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Liopholidophis rhadinaea CADLE, 1996

IUCN Red List - Liopholidophis rhadinaea - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaPseudoxyrhophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymLiopholidophis rhadinaea CADLE 1996: 373
Liopholidophis rhadinaea — GLAW et al. 2007
Liopholidophis rhadinaea — WALLACH et al. 2014: 396 

Type locality: Talatakely, Ranomafana National Park, 950–1,000 m elevation, Fivondronana Ifanadiana, Fianarantsoa Province, Madagascar [21°16’S, 47°25’E].  
Reproductionoviparous (details in Cadle 1996: 380). 
TypesHolotype: MCZ 180395 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Liopholidophis rhadinaea differs from all other members of the genus by the following combination of features: dorsal scales in 17-17-15 rows; tail 37-43% of total length in males, 24-27% in females; small size and slender habitus (largest known male 749 mm total length, largest known female 424 mm total length); ventrals 170-179 in males, 150-160 in females; subcaudals 126-135 in males, 69-77 in females; usually 8 upper labials (but high frequency of 7); 8 or 9 lower labials; and pattern consisting of three light yellowish brown nape spots (Fig. 2), broad dark brown stripe occupying middorsal 3 to 5 scale rows, narrow light yellowish brown dorsolateral stripes centered on scale rows 6 (anteriorly) or 5 (posteriorly), dark brown line on dorsal row 1, and light venter (pink to vermilion in life) (see Figs. 1, 4,5).
Liopholidophis rhadinaea differs from species of the stumpffi group in having17-
17-15 scale rows and strong sexual dimorphism in tail length (19-19-17 scale rows and no strong dimorphism in tail length in the stumpffi group).
Four previously described valid nominal species of Liopholidophis (dolicocercus, grandidieri, pinguis, sexlineatus; cf. Table 1) have 17-17-15 rows, but all are larger and more robust than L. rhadinaea. Liopholidophis dolicocercus (to 928 mm total length in males, 992 mm in females) has fewer ventrals in both sexes (156-157 in males, 143-150 in females) and more subcaudals in males (140-164), has a distinctively patterned black venter bordered laterally with white stripes, and lacks discrete stripes on the dorsum. Liopholidophis grandidieri (to 1,636 mm total length in males, 674 mm in females) has a black venter, lacks distinct middorsal dark and dorsolateral light stripes (yellowish brown to yellow middorsal area heavily suffused with black or dark brown; lateral dark stripe on rows 2 + 3), and has a longer tail with more subcaudals in both sexes (tail >50% of total length and >200 subcaudals in two males; 35% of total length and 98-113 subcaudals in two females). Liopholidophis pinguis (to 890 mm total length in males, 685 mm in females) has an olive dorsal ground color with dark stripes (sometimesindistinct)andlackslightnape spots; males of pinguis have fewer ventrals (151-154), a shorter tail (33% of total length), and fewer subcaudals (91-98) than males of rhadinaea. Liopholidophis sexlineatus (to 1,338 mm total length in males, 726 mm in females) differs from L. rhadinaea in having fewer ventrals (148-163 inmales,139-148infemales),havingan olive dorsal ground color with black stripes, lacking light nape spots, and having a whitish belly that may be heavily suffused or mottled with black.
Liophidium rhodogaster is sympatric with Liopholidophis rhadinaea at the two known localities for the latter and is very similar in overall appearance, including dorsal pattern and (in life) pink venter (this resemblance was noted by Domergue[1988] in discussing MNHN1988-333, which he considered an undescribed species of Liophidium; cf. Figs. 1 and 5 with Glaw and Vences [1994:pl. 339]). Liophidium rhodogaster differs from Liopholidophis rhadinaea in lacking dorsal scale row reductions (17-17-17), having more ventrals (184-212 in the RNP), lacking extreme sexual dimorphism in relative tail length, and having a shorter tail in general (18-23% of total length, sexes combined) (Cadle 1996: 374; measurements, proportions, and scutellation are summarized in Table 1).

Further description in Cadle 1996: 376.

Coloration: Cadle 1996: 378. 
CommentSympatry: In the RNP, Liopholidophis rhadinaea is broadly sympatric with the following species of Liopholidophis: lateralis, epistibes, new species, infrasignatus (”thieli"), grandidieri, dolicocercus, and sexlineatus. Of these, all except lateralis, grandidieri, and sexlineatus are known to be microsympatric with rhadinaea (i.e., to occur in the closed-canopy forest habitat where all specimens of rhadinaea have been collected). In the RNP, lateralis tends to occur in more open habitats, whereas sexlineatus prefers marshy to aquatic habitats, and is especially common in rice paddies; grandidieri is known from the RNP by a single specimen collected atop a granite massif with rather open habitats (additional comments later). At Perinet, rhadinaea is broadly sympatric with at least the following species of Liopholidophis: epistibes, new species, lateralis, infrasignatus (''thieli”), sexlineatus, and pinguis (Cadle 1996: 380). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a noun in apposition referring to the Neo- tropical snake genus Rhadinaea, many species of which are strikingly similar to Liopholidophisrhadinaeainhabitus,col- oration, pattern, and montane forest hab- itat. The name also alludes to the char- acteristic slenderness of both L. rhadinaea and species of Rhadinaea (from the Greek proper name Rhadine, itself derived from rhadinos [=slender, lithe; see Myers, 1974: 16, 19]). 
  • Andreone F., Randrianirina J., Jenkins P.D. & Aprea G. 2000. Species diversity of Amphibia, Reptilia and Lipotyphla (Mammalia) at Ambolokopatrika, a rainforest between the Anjanaharibe-Sud and Marojejy massifs, NE Madagascar. Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 1587–1622
  • Cadle, J. E. 1996. Snakes of the genus Liopholidophis (Colubridae) from Eastern Madagascar: New species, revisionary notes, and an estimate of phylogeny. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 154 (5): 369-464. - get paper here
  • Cadle, John E. 2009. Sexual Dimorphism and Reproductive Biology in the Malagasy Snake Genus Liopholidophis (Lamprophiidae: Pseudoxyrhophiinae) Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. 60 (15): 461–502
  • Gehring, P.S. 2010. Fady, Tavy und Aye-Aye - unterwegs im Nordosten Madagaskars. Elaphe 18 (2): 62-71
  • Glaw, F.; Nagy, Z.T.; Franzen, M. & Vences, M. 2007. Molecular phylogeny and systematics of the pseudoxyrhophiine snake genus Liopholidophis (Reptilia, Colubridae): evolution of its exceptional sexual dimorphism and descriptions of new taxa. Zoologica Scripta 36: 291–300 - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - 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.
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