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Dasypeltis scabra (LINNAEUS, 1758)

IUCN Red List - Dasypeltis scabra - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Common Egg Eater, Rhombic Egg Eater
G: Gewöhnliche afrikanische Eierschlange 
SynonymColuber scaber LINNAEUS 1758: 223
Dasypeltis scabra — WAGLER 1830: 178
Anodon typus SMITH 1828: 2
Tropidonotus scaber — SCHLEGEL 1837: 328
Rachiodon scaber — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 491
Dasypeltis scabra — GÜNTHER 1858
Dasypeltis scaber var. breviceps PETERS 1864: 645
Dasypeltis scaber var. capensis PETERS 1864: 644
Dasypeltis scaber var. mossambicus PETERS 1864: 644
Rachiodon scaber — BOCAGE 1866: 49
Dasypeltis lineolata PETERS 1878: 206
Dasypeltis lineolata — FISCHER 1884: 48
Dasypeltis scabra var. B — BOULENGER 1894: 356
Dasypeltis scabra — AUERBACH 1987: 191
Dasypeltis scabra — BOYCOTT 1992
Dasypeltis scabra — TRAPE & ROUX-ESTÈVE 1995: 42
Dasypeltis scabra — SCHLEICH, KÄSTLE & KABISCH 1996: 490
Dasypeltis scabra — TRAPE & MANÉ 2004: 23
Dasypeltis scabra — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 490
Dasypeltis cf. scabra — BÖHME et al. 2011: 58
Dasypeltis scabra — WALLACH et al. 2014: 211
Dasypeltis scabra — BATES & BROADLEY 2018: 15
Dasypeltis scabra — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 516
Dasypeltis cf. scabra — SANTOS et al. 2021 
DistributionMauritania, Western Sahara, Sudan (Jumhūriyyat), Republic of South Sudan (RSS), Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, N Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Congo (Brazzaville), Angola, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Republic of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland

Type locality: “Indiis” (fide LINNAEUS 1758; in error) = Cape Colony, South Africa.  
TypesHolotype: lost, was NRM (= NHR, formerly MAFR), female (Mus. Drottn), lost fide Andersson (1899: 5) and Gans (1959: 87).
Holotype: ZMB 9224 [Dasypeltis lineolata PETERS 1878]
Holotype: ZMB 3886 [Dasypeltis scaber var. breviceps PETERS 1864]
Syntypes: ZMB, unlocated [Dasypeltis scaber var. capensis PETERS 1864]
Syntypes: ZMB 1856-8 [Dasypeltis scaber var. mossambicus PETERS 1864]
Holotype: SMF 46642 [loveridgei] 
CommentHabitat: Found in savannah and grassland from sea level to over 1500 m. Not present in deserts and dense rain forests. Semi-arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018).

Synonymy: BROADLEY & POYNTON 1998 first note the synonymization of D. palmarum with D. scabra (p. xiii) and then they list the species as valid (p. xxxii). Dasypeltis abyssina (DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854) has been removed from the synonymy of D. scabra. Wallach et al. 2015 list Dasypeltis scabra loveridgei as a synonym of D. scabra.

Broadley (1983, 1990) relegated Dasypeltis scabra loveridgei Mertens, 1954 from Namibia to the synonymy of D. scabra, but the former has a distinctive dorsal colour pattern (hourglass-shaped dorsal saddles alternating with more-or-less square to rectangular lateral bars; ‘6N’ of Gans 1959) and almost always only six supralabials (2nd and 3rd in contact with the orbit) on either side of the head (Mertens 1954; Bates et al. 2009; Bates & Broadley 2018). Apart from Mertens’ (1954) types, Gans (1959) provided data for additional Namibian ‘6N’ specimens, all but a few having the 6[2,3] supralabial formula. This combination of characters is unique to D. s. loveridgei which Bates & Broadley 2018 therefore consider a good evolutionary species and formally elevate to species status as Dasypeltis loveridgei Mertens, 1954 comb. nov. However, Bates & Broadley 2018 do not provide localities on their map, hence the range of this species is somewhat unclear.

Sympatry. D. medici at Belet Amin (Somalia), Kilifi (Kenya), and Amani, Dodoma, Morogoro and Zanzibar (Tanzania); sympatric with D. confusa at Lake Kivu (Rwanda); sympatric with D. atra at Aware Melca and Lake Abiata (Ethiopia), Mulema (Uganda), Lake Naivasha and Mount Kulal (Kenya), Astrida (Rwanda) and Minziro Forest Reserve (Tanzania); sympatric with both D. medici and D. atra at Mt Kilimanjaro (Bates & Broadley 2018). Not in Morocco (Martínez et al. 2019, and pers. comm. 18 Jan 2021).

Distribution: not listed for Togo by Segniagbeto et al. 2012. Not in Gabon according to PAUWELS & VANDE WEGHE 2008 (”Gabonese” specimens usually represent D. confusa). Not reported from Benin according to ULLENBRUCH et al. 2010. Reports from Benin seem to be D. confusa (L. Chirio, pers. comm. 23 Aug 2013 and Hughes 2013). Not in Sierra Leone fide TRAPE & BALDÉ 2014: 320. See map in GÖTHEL 2015: 19. The Egyptian populations have been described as D. bazi Saleh & Sarhan 2016, hence D. scabra has been eliminated from Egypt. Not in Mali fide Trape & Mané 2017. Not in Equatorial Guinea fide SÁNCHEZ-VIALAS et al. 2022. Specimens from Saudi Arabia, Yemen are now D. arabica. For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013, Bates & Broadley 2018: 12.

Mimicry: STERNFELD (1910) reports mimicry of Echis carinatus by Dasypeltis scabra.

Type species: Coluber scaber LINNAEUS 1758 is the type species of the genus Dasypeltis WAGLER 1830. 
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