You are here » home advanced search Compsophis laphystius

Compsophis laphystius (CADLE, 1996)

IUCN Red List - Compsophis laphystius - Least Concern, LC

Can you confirm these amateur observations of Compsophis laphystius?

Add your own observation of
Compsophis laphystius »

We have no photos, try to find some by Google images search: Google images

Higher TaxaPseudoxyrhophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymGeodipsas laphystia CADLE 1996
Compsophis (Geodipsas) laphystius — GLAW et al. 2007
Compsophis laphystius — WALLACH et al. 2014: 175 
DistributionMadagascar (Fianarantsoa)

Type locality: “Talatakely, Ranomafana National Park, 950–1,000 m, Fivondronana Ifanadiana, Fianarantsoa Prov., Madagascar [21°16’S, 47°25’E].”  
TypesHolotype: MCZ 181390; Paratypes: (n=21) from the same locality as the holotype (elevations vary slightly, 950-1100 m): MCZ 180339 (JEC 11814), adult female, 6 December 1992; MCZ 180340-41 (JEC 12341-2), adult females, 1 January 1993; MCZ 180342 (JEC 12365), adult male, 2 January 1993; MCZ 181148 (JEC 9640), subadult male, 25 October 1990; MCZ 181150-51 (JEC 10110-11), adult females, and MCZ 181152 (JEC 10112), (adult ?) male, 4 December 1990; MCZ 181164 (JEC 11815), adult female (skin + complete skeleton), 6 December 1992; MCZ 181165 (JEC 12366), adult female (skin + complete skeleton), 2 January 1993; MCZ 181391-92 (JEC 13064-65), adult males, 30-31 December 1995; MCZ 181393-94 (JEC 13077-78), adult female and male, 30-31 December 1995; MCZ 181387-89 (JEC 13166-68), adult males, 2 January 1996. MCZ 180343 (JEC 12279), adult female, 30 December 1992: Vatoharanana, Ranomafana National Park, 1,000 m, Fivondronana Ifanadiana, Fianarantsoa Province, Madagascar [21°17'20"S, 47°25'45"E]. MCZ 181158-59 (JEC 12629-30), adult females, 12 January 1993: Approximately 7 km SW (airline) Midongy du Sud [Midongy Atsimo], near Rianambo ("high waterfall") on Lalampo River,- 670 m, Fivondronana Midongy du Sud, Fianarantsoa Province, Madagascar [23°39'S, 46°57'E]. MCZ 181395 (JEC 13267), subadult female, 8—11 January 1996: Vevembe Forest, 22 km W (by road to Maropaika) Vondrozo, 550 m, Fivondronana Vondrozo, Fianarantsoa Province, Madagascar [22°47'S, 47°12'E]. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: “A species of Geodipsas characterized by a relatively high number of ventrals (170—187) and subcaudals (64—81); posterior dorsal scale reduction usually by loss of row 4 or fusion of 4 + 5; compressed body and relatively long tail (21-26% of total length); and, in hfe, a yellow, gray, or brown ground color, upon which is superimposed a series of fine dark longitudinal lines usually evident on the suture line between dorsal scale rows 4—5 anteriorly (3-4 posteriorly), the suture line between rows 7—8, on the border between the ventrals and dorsal row 1, and on the vertebral row. Geodipsas laphystia is distinguished from G. boulengeri and G. zeny, new species, by having more ventrals (170—187) and subcaudals (64-81) (<150 and <50, respectively, in both boulengeri and zeny) and by different color patterns. Geodipsas laphystia also reaches a larger size (>600 mm total length) than either zeny (maximum known length <300 mm), or boulengeri (maximum known length <400 mm). Geodipsas laphystia has been confused with G. infralineata, but the two species differ most obviously in details of color patterns and more subtly in scale and hemipenial characters, body proportions, and size. In both species, the dorsal ground color is a shade of yellow to brown (or gray in infralineata), upon which is a series of fine dark lines. In laphystia, the lines form a series of dark longitudinal lines and flecks distributed as already described. In infralineata, the lines form a lateral series of diagonals or fine chevrons pointed anteriorly (with the vertex on the vertebral scale row); successive lines or chevrons are usually separated by 2 scale rows. In laphystia, the dorsal ground color does not encroach significantly onto the lateral edges of the ventrals, and the ventrals and subcaudals are immaculate except for a series of small midventral spots or a continuous midventral line that may be present on the posterior % of the body and on the subcaudals. In infralineata, the dorsal ground color may encroach substantially onto the ventrals, which may also be irregularly blotched or flecked with dark pigment in addition to having a midventral line or series of spots.
Some specimens referred to Geodipsas infralineata apparently are nearly unicolor dorsally and lack distinct darker markings (whether longitudinal lines or diagonals). Although I did not observe this color form at any of the localities I worked, photographs of such specimens have appeared in Glaw and Vences (1994:pl. 336, from Andasibe) and Henkel and Schmidt (1995: 274, locality unknown). Other characters distinguishing Geodipsas laphystia and G. infralineata include (1) differences in the mode of dorsal scale reductions (usually loss of row 4 or fusion of 4 + 5 in laphystia, fusion of 3 + 4 in infralineata); (2) details of hemipenial morphology (e.g., pair of large basal spines on the asulcate side in laphystia, parallel rows of greatly enlarged spines in infralineata; (3) a somewhat longer tail and more subcaudals, on average, in laphystia; and (4) a greater body size in infralineata (to >900 mm total length) compared to laphystia (maximum known length 622 mm).” (Cadle 1996) 
CommentHabitat: fully arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
EtymologyLaphystia is a Greek adjective meaning "gluttonous." It refers to the seemingly voracious appetite these little snakes have for egg clutches of frogs of the genus Mantidactylus. 
  • Andreone F., Randrianirina J., Jenkins P.D. & Aprea G. 2000. Species diversity of Amphibia, Reptilia and Lipotyphla (Mammalia) at Ambolokopatrika, a rainforest between the Anjanaharibe-Sud and Marojejy massifs, NE Madagascar. Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 1587–1622 - get paper here
  • Cadle, J. E. 1996. Systematics of snakes of the genus Geodipsas (Colubridae) from Madagascar, with descriptions of new species and observations on natural history. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 155 (2): 33-87. - get paper here
  • Glaw, F.; Nagy, Z.T. & Vences, M. 2007. Phylogenetic relationships and classification of the Malagasy pseudoxyrhophiine snake genera Geodipsas and Compsophis based on morphological and molecular data. Zootaxa 1517: 53-62 - get paper here
  • Harrington, Sean M; Jordyn M de Haan, Lindsey Shapiro, Sara Ruane 2018. Habits and characteristics of arboreal snakes worldwide: arboreality constrains body size but does not affect lineage diversification. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 125 (1): 61–71 - get paper here
  • Mercurio, V. & Andreone, F. 2005. Description of a new Geodipsas snake from northern Madagascar (Squamata: Colubridae). Zootaxa 1093: 61-68 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Zimmermann, H. 2001. Das erste “deutsche” Naturschutzgebiet in Madagaskar, der “Drachenbaum-Regenwald Maromiza bei Andasibe und seine Herpetofauna. Herpetofauna 23 (134): 28-34 - get paper here
External links  
Is it interesting? Share with others:

Please submit feedback about this entry to the curator