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Elaphe dione (PALLAS, 1773)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Steppes Ratsnakes
G: Dionenatter, Steppennatter
Russian: Узорчатый полоз
Chinese: 白条锦蛇 
SynonymColuber Dione PALLAS 1773: 717
Coluber diana LATREILLE 1802: 159 (emendation)
Chironius dione — FITZINGER 1826: 60
Coluber eremita EICHWALD 1831: 174 (fide STEJNEGER 1907)
Coluber maeoticus RATHKE 1837: 433 (fide STEJNEGER 1907)
Coluber trabalis SCHLEGEL 1837: 167 (fide DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854)
Coelopeltis dione — EICHWALD 1841: 120 (fide BOULENGER 1894)
Zamenis trabalis — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 689
Elaphis dione — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 248
Elaphis dione — GÜNTHER 1864: 240
Coluber dione — BOULENGER 1894: 44
Zamenis trabalis — MÜLLER 1895: 203
Coluber dione — STONE 1899: 184
Elaphe dione — STEJNEGER 1907: 315
Zamenis pellioti MOCQUARD 1910
Coluber dione — BOULENGER 1913
Elaphe czerskii NIKOLSKY 1914
Elaphe dione niger GOLUBEVA 1923
Elaphe czerskii — EMELIANOV 1928
Elaphe dione tenebrosa SOBOLEVSKY 1929
Elaphe dione — ENGELMANN et al 1993
Elaphe dione — SCHULZ 1996
Elaphe dione — UTIGER et al. 2002
Elaphe dione czerskii — VEDMEDERYA et al. 2009
Elaphe dione — WALLACH et al. 2014: 262 
DistributionE Ukraine, S/SE Russia, Far East (Russia), Republic of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, N Iran, Kirghizia, Korea, Mongolia, Russia, N China (southward to Sichuan in the west and Jiangsu in the east; Kiangsu, Shantung, Shansi, Shensi, Gansu; north to Chang Jiang river).

Type locality: mountains near Irtin (= Irtysh River); Gratscheffskoi outpost (fide HELFENBERGER 2001); Gratscheffskoi, Kasachstan (Mertens & Mueller, 1928);
South Siberia, Russia (fide KHALIKOV, pers. comm.); restricted to Gratscheffskoi outpost, near Semijarsk, upper Irtysh area, Semipalatinsk district, Kazakhstan by MERTENS & MÜLLER 1928.  
Reproductionovoviviparous (Gruber 2009) 
TypesType: unlocated (fide V. Wallach, pers. comm.) 
CommentSynonymy partly after KHALIKOV & ANANJEVA (pers. comm.) and STEJNEGER 1907. See also discussion on Coluber trabalis in PETERS 1861: 481.

Distribution: not in Armenia fide Jeff Ettling (pers. comm., 2 April 2015). For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013.

Morphology: this is a vriable species with uniform black and red morphs, as well as striped and blotched variants.

Similar species: Can be confused with Elaphe bimaculata (and is often sold as such in the pet trade).

Conservation: Critically endangered, at least in the Ukraine (KOTENKO 2006).

Activity pattern. Diurnal and night.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
EtymologyNamed after “Dione” the mother of Aphrodite in Greek mythology. 
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