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Dendrelaphis bifrenalis (BOULENGER, 1890)

IUCN Red List - Dendrelaphis bifrenalis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Ahaetuliinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Boulenger's Bronzeback 
SynonymDendrophis bifrenalis BOULENGER 1890: 338
Dendrophis bifrenalis — BOULENGER 1894: 80
Dendrophis bifrenalis — WALL 1921: 215
Dendrophis boiga bifrenalis — MEISE & HENNIG 1932
Ahaetulla bifrenalis — SMITH 1943: 246
Ahaetulla bifrenalis — TAYLOR 1950: 554
Dendrelaphis bifrenalis — DAS 1996: 55
Dendrelaphis bifrenalis — KARUNARATHNA & AMARASINGHE 2011
Dendrelaphis bifrenalis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 215
Dendrelaphis bifrenalis — AENGALS et al. 2022 
DistributionSri Lanka, India (Tamil Nadu)

Type locality: Ceylon  
TypesLectotype: BMNH 1946.1.6.4, designated by Danushka et al. 2020; paralectotypes: BMNH, Ceylon; BM 1905.3.25.98, Pundaluoya, 4000 feet, Ceylon; USNM 267765, Labugama, Sri Lanka. A fourth specimen marked as type in the collection of the British Museum (BM, should not be regarded as part of the type series. 
DiagnosisDendrelaphis bifrenalis is the smallest among the Sri Lankan Dendrelaphis, and can be easily distinguished from its congeners by the presence of a red tongue and two loreal scales (De Silva 1980). However, this description matches both D. bifrenalis and a new species, D. wickrorum (see the latter for a more detailed diagnosis).

Colouration. Over 160 years in preservative (Fig. 3), dorsally dark bluish black; a white colour longitudinal ventro-lateral line starts from anterior body up to the level of vent; dorsal head blue; black transverse ventro-lateral cross bars on the anterior part of the body; a black band (two-scale wide) from posterior nasal across the eye beyond the neck, afterwards connect with black transverse ventro-lateral cross bars (bands); ventral side creamy yellow.
In life (based on Figures 5, 8, 9B and observations), dorsally dark bluish green; a cream colour longitudinal ventro-lateral line starts from anterior body up to the level of vent; dorsal head greenish blue; black transverse ventro-lateral cross bars on the anterior part of the body, in between cross bars luminous blue, brown and gray colour; a black band from posterior nasal across the eye beyond the neck, afterwards connect with black transverse ventrolateral cross bars; vertebral column usually orange or light brown, distinct on the anterior part of the body; ventral side light greenish yellow, throat white. 
CommentDendrelaphis bifrenalis is the smallest of the five Dendrelaphis in Sri Lanka and can be easily distinguished from its congeners by the presence of a red tongue, and two loreal scales (de Silva 1980).

Distribution: Has been (erroneously ?) reported from India by WALL 1921: 158. Not in India fide I. Das (pers. comm., 25 July 2012), but recently confirmed from India by Aengals et al. 2022. See maps in Danushka et al. 2020: 96 (Fig. 10) and Aengals et al. 2022: 29 (Fig. 3).

Similar species: D. giri. The paratype of D. girii from Sirumalai and a voucher specimen previously identified as D. girii from Meghamalai (both from Tamil Nadu, India) are actually D. bifrenalis (Aengals et al. 2022).

Behavior: diurnal

Habitat: fully arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018) 
  • Aengals, R.; S.R. Ganesh, P.G.S. Sethy, J. Samson Kirubakaran, M. Ahamed Jerith, M. Satheeshkumar, A. Thanigaivel & Gernot Vogel 2022. FIRST CONFIRMED DISTRIBUTION RECORDS OF Dendrelaphis bifrenalis (BOULENGER, 1890) (REPTILIA: COLUBRIDAE) IN INDIA, WITH A REVISED KEY TO THE SOUTHERN INDIAN FORMS. Taprobanica 11 (1): 25-32
  • Blackburn, D.G. 1993. STANDARDIZED CRITERIA FOR THE RECOGNITION OF REPRODUCTIVE MODES IN SQUAMATE REPTILES. Herpetologica 49 (1): 118-132 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, George A. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis, London, xviii, 541 pp. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, George A. 1894. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume II., Containing the Conclusion of the Colubridæ Aglyphæ. British Mus. (Nat. Hist.), London, xi, 382 pp. - get paper here
  • Danushka, A.D. et al. 2020. A new species of Dendrelaphis Boulenger, 1890 (Reptilia: Colubridae) from the wet zone of Sri Lanka with a redescription of Dendrelaphis bifrenalis (Boulenger, 1890). TAPROBANICA 9 (1): 83-102 - get paper here
  • Ganesh S.R., Bubesh Guptha 2021. Herpetological diversity in the Central Eastern Ghats, Peninsular India. Journal of Animal Diversity, 3(3): 18-44 - 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
  • Jayaneththi, Hareschandra Bandula 2015. Vertebrate fauna of Morankanda-Mukalana secondary forest patch in Sri Lanka: A checklist reported from 2004-2008 survey. RUHUNA JOURNAL OF SCIENCE 6: 21- 41 - get paper here
  • Karunarathna, Suranjan D. M. S. and A. A. Thasun Amarasinghe 2011. A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF THE REPTILE FAUNA IN NILGALA FOREST AND ITS VICINITY, MONARAGALA DISTRICT, SRI LANKA. Taprobanica 3 (2): 69-76 - get paper here
  • Meise,Wilhelm & HENNIG,Willi 1932. Die Schlangengattung Dendrophis. Zool. Anz. 99 (11/12): 273-297
  • Pyron, R. Alexander; H.K. Dushantha Kandambi, Catriona R. Hendry, Vishan Pushpamal, Frank T. Burbrink, Ruchira Somaweera 2013. Genus-level phylogeny of snakes reveals the origins of species richness in Sri Lanka. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66 (3): 969-978 - get paper here
  • Sharma, R. C. 2004. Handbook Indian Snakes. AKHIL BOOKS, New Delhi, 292 pp.
  • Smith, M.A. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-Region. Reptilia and Amphibia. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor and Francis, London. 583 pp.
  • SUDASINGHE, H. B. S. A. T. 2010. Beobachtung einer Dendrelaphis bifrenalis (Reptilia: Colubridae) beim Fressen eines Polypedates cruciger (Amphibia: Rhacophoridae) in Sri Lanka. Sauria 32 (4): 75-78 - get paper here
  • Taylor, Edward H. 1950. The snakes of Ceylon. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 33 (14): 519-603 - get paper here
  • Vogel, Gernot & Johan van Rooijen 2011. A NEW SPECIES OF Dendrelaphis (SERPENTES: COLUBRIDAE) FROM THE WESTERN GHATS - INDIA. Taprobanica 3 (2): 77-85. - get paper here
  • Wall, FRANK 1921. Ophidia Taprobanica or the Snakes of Ceylon. Colombo Mus. (H. R. Cottle, govt. printer), Colombo. xxii, 581 pages - get paper here
  • Wall,F. 1913. Notes on some interesting snakes recently presented to the Society. J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc. 22: 639 - get paper here
  • Wall. F. 1921. Remarks on the lndian species of Dendrophis and Dendrelaphis. Records of the Indian Museum 22: 151 - 162 - 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.
  • WICKRAMASINGHE, L.J. MENDIS 2016. A new canopy-dwelling species of Dendrelaphis (Serpentes: Colubridae) from Sinharaja, World Heritage Site, Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 4162 (3): 504–518 - get paper here
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