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Lycodon fausti GAULKE, 2002

IUCN Red List - Lycodon fausti - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Faust’s Wolf Snake 
SynonymLycodon fausti GAULKE 2002
Lycodon fausti — GAULKE 2011: 292
Lycodon fausti — WALLACH et al. 2014: 393 
DistributionPhilippines (Panay)

Type locality: Barangay Guia, Municipality Pandan, Antique Province, NW Panay Peninsula, Philippines.  
TypesHolotype: PNM 7271 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. L. fausti is characterized as a member of the genus Lycodon by the following features: body elongate and cylindrical; head moderately distinct from neck and somewhat flattened; maxillary teeth separated into three series by two diastemata. PNM 7271 differs from congeners by a combination of the following characters: 1. anal scale undivided; 2. 135 subcaudal scales; 3. midbody scales in 17 rows: 4. 24 mottled white and brown bands across the otherwise dark brown back, which are bordered on both sides by a small white line; the light bands are two scales wide medially, and extend to a width of three to four scales lateroventrally; space in between broader than adjacent bands, seven to eight scales wide medially, narrowing lateroventrally (Fig. 2); 5. head surface dark reddish brown, with irregular lighter markings in temporaland loreal region; 6. ventralia light cream, uniform at anterior part, with lateral brown markings posteriorly; 7. subcaudalia heavily mottled brown, becoming darker towards tip (Fig. 3 in Gaulke 2002).

Comparisons: Leviton (1965) recognized five species of the genus Lycodon from the Philippines: L. aulicus eapueinus Boie, 1826, L. subcinetus sealei Leviton, 1955, L. tesselatus Jan, 1863, L. muelleri Dumeril, Bibron & Dumeril, 1854, and L. dumerili (Boulenger, 1893). Four more Philippine congeners are described by Ota & Ross (1994): L. alcalai, L. bibonius, L. chrysoprateros, a n d L. solivagus, and one by Lanza (1999): L. ferroni. L. aulicus capucinus, L. subcinetus sealei, a n d L. tesselatus differ from all other Lycodon species known from the Philippines in having fewer than two preoculars, less than 80 subcaudals, and a divided anal. Until recently, L. tesselatus (known from two specimens only) was separated from all other Philippine Lycodon species referring to its undivided nasal (e.g. Lanza 1999, Leviton 1965, Ota & Ross 1994). However, the examination of the holotype (NMW 21708) by Ota (2000) revealed that this species has a divided nasal like its congeners, and is closely related to L. aulicus (including L. a. capucinus). It can be differentiated from L. aulicus by its peculiar dorsal colour pattern, consisting of three longitudinal series of alternating squarish black spots. The remaining Philippine species show an overall similarity in pholidosis, having an entire anal, more than 100 subcaudals, and two, or one and two preoculars. However, the new species is the first Philippine Lycodon with more than 130 subcaudals, and in accordance with the subcaudal count more than 130 vertebral scales on the tail. Outside the Philippines, only one Lycodon with more than 130 subcaudals is known. L. albofuscus from Nias, Sumatra, and Borneo has 155-208 paired subcaudals, so actually much more than L. fausti. Besides, L. albofuscus has a divided anal, strongly keeled dorsals, and a completely different colour pattern. L. fausti can also be distinguished by the number and/or appearance of the light body and tail bands from its related Philippine congeners: It differs from L. muelleri in having only 24 instead of 51-70 (n=9, Ota & Ross 1994) light body bands, and 21 instead of 30-38 tail bands. From L. dumerili and L. ferroni it differs in their number (15-19 body bands and 10-12 tail bands in L. dumerili [n=6, Ota & Ross 1994]; 17 body bands and 10 tail bands in the single known specimen of L. ferroni), and in their appearance. While the light bands of L. dumerili and L. ferroni are broad and almost white, and the dark bands surround the body (in L. ferroni) or at least encroach on the ventrals, the light bands of L. fausti are small and rather light brown than white, and the dark bands don't even border the ventrals. It differs from L. alcalai and L. chrysoprateros in the possession of light body and tail bands (both have a more or less uniform brown dorsal side), and from L. solivagus in the development and appearance of the body bands, which occur only on the anterior part of the body in L. solivagus. It differs from L. bibonius in the appearance of the body bands, which have very irregular margins in L. bibonius (Ota & Ross: Fig. 6A, p. 164) while those of L. fausti are symmetrical. The dark interspaces of L. bibonius contain some light mottling, while those of L. fausti are uniform dark. The head of L. bibonius is light brown, while the head of L. fausti is dark reddish brown. Because no variation is known for the new species so far, it does not seem appropriate to discuss other pholidosis characteristics besides of the subcaudal counts. As the investigations of the other species have demonstrated (Leviton 1965, Ota & Ross 1994), numbers of head shields like temporals, preand postoculars may be variable. L. ferroni, like L. fausti, so far is known only from the holotype (36690 MZUF), therefore nothing is known on its variability either (Gaulke 2002). 
Etymologynamed in honor of Richard Faust, former president of the Zoological Society Frankfurt until his death in November 2000. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Gaulke, M. 2002. A new species of Lycodon from Panay Island, Philippines (Reptilia, Serpentes, Colubridae). Spixiana 25 (1): 85-92 - get paper here
  • Gaulke, M. 2011. The herpetofauna of Panay Island, Philippines. Edition Chimaira, 390 pp.
  • Gaulke, M. 2019. Zur Schlangenfauna der philippinischen Insel Panay. Elaphe 2019 (2): 46-57
  • Gaulke, M.; Demegillo, A.; Reiter, J. & Tacud, B. 2003. Additions to the herpetofauna of Panay Island, Philippines. Salamandra 39 (2): 111-122 - get paper here
  • Janssen HY, Pham CT, Ngo HT, Le MD, Nguyen TQ, Ziegler T 2019. A new species of Lycodon Boie, 1826 (Serpentes, Colubridae) from northern Vietnam. ZooKeys 875: 1-29 - 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.
  • Weinell, Jeffrey L.; Errol Hooper, Alan E. Leviton, Rafe M. Brown 2019. Illustrated Key to the Snakes of the Philippines. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (4) 66 (1): 1-49 - get paper here
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