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Boiga thackerayi GIRI, DEEPAK, CAPTAIN, PAWAR & TILLACK, 2019

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Thackeray’s Cat Snake 
SynonymBoiga thackerayi GIRI, DEEPAK, CAPTAIN, PAWAR & TILLACK 2019
Boiga thackerayi — GANESH et al. 2020 
DistributionIndia (Maharashtra)

Type locality: near Humbarli, Koyna, Satara district, Maharashtra, India  
TypesHolotype: BNHS 2371 (Fig. 1), adult male, collected by Tejas Thackeray and Swapnil Pawar on July 27, 2016. Paratypes: BNHS 2372 (given erroneously as 2371) and BNHS 2373, both females, collected from near Humbarli, Koyna, Satara district, Maharashtra, India, by Tejas Thackeray and Swapnil Pawar on September 15, 2017.
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A medium sized Boiga with SVL up to 870 mm. Body laterally compressed with weakly enlarged vertebral scales; dorsal scales smooth without apical pits, in 19/19–17/15 rows; ventrals 211–221; subcaudals 93–101, paired; anal single; supralabials 8, 3rd–5th touching orbit; infralabials 9–11; rostral broader than high; preocular single, barely reaching upper surface of the head, not touching frontal; postoculars 2; temporals 2 in first row, 3–5 in second row; vertebral scale row differs from paravertebral rows in being slightly broader and with rounded posterior margins; dorsum brown with indistinct dark bands on the body and tail; dorsal aspect of head deeply pigmented with dark blotches, postocular stripe extending to the angle of the jaw; ventral aspect of body speckled throughout, contiguous series of irregularly arranged distinct, dark spots with pale borders on lateral aspect; in life the anterior portion of the venter is yellowish and the remaining posterior part pale pinkish in colour.

Differences between Boiga thackerayi sp. nov. and South Asian congeners
The number of dorsal scale rows (19:19–17:15) of Boiga thackerayi sp. nov. can be easily used to distinguish it from 11 of its congeners, namely B. andamanensis, B. cyanea, B. dightoni, B. forsteni, B. gokool, B. multifasciata, B. nuchalis, B. ochracea stoliczkae, B. siamensis, B. trigonata, B. wallachi, all of which have 21 or more scale rows at midbody. Though Boiga thackerayi sp. nov. shares dorsal scale rows (19:19–17:15) with B. barnesii, B. beddomei, B. ceylonensis, B. flaviviridis, B. multomaculata, B. ochracea, and B. quincunciata, all of which can have 19 scale rows at midbody, it differs in the combination of number of ventral and subcaudal scales, colour pattern, and distribution (see Table 4 in Giri et al. 2019).

Updated description: A medium-sized snake with a snout-vent length: 261–832 mm, tail length: 76–275 mm, relative tail size 21.8–23.5%; with slender habitus, thin neck, wide head; long tail; anterior dorsal scale rows 17–20 (17, 18 and 20 anterior dorsal scale rows in one, two and one specimens respectively out of 31 specimens examined); midbody scale rows 19; posterior scale rows 13–15 (13 in 2 out of 20 cases, 14 in 1 out of 31 cases); ros- tral visible from above; preocular 1, subequal to loreal; postoculars 2; loreal 1; supralabials 8/9, with 3rd–5th / 4th–6th ones touching eye; infralabials 11/12, with 1–5 touching genials; temporals 10–14; preventral 1; ventrals 207–239, angulate laterally; anal scale 1; subcaudals 86–109 pairs. Dorsal color brownish-grey, patterned with blackish brown cross bars, 55–76 on body, 19–29 on tail; cross bars covering 2–4 scales in size, extending either sides up to 3–4 scale rows across; interspaces often with sparse dark dots; distinct circular markings on top of head, on frontal, parietals, temporal and occipital parts; a distinct postocular stripe up to the jaw angle; labials, chin and venter ashy brown, finely spotted with darker hue; venter bordered along both sides by a series of large adjacent white and black blotches, alternating at an interval of every 3–4 ventrals (Ganesh et al. 2021).  
CommentDistribution: See map in Ganesh et al. 2021: Fig. 2. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is an eponym honouring Mr Tejas Thackeray for his work on freshwater crabs of the Western Ghats. He also collected the type series of this new species and is a strong supporter of many ongoing research projects on herpetofauna in India. 
  • GANESH, S., MALLIK, A. K., ACHYUTHAN, N., SHANKER, K., & VOGEL, G. 2021. A new species of Boiga (Serpentes: Colubridae) from the Southern Western Ghats of India with a molecular phylogeny and expanded characterisation of related species. Zootaxa 4981(3): 449-468 - get paper here
  • GANESH, S.R.; N.S. ACHYUTHAN, S.R. CHANDRAMOULI & GERNOT VOGEL, 2020. Taxonomic revision of the Boiga ceylonensis group (Serpentes: Colubridae): re-examination of type specimens, redefinition of nominate taxa and an updated key. Zootaxa 4779 (3): 301–332 - get paper here
  • Giri, Varad B.; V. Deepak, Ashok Captain, Swapnil Pawar, Frank Tillack 2019. A New Species of Boiga Fitzinger, 1826 (Serpentes: Colubridae) from The Northern Western Ghats of India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 116 - get paper here
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