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Dispholidus typus (SMITH, 1828)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesDispholidus typus typus (SMITH 1829)
Dispholidus typus kivuensis LAURENT 1955 
Common NamesE: Boomslang
G: Grüne Boomslang 
SynonymBucephalus typus SMITH 1828: 2
Bucephalus Bellii SMITH 1828: 2
Bucephalus gutturalis SMITH 1828: 2
Bucephalus Jardineii SMITH 1828: 2
Bucephalus viridis SMITH 1828: 2 (fide BRANCH 1981: 127)
Dendrophis colubrina SCHLEGEL 1837
Bucephalus capensis SMITH 1841: 20
Dendrophis pseudo-dipsas BIANCONI 1850: 210
Bucephalus Typus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 877
Bucephalus typus — BLANFORD 1870
Bucephalus typus — FISCHER 1884: 11
Bucephalus capensis — GÜNTHER 1888: 334
Bucephalus typus — BOETTGER 1893: 130
Dispholidus typus viridis — BOULENGER 1905: 214
Dispholidus typus viridis — LAURENT 1956: 220
Dispholidus typus — FITZSIMONS & BRAIN 1958
Dispholidus typus occidentalis PERRET 1961 (nom. nud. fide WALLACH et al. 2014).
Dispholidus typus viridis — WITTE 1975
Dispholidus typus — HARDING & WELCH 1980
Dispholidus typus — RÖDEL & MAHSBERG 2000
Dispholidus typus — SCHMIDT 1923: 114
Dispholidus typus typus — AUERBACH 1987: 186
Dispholidus typus typus — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 32
Dispholidus typus — BROADLEY 1998
Dispholidus tipus — ARESTE & CEBRIAN 2003 (in error)
Disphlidus [sic] typus — BRANCH & BAUER 2005
Dispholidus typus — CHIRIO & INEICH 2006
Dispholidus viridis — EIMERMACHER 2012: 62
Dispholidus typus viridis — BROADLEY & BLAYLOCK 2013
Dispholidus typus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 239
Dispholidus typus — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 503
Dispholidus typus viridis — BRANCH 2018
Dispholidus typus viridis — PIETERSEN 2017
Dispholidus typus — MULDER 2019
Dispholidus viridis — PIETERSEN et al. 2021

Dispholidus typus kivuensis LAURENT 1955: 127
Dispholidus typus kivuensis — PITMAN 1974
Dispholidus kivuensis — EIMERMACHER 2012: 61
Dispholidus kivuensis — PIETERSEN et al. 2021 
DistributionNamibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Republic of South Africa (Eastern Cape etc.), Swaziland, Mozambique, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire; except in the center), Congo (Brazzaville), Angola, Zambia, from Senegal to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mali, Ivory Coast (RÖDEL et al. 1999), Gambia, Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, Guinea (Conakry), Liberia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Republic of South Sudan (RSS),Sudan (Jumhūriyyat), Chad

kivuensis: Zambia (Abercorn), Rwanda, Kenya (Eldoret, Subukia), Uganda. Type locality: “Uvira, Lake Tanganyika, Kivu District, Ruanda-Urundi”

viridis: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Republic of South Africa, Angola?

Type locality: “Old Latakoo, South Africa”  
Reproductionegg-laying (oviparous). 
TypesHolotype: NMSZ (formerly RSM) (FitzSimons 1937: 263)
Holotype: RMCA (= MRAC) 17505 (cited as RGMC), Paratypes in ZFMK, IRSNB, CM and RMNH [kivuensis]
Holotype: RMCA (= MRAC) 17395, Paratypes in ZFMK, IRSNB, CM, and RMNH but not in FMNH (fide A. Resetar, pers. comm., 4 Feb 2019); other types in MD (Museu Dundo) [punctatus] 

The famous American herpetologist Karl P. Schmidt (1890-19) died from the bite of a juvenile D. typus. While dying he took notes of the progression of the symptoms (RESETAR & VORIS 1997).

Synonymy: The status of D. t. viridis remains unclear: Branch 2018 listed it as a valid subspecies in his Angola list, citing Eimermacher 2012, an unpublished thesis, as source for this, but it’s still not formally published in 2019 and nobody seems to have followed up on it (Broadley & Blaylock 2013 also refer to the same thesis when they used viridis). By contrast, Marques et al. 2018 didn't even mention viridis in their Angola monograph and Bates et al. 2014 are undecided. Branch 2018 mentions some color variation, so color itself my not be a good diagnostic character.

Subspecies: Dispholidus typus punctatus LAURENT 1955 is now considered a valid species by some recent authors.

Behavior: very active and largely arboreal; dangerous, but fortunately reluctant to bite.

Diet: feeds mainly on chamaeleons and other tree lizards, nestling birds and eggs;

Distribution: Has been erronously reported from Gabon (fide PAUWELS & BRANCH 2003). Eimermacher 2012 suggests that typical Dispholidus typus is largely restricted to the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces and is replaced by Dispholidus typus viridis from the Northern Cape Province northwards. For a map see Eimermacher 2012: 59 (Fig. 2.8).
Type species: Bucephalus typus SMITH 1828: 2 is the type species of the genus Dispholidus DUVERNOY 1832.

Habitat: fully arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
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