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Lycodon aulicus (LINNAEUS, 1758)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Indian Wolf Snake, Common Wolf Snake
G: Gewöhnliche Wolfszahnnatter
Chinese: 白环蛇 
SynonymColuber aulicus LINNAEUS 1758: 220
Natrix aulica — LAURENTI 1768: 74
Lycodon unicolor BOIE 1827 (fide SMITH 1943)
Lycodon subfuscus CANTOR 1839 (fide SMITH 1943)
Lycodon atropurpureus CANTOR 1839 (fide SMITH 1943)
Boaedon unicolor — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 359
Lycodon aulicum — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 369
Lycodon aulicus — GÜNTHER 1864
Lycodon aulicus — STOLICZKA 1870: 201
Lycodon atropurpureus — BOULENGER 1891: 463
Lycodon aulicus — BOULENGER 1893: 352
Lycodon atropurpureus — BOULENGER 1893: 356
Ophites aulicus — WALL 1921
Lycodon aulicus — WALL 1921: 151
Lycodon aulicus — SMITH 1943: 263
Ophites aulicus TEO & RAJATHURAI 1997
Lycodon aulicus — LANZA 1999
Lycodon aulicus — MURTHY 2010
Lycodon aulicus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 391 
DistributionIndia (north to Himalyas and Assam; Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra [A. Captain, pers. comm.]; throughout India: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkand, Punjab [Dino Aulakh, pers. comm.], Tripura), Pakistan, Nepal (Terai, Dolakha District, Kathmandu valley), Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka (David & Vogel 1996), Bangladesh, China

Type locality: “America” (in error). “India” fide KRAMER 1977  
Reproductionoviparous. Eight to 16 elongated eggs (28 × 12 mm) are laid in 2–3 bunches of 3–5 eggs each (Khan 2014) 
TypesHolotype: NRM (Stockholm) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Species of the genus Lycodon are characterized by (1) their strongly arched maxillary bone bending inwards anteriorly, having three to six enlarged and fang-like anterior maxillary teeth without venomous grooves, increasing in size posteriorly, separated by a diastema from the posterior seven to fifteen teeth, posteriorly increasing in size, the last two being enlarged; (2) rounded orbit with vertical elliptic pupil; (3) smooth or weakly keeled dorsal scales in rows of 15–21 (Smith 1943; Taylor 1965; Lanza 1999; Stuebing et al. 1999; Daltry & Wüster 2002; Das 2010; Vogel & David 2010; Vogel et al. 2009, 2012); (4) most wolf snakes have a distinct or indistinct white or pale brown nuchal collar followed posteriorly by a black to blackish-brown ground color with various white, cream or yellow bands, blotches and speckles (some without pale coloration) on body and tail; (5) the anal plate varies from divided to undivided (Lanza 1999; Daltry & Wüster 2002; Das 2010, Neang et al. 2014).

Diagnosis (aulicus). A species of Lycodon inhabiting the Indian subcontinent, characterised by (1) a wide and large head, (2) a distinct creamy white col- lar-mark on head across parietal scales converging to- wards snout-tip, (3) a dark blackish-brown body with creamy white cross bars in life, (4) preocular usually contacting frontal, (5) supraocular usually not contacting prefrontal, (6) a fairly elongate hemipenis with smaller flounces and spines, (7) supralabials white, usually 9 on each side, (8) divided anal scale, (9) scale rows 17:17:15, (10) ventrals: 180–215 and subcaudals: 57–78 pairs, (11) relative tail length 0.15–0.20 [Ganesh & Vogel 2018] 
CommentFor a discussion of nomenclatorial issues concerning the genera Lycodon and Ophites see Zhao & Adler (who listed this species under Ophites).

Type species: Coluber aulicus LINNAEUS 158 is the type species of the genus Lycodon BOIE in FITZINGER 1826: 30, 5.

Synonymy: Figueroa et al. 2016 synonymized Dryocalamus with Lycodon. Dryocalamus is nested within Lycodon (also see the pylogenetic tree in Wostl et al. 2017), hence the Philippine Lycodon must be moved to a new genus or Dryocalamus synonymized with Lycodon. Although Wickramasinghe et al. 2020 argued that Dryocalamus should remain, citing Zaher et al. 2019, the latter authors confirmed that Dryocalamus nests within Lycodon.

Characters: see Janssen et al. 2019 for a table of characters across all Lycodon species.

Similar species: Lycodon capucinus (both aulicus and capucinus are “almost indistinguishable” (O’Shea et al. 2018).

Distribution: Taylor 1922 reported Ophites aulicus from the Philippines; however, Leviton et al. 2018 treated L. aulicus as a synonym of L. capucinus.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
EtymologyEtymology (genus): named after Greek lykos = wolf, and Greek “odous, odontos” = tooth, i.e. wolf teeth. 
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  • Zhao,E. & Adler,K. 1993. Herpetology of China. SSAR, Oxford/Ohio, 1-522
  • Zug, G.R. & Mitchell, J.C. 1995. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Asiatic Herpetological Research 6: 172-180 - get paper here
  • Zug, George R.;Win, Htun;Thin, Thin;Min, Than Zaw;Lhon, Win Zaw;Kyaw, Kyaw 1998. Herpetofauna of the Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary, north-central Myanmar with preliminary observations of their Natural History. Hamadryad 23 (2): 111-120
 
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