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Oligodon arnensis (SHAW, 1802)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Russet Kukri Snake, Common kukri snake, Banded kukri
G: Gemeine Kukrinatter 
SynonymColuber arnensis SHAW 1802: 526
Simotes albiventer GÜNTHER 1864 (fide SMITH 1943)
Simotes arnensis — BOULENGER 1890
Simotes arnensis — WALL 1908
Oligodon arnensis — WALL 1921: 231
Oligodon arnensis — SMITH 1943: 225
Oligodon arnensis — DAS 1996: 57
Oligodon arnensis — MURTHY 2010
Oligodon arnensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 494
Oligodon arnesis — FELLOWS 2015 (in error)
Oligodon amensis — MANHAS et a. 2017 (in error)
Oligodon arnesis — BANDARA et al. 2022 
DistributionSri Lanka, India (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka)

Type locality: Arni (near Arcot), 100 km west of Madras.  
TypesLectotype: iconotype: Russell 1796, plate 38 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Oligodon arnensis sensu stricto is distributed in southern India and Sri Lanka, and is distinguished from other congeners by having the following combination of characters: adults reach maximum SVL550mm,asinglepreocular,twopostoculars,noloreal scale, divided cloacal plate, entire nasal scale or partially divided in some populations, ventrals 164–175 in males and 181–188 in females, subcaudals 46–52 in both males and females combined, temporals 1 þ 2, seven supralabials with third and fourth in contact with eye, DSRs 17-17-15, TL 13.5–17.1% of total length in males, olive brownish dorsum with 15–20 more or less equal sized black cross bands (with thickness of 3–4 vertebral scales and 7–12 scales in between cross bands at midbody position) along the body and 3–6 on the tail, two V-shaped black markings on interorbital and parietal–frontal regions, another inverted V-shaped black marking on the nape. Oligodon arnensis is most similar to O. russelius comb. nov., O. churahensis, and the new species, but differs by having several diagnostic characters. (Bandara et al. 2022: 58, see Table 1 for a comparison of characters).

Redescription. Based on examined preserved materials (Appendix, n = 6 from southern India) adults with SVL 147– 350 mm, TL 23.0–71.0 mm; head elongate (HL 3.2–4.5% of SVL), wide (HW 62.2–81.7% of HL), slightly flattened, indistinct from neck; snout elongate (ES 32.1–35.3% of HL), moderate, flat in dorsal view, pointed in lateral profile, rather depressed.
Rostral shield large, flat, distinctly visible from above, pointed posteriorly; interorbital width broad (IO 49.6–62.2% of HW); internasals subtriangular; nostrils rather large, nasals large and elongated, in anterior contact with rostral, and internasal and prefrontal dorsally, first and second supralabials ventrally, prefrontal posteriorly; no loreal; prefrontal rather large, broader than long, and subhexagonal; frontal large, pentagonal, short, length same as width; supraoculars narrow, short, subrectangular, posteriorly wider; parietals large, elongate, butterfly-wing-like in shape, bordered by supraoculars, frontal, upper or both postocular anteriorly, anterior and upper posterior temporals, and five or six nuchal scales posteriorly; one preocular, vertically elongated, subrectangular, in contact with prefrontal anteriorly, supraocular dorsally, and third supralabial ventrally; eye moderate (ED 13.2–19.9% of HL), round, nearly half of the size of snout length (ED 41.0–56.3% of ES), pupil rounded; two postoculars, subequal or sometimes upper one larger, rounded or subquadrangular, upper postocular in broad contact with supraocular and parietal, lower postocular in contact with anterior temporal and fourth and fifth supralabials; temporals 1 þ 2, elongated, subrectangular; anterior temporal almost the same size as upper posterior temporal, in contact with parietal and both postoculars dorsally, and fifth and sixth supralabials ventrally; lower posterior temporal in contact with sixth and seventh supralabials ventrally. Supralabials seven (on both sides), 5th–7th largest in size; first supralabial in contact with rostral anteriorly, nasal dorsally, second with nasal and prefrontal dorsally, third with preocular and orbit dorsally, fourth with orbit and the lower postocular dorsally, fifth with lower postocular and anterior temporal dorsally, and sixth with anterior and lower posterior temporals dorsally, seventh with lower posterior temporal dorsally and scales of the neck posteriorly.
Mental of smaller size, triangular; first infralabial pair larger than mental plate and in broad contact with each other, in contact with anterior chin shields posteriorly; seven infralabials, 1st–3rd in contact with anterior chin shields, fourth infralabial largest in size in contact with both anterior and posterior chin shields; 4th–7th infralabials in contact with gular scales; two larger anterior chin shields, and two smaller posterior chin shields; anterior chin shields in broad contact between them; posterior chin shields bordered posteriorly by six gular scales.
Body robust, elongate and subcylindrical; dorsal scales in 17-17-15 rows, all smooth and pointed posteriorly; 164–175 ventrals in males and 181–188 in females; cloacal plate divided. Tail comparatively short (TL 13.5–17.1% of total length in males), robust and thick; subcaudals 47–48 in males and 46–51 in females, divided. (Bandara et al. 2022: 58)

Coloration. In preservative, dorsum light olive brown, lateral surface paler and yellowish; 15–20 black cross bands along the body and 3–6 on the tail; cross bands complete laterally, and almost reaching the ventrals; the markings on the tail distinct; two inverted V-shaped black markings on the head, (1) the first one on the interorbital region, starting from anterior edge of supraoculars, pointing forward to prefrontal–internasal region; in some individuals the V-shaped marking almost C-shaped; (2) the second one on the parietal–frontal region, starting from the gape of the mouth, pointing forward to frontal region, and complete the V shape at the interorbital position; another thick, inverted V-shaped black marking on the nape, starting from the lateral neck, pointing forward to the level of the interparietal region; dark blotches below the eye on each side, usually on the second, fourth, and fifth supralabials; all the dark markings are colored in a range of dark brown, from chocolate brown to black; venter uniform yellow or cream. (Bandara et al. 2022: 61)

Coloration in life (Fig. 6B), same color as in preservative, but all the dark markings may be visible in a range of grey, from dark grey to black; venter uniform cream. Cross bands of juveniles are faintly margined with white and absent in adults.(Bandara et al. 2022: 61) 
CommentDistribution: reports from N and W India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bhutan, are now considered as O. tillacki and O. russelius. See map in Bandara et al. 2022: 65 (Fig. 10). 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
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