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Lycodonomorphus mlanjensis LOVERIDGE, 1953

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Mlanje White-bellied Water-Snake 
SynonymLycodonomorphus rufulus mlanjensis LOVERIDGE 1953: 253
Lycodonomorphus rufulus mlanjensis — FITZSIMONS 1966
Lycodonomorphus leleupi mlanjensis — MARAIS 2004
Lycodonomorphus mlanjensis — BROADLEY & COTTERILL 2004
Lycodonomorphus mlanjensis — BROADLEY & BLAYLOCK 2013
Lycodonomorphus mlanjensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 398
Lycodonomorphus mlanjensis — PIETERSEN et al. 2021 
DistributionE Zimbabwe, S Mozambique, Malawi

Type locality: Ruo River, Mlanje Mountain, Nyasaland [= Malawi].  
TypesHolotype: MCZ 51050, an adult male; Collected by Arthur Loveridge, April 1, 1949. Paratypes: MCZ 51049 and a duplicate now in British Museum (N.H.), being two males from a stream near Nswadzi River, Cholo Mountain, Nyasaland. Collected on 16 and 22, April, 1949. Also an adult female (British Museum, No., from Zomba, Nyasaland. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: L. mlanjensis is distinguished from rufulus and all its races except r. leleupi of the Congo, by possessing 21 mid- body scale-rows. From r. leleupi (and laevissimus, of which two individuals with 21 scale-rows have been reported), it is readily distinguished by its immaculate white throat and belly.

Diagnosis (original): Though L. r. rufulus is a common South African snake of which many specimens have been collected, only two examples with more than 19 midbody scale-rows have been recorded during the past 125 years. The new form is, therefore, distinguished from all other races of rufulus, except L. r. leleupi Laurent of the Belgian Congo, by its 21 midbody scale-rows, and in addition from r. whytii, the only other race found north of the Zambezi, by its higher number of subcaudals. Its immaculate throat and belly immediately distinguish it from adults of L. r. leleupi and L. laevissimus of South Africa, the only other species in the genus (Loveridge 1953: 253).

Description: Loveridge 1953: 254 
CommentDiet: frogs, fish

Habitat. aquatic, in swamps, pools, and rivers in montane grassland and savanna. 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
  • Broadley, D. & Blaylock 2013. The Snakes of Zimbabwe and Botswana. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 387 pp. [book review in Sauria 35 (2): 59 and Copeia 2014: 388] - get paper here
  • Broadley, Donald G. and F. P. D. Cotterill. 2004. The reptiles of southeast Katanga, an overlooked 'hot spot'. [Congo]. African Journal of Herpetology 53 (1): 35-61. - get paper here
  • Fitzsimons, V. 1966. A check-list, with syntopic keys, to the snakes of southern Africa. Annals Transvaal Museum 25 (3): 35-79 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1953. Zoological Results of a fifth expedition to East Africa. III. Reptiles from Nyasaland and Tete. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 110 (3): 142-322. - get paper here
  • Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa, 2nd ed. Struik Publishers, 312 pp.
  • Pietersen, Darren, Verburgt, Luke & Davies, John 2021. Snakes and other reptiles of Zambia and Malawi. Struik Nature / Penguin Random House South Africa, 376 pp., ISBN 9781775847373
  • 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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