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Prosymna meleagris (REINHARDT, 1843)

IUCN Red List - Prosymna meleagris - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaProsymnidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Ghana Shovel-snout, Speckled Shovel-snout Snake 
SynonymCalamaria meleagris REINHARDT 1843
Temnorhynchus meleagris PETERS 1875: 198
Prosymna meleagris — LOVERIDGE 1955
Prosymna meleagris — BROADLEY 1998
Prosymna meleagris — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 525
Prosymna meleagris — WALLACH et al. 2014: 581 
DistributionSenegal, Guinea (Conakry), Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia (HÅKANSSON 1981)

Type locality: "Guinea," as old museum specimen, possibly near Gambia? [fide LOVERIDGE 1958]  
TypesLectotype: ZMUC 60618
Holotype: MCZ [laurenti] 
DiagnosisDefinition (genus): Maxillary teeth 7-11, the foremost minute, the rest increasing in size posteriorly to the last 3, which are large, strongly compressed, lancet-like; palatal teeth minute, vestigial or absent ; mandibular teeth few, very small, subequal. Head not distinct from neck, snout strongly depressed, projecting, with angular or sharp horizontal edge ; eye relatively small, with vertically subelliptic pupil; nasal semidivided by a (sometimes interrupted or absent) horizontal suture extending from the nostril to the loreal; a preocular (usually single, occasionally absent) ; internasal single or paired; prefrontal usually single. Body cylindrical, short; scales smooth or keeled, with apical pits in 15-21 rows; anal entire. Tail short, terminating in a horny spine; subcaudals paired [from LOVERIDGE 1958]. 
CommentProsymna maleagris greigerti MOCQUARD 1906 (and its subspecies collaris) have been elevated to full species status.

Type species: Calamaria meleagris REINHARDT 1843 is the type species of the genus Prosymna GRAY 1849.

Type genus: Prosymna GRAY 1849 is also the type genus of the family Prosymnidae KELLY et al. 2009 (or subfamily Prosymninae as used here). Only the genus Prosymna is currently included in this family (Vidal et al. 2008).

Distribution: apparently not in Guinea-Bissau (?), Uganda, W Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), S Sudan, Mali, Mauritania, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso (Lobi), as reported previously (see Chirio et al. 2011). Listed for Ethiopia by LARGEN & RASMUSSEN 1993. Not in East Africa (i.e. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi fide S. Spawls, pers. comm., 28 June 2018).

History: Calamaria meleagris was described by Reinhardt on the basis of two specimens (a third, subsequently seen, re- ceives passing mention in a postscript), obviously a male and female, though this is not stated. Both were from "Guinea," a name that in 1843 was applied to any of the countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea from Portuguese Guinea to the French Congo. Fortunately Reinhardt states that his two snakes had different origins. One formed part of a collection sent to Copenhagen Museum in 1836 by Herr Chenon, assistant to the "government establishment on the coast." Presumably he refers to Christiansborg, one-time seat of Danish administration on the coast of Ghana near Accra, for the various species of snakes donated by Chenon are still common in Ghana [from LOVERIDGE 1958].

Diet: reptile eggs 
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  • Barnett, Linda K. 2001. The herpetofauna of Abuko Nature Reserve, the Gambia. Herpetological Bulletin (77): 5-1 - get paper here
  • Böhme, Wolfgang, Mark-Oliver Rödel, Christian Brede & Philipp Wagner 2011. The reptiles (Testudines, Squamata, Crocodylia) of the forested southeast of the Republic Guinea (Guinée forestière), with a country-wide checklist. Bonn zoological Bulletin 60 (1): 35-61 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1979. Predation on Reptile Eggs by African Snakes of the Genus Prosymna. Herpetologica 35 (4): 338-341 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1980. A revision of the African snake genus Prosymna Gray. Bull. Mus. natl. Hist. nat., Paris 22: 362-382
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