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Leptodeira ashmeadii (HALLOWELL, 1845)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Banded Cat-eyed Snake
G: Bananennatter 
SynonymColuber ashmeadii HALLOWELL 1845: 244
Leptodeira albofusca – BOULENGER 1896: 95 (part)
Tarbophis dipsadomorphoides – AHL 1925: 175
Leptodeira rhombifera – DUNN 1944: 207
Leptodeira rhombifera kugleri SHREVE 1949: 531
Leptodeira annulata ashmeadi — DUELLMAN 1958: 43
Telescopus dipsadomorphoides — PERRET 1961
Leptodeira annulata ashmeadi — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 153
Leptodeira annulata ashmeadi — MERTENS 1972
Leptodeira annulata ashmeadii — GORZULA & SEÑARIS 1999
Leptodeira annulata ashmeadii — BOOS 2001
Leptodeira annulata — UGUETO & RIVAS 2010
Leptodeira ashmeadii — BARRIO-AMORÓS 2019
Leptodeira ashmeadii — COSTA et al. 2022 
DistributionNE Colombia, N Venezuela (incl. Cojedes), Tobago, Trinidad, Isla Margarita; Brazil (Roraima), elevation 0-1000 m

Type locality: restricted to “vicinity of Caracas, Distrito Federal, Venezuela (by DUELLMAN 1958).  
Reproductionoviparous. 
TypesLectotype: ANSP 10093 (ashmeadi)
Holotype: MCZ 49044 [kugleri]
Holotype: ZMB 28776, from Buea, Cameroon, in error [Tarbophis dipsadomorphoides] 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS: Leptodeira ashmeadii can be distinguished from their congeners by the following com- bination of characters: (1) dorsal scales 17–21/17–23/13–17; (2) presubocular present or absent; (3) supral- abials 7–9/7–9; (4) infralabials 9–11/9–11; (5) ventral counts in males 172–197 and 167–191 in females; (6) subcaudal counts in male 70–97 and 67–92 in females; (7) two dark brown parallel stripes in the parietal region which run toward the occipitals; (8) two occipital stripes extend to the body and fuse with the first dorsal blotch; (9) number of dark brown dorsal blotches in males 19–58 and 27–51 in females; (10) number of dorsal blotches in tail in male 13–31 and 12–33 in females; (11) SVL 331–544 mm in males and 331–801 mm in females; and (12) tail long 26.06% of TTL in males and 23.50% of TTL in females.
Leptodeira ashmeadii differs from L. annulata, L. approximans, and L. ornata by the presence of larger dark spots in the dorsal view of the head and dark stripes in the occipital region (vs. dorsal head with small or absent dark spots and the occipital region with or without medial thin line); from L. bakeri and L. larcorum by the presence of a dark horseshoe-shaped spot in the occipital region (vs. dark bar-shaped, dark butterfly-shaped spot, medial wide line in L. bakeri and L. larcorum, respectively); from L. pulchriceps and L. tarairiu sp. nov. by having a lower average of ventral scales in males 182 (172–197) and in females 181 (167–191) (vs. a higher average of ventral counts in male 195 (191–198) and females 193 (188–200) in L. pulchriceps; and male 198 (184–208) and females 198 (182–212) in L. tarairiu sp. nov.). (Costa et al. 2022: Supplement S2).

REDESCRIPTION OF LECTOTYPE (ANSP 10093): Dorsal body cream, with 40 oval-shaped dark brown blotches (Fig. 7A). Ventral region of the body cream (Fig. 7B). Loreal longer than wide. Prefrontals twice as long as internals. Frontal longer than wide. Parietals longer than wide. Preocular 1/1, in contact with frontals on the right side. Presubocular present. Postoculars 2/2. Supralabial scales 8/8, with 4–5/4–5 contacting eye. Temporals 1+2+3/1+2+3. Infralabial scales 10/10, with 1–5/1–5 contacting anterior chinshields and 5–6/5–6 contacting posterior chinshields. Anterior chinshields with the same length as posteriors. Smooth dorsal scales with two apical pits. Dorsal counts 19/17/15. There are 189 ventral scales, a divided anal plate and 96 paired subcaudal scales. SVL 383 mm, TL 136 mm (26.20% of TTL), head length 15.6 mm (3.01% of TTL). Dorsum of head faded and cream (Fig. 7C); occipital region with two dark brown stripes, starting in the posterior parietals region and extending parallel to the beginning of the body, joining the first dorsal blotch (Fig. 7D). Post-ocular stripe dark brown begins in the post-ocular and extends to the region of the last infralabial region (Fig. 7D). Head in ventral region cream, without spots (Fig. 7E). The space between dark blotches is less than the length of the blotch (Fig. 7F). Lateral region of the body highlighted intercalary and lateral spots (Fig. 7G). Tail with 28 blotches with the same body pattern (Fig. 7A). (Costa et al. 2022: Supplement S2).

VARIATION: Preocular counts 1 (N= 166) or 2 (N= 11) / 1 (N= 165) or 2 (N= 12). Postoculars counts 1(N=1),2(N=172)or3(N=5)/1(N=2),2(N=171),or3(N=4). Supralabialcounts7(N=5),8(N= 169) or 9 (N= 5) / 7 (N= 7), 8 (N= 169) or 9 (N= 4). Number of supralabial scales contacting eye 3–4 (N= 5), 3–5 (N= 40), 4–5 (N= 127), 5–6 (N= 2) or 6 (N= 1) / 3–4 (N= 5), 3–5 (N= 39), 4–5 (N= 129) , 4–6 (N= 1) or 5–6 (N= 3). Infralabial counts 8 (N= 1), 9 (N= 9), 10 (N= 157) or 11 (N= 9) / 9 (N=8), 10 (N=158) or 11 (N= 13). Number of infralabials contacting anterior chinshields 1–4 (N= 6), 1–5 (N= 164) or 1–6 (N= 9) / 1–4 (N= 4), 1–5 (N= 163) or 1–6 (N= 11). Dorsal counts at the first third of the body in males 17 (N= 3), 19 (N= 79) or 21 (N= 4) and females 17 (N= 4), 19 (N= 70) or 21 (N= 22); dorsal counts in the middle of the body in males 17 (N= 1), 19 (N= 34) or 21 (N= 51) and females 19 (N= 23), 21 (N= 71) or 23 (N= 5); and dorsal counts at the last third of the body in males 15 (N= 83) or 17 (N=4) and females 13 (N= 1), 15 (N= 61) or 17 (N=35). Ventral counts in males 172–197 (mean= 183; SD= 5; N= 87) and females 167–191 (mean= 181; SD= 5; N= 104). Subcaudals counts in males 70–97 (mean=86; SD= 6; N= 63) and females 67–92 (mean= 78; SD= 6; N= 67). Largest male SVL 544 mm and female 801 mm. Head length in males 14.62–23.98 mm (mean= 18.05; SD= 1.78; N= 83) and females 15.98–30.21 mm (mean= 20.87; SD= 2.59; N= 90). Head width in males 8.55–13.66 mm (mean= 10.58; SD= 1.25; N= 80) and females 8.28–17.68 mm (mean= 12.59; SD= 2.17; N= 85). TL in males 105–201 mm (mean= 148.06; SD= 20.18; N= 62) and females 92–188 mm (mean= 139.73; SD= 19.85; N= 62). (Costa et al. 2022: Supplement S2).
 
CommentSynonymy after PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970, Villa et al. 1988, AND COSTA et al. 2022. Wallach et al. 2014: 368 listed this species as synonym of L. annulata. Telescopus dipsadomorphoides AHL 1925 was listed by Perret 1961 as a species from Cameroon. However, this was apparently in error, as the original name, Tarbophis dipsadomorphoides AHL 1925, is a synonym of Leptodeira ashmeadi (previously a synonym or subspecies of L. annulata). See also Costa et al. 2022 (supplement S2).

Hybridization: ROZE 1958 reports Leptodeira annulata annulata x ashmeadii hybrids.

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

Distribution: see map in Costa et al. 2022: Fig. 9 in Supplement S2. 
EtymologyThe generic name is derived from the Greek words leptos, meaning "thin" and deire, meaning "neck."

The specios has been named after the diminutive form (“annul-”) of Latin “anus” = ring.

ashmeadi has been named after the collector of the types, Samuel Ashmead. 
References
  • Barrio-Amorós, César L. 2019. On the taxonomy of snakes in the genus Leptodeira, with an emphasis on Costa Rican species. IRCF 26 (1): 1–15 - get paper here
  • Boos, H.E.A. 2001. The snakes of Trinidad and Tobago. Texas A&M University Press, 270 pp.
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Costa, J. C., Graboski, R., Grazziotin, F. G., Zaher, H., Rodrigues, M. T., & Prudente, A. L. D. C. 2022. Reassessing the systematics of Leptodeira (Serpentes, Dipsadidae) with emphasis in the South American species. Zoologica Scripta 51, 415– 433;Corrigendum: Zoologica Scripta 51: 614-615 - get paper here
  • Duellman,W.E. 1958. A monographic study of the colubrid snake genus Leptodeira. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 114 (1): 1-152 - get paper here
  • Dunn,E.R. 1944. Los géneros de anfibios y reptiles de Colombia, III. Orden de las serpientes. Caldasia 3 (12): 155-224 - get paper here
  • Gorzula, Stefan & Senaris, J. Celsa 1999. In: Contribution to the herpetofauna of the Venezuelan Guayana. I: a data base. Scientia Guaianae, Caracas, No. 8 [1998], 269+ pp.; ISBN 980-6020-48-0
  • Hallowell, E. 1845. Descriptions of reptiles from South America, supposed to be new. Proc. Acad. nat. Sci. Philad., 2: 241-247 - 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
  • Mertens, R. 1972. Herpetofauna tobagana. Stuttgarter Beitr. zur Naturkunde nr. 252 22 pp. - get paper here
  • Perret, J.L. 1961. Études herpétologiques africaines III. 1. La faune ophidienne de la région camerounaise. Bull. Soc. neuchâtel. Sci. nat., 84: 133-138
  • Peters, James A.; Donoso-Barros, Roberto & Orejas-Miranda, Braulio 1970. Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: Part I Snakes. Bull. US Natl. Mus. 297: 347 pp. - get paper here
  • Shreve,B. 1949. On Venezuelan reptiles and amphibians collected by Dr. H.G. Kugler. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 99 [1947]: 519-537 - get paper here
  • Sierra-Serrano, Oscar; Gerson Salcedo-Rivera; Anny Marmolejo-Vargas, Juan David Jiménez Bolaño 2023. Use of leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens as nurseries for eggs of Ashmead's Banded Cat-Eyed Snakes, Leptodeira Ashmeadii (Hallowell 1845) Reptiles & Amphibians 30 (1): e18149 - get paper here
 
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