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Psammophis zambiensis HUGHES & WADE, 2002

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Higher TaxaPsammophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Zambian Whip Snake 
SynonymPsammophis zambiensis HUGHES & WADE 2002
Psammophis sibilans — PITMAN 1934: 297 (not LINNAEUS 1758) (part.)
Dromophis lineatus — LAURENT 1956: 247 (not DUMÉRIL & BIBRON)
Psammophis ? sibilans — BROADLEY & PITMAN 1960: 445
Psammophis brevirostris leopardinus — BROADLEY 1971: 88;
Psammophis brevirostris leopardinus — BRANDSTÄTTER 1995: 53,
Psammophis brevirostris leopardinus — BRANDSTÄTTER 1996: 48
Psammophis brevirostris leopardinus — HAAGNER et al. 2000:16.
Psammophis sibilans leopardinus — BROADLEY 1977: 18
Psammophis brevirostris leopardinus — BRANDSTÄTTER 1996:48
Psammophis zambiensis — BROADLEY et al. 2003: 170
Psammophis zambiensis — BROADLEY & COTTERILL 2004
Psammophis zambiensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 582
Psammophis zambiensis — TRAPE et al. 2019: 75 
DistributionN Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire: Katanga), Angola, central Malawi

Type locality: supposedly from 'Abercorn' (now Mbala) area of Zambia  
TypesType: BMNH 1959.1.1.81, part of the H.I. Breda collection, sent on from Brussels, but likely to be from M weru-Wantip. Paratypes: PEM R967 (formerly PEM 1438/12); 
DiagnosisDescription. (23 specimens examined) Nostril pierced between 2 nasals; preocular 1, separated from frontal; postoculars 2; temporals usually 2+2/3; supralabials 8 (rarely 7 or 9), the 4th & 5th (rarely 3rd & 4th) entering orbit; infralabials 9 or 10, the first 4 in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales in 17-17-13 rows; ventrals 147–161; cloacal divided (entire in NMZB 16601); subcaudals 72–83. Brandstätter (1995, fig. 39) has published a SEM micrograph of a dorsal scale of NMZB 10636 from Ikelenge, Zambia.
Dorsum greenish-brown, top of head with complex pale markings; labials yellowish speckled with black; a pale double chain marking covers the dorsal nine scale rows anteriorly, dorsal scales heavily edged in black (more extensive in juveniles and subadults), a pale dorsolateral stripe on scale row 4 and 5 continues caudad; lower half of outer scale row and ventrals greenish, free edges of ventral irregularly bordered with black (more extensive in subadults). Two specimens from Sakeji School (Haagner et al. 2000), and all those from the Muchinga escarpment and Malawi, lack the distinctive dorsal and ventral markings, but are still distinguishable from sympatric / parapatric P. mossambicus by their low ventral and subcaudal counts [Trape et al. 2019: 75]. 
CommentSimilar species: P. leopardinus. This taxon was originally assigned to P. leopardinus, which it resembles in dorsal colour pattern, but it differs in its much lower mandibular tooth counts and also lower ventral and subcaudal counts. In addition there seems to be no connection across eastern Angola and the two forms occupy very different habitats. The sequences of “P. occidentalis” from Zambia and Burundi in Kelly et al. (2008). See Hughes & Wade (2002) for further data (Trape et al. 2019: 77).

Habitat. Apparently inhabiting swampy areas in moist miombo woodland in Zambia and Katanga or montane grassland in Malawi. 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
  • Broadley, D.G.; Doria, C.T. & Wigge, J. 2003. Snakes of Zambia. An Atlas and Field Guide. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 280 pp. [review in Sauria 26 (3): 21]
  • 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
  • CONRADIE, WERNER; NINDA L. BAPTISTA, LUKE VERBURGT, CHAD KEATES, JAMES HARVEY, TIMOTEO JULIO & GOTZ NEEF. 2021. Contributions to the herpetofauna of the Angolan Okavango-Cuando-Zambezi river drainages. Part 1: Serpentes (snakes). Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 15(2): 244–278. - get paper here
  • CONRADIE, WERNER; WILLIAM R. BRANCH, & GILLIAN WATSON 2019. Type specimens in the Port Elizabeth Museum, South Africa, including the historically important Albany Museum collection. Part 2: Reptiles (Squamata). Zootaxa 4576 (1): 001–045 - get paper here
  • Hughes, B. 2002. On the African leopard whip snake, Psammophis leopardinus Bocage, 1887 (Serpentes, Colubridae), with the description of a new species from Zambia. Bull. nat. Hist. Mus. Lond (Zool.), 68(2): 75-81 - get paper here
  • Marques, Mariana P.; Luis M. P. Ceríaco , David C. Blackburn , and Aaron M. Bauer 2018. Diversity and Distribution of the Amphibians and Terrestrial Reptiles of Angola -- Atlas of Historical and Bibliographic Records (1840–2017). Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (Ser. 4) 65: 1-501 (Supplement II)
  • Trape, Jean-François; Pierre-André Crochet, Donald G. Broadley, Patricia Sourouille, Youssouph Mané, Marius Burger, Wolfgang Böhme, Mostafa Saleh, Anna Karan, Benedetto Lanza & Oleg Mediannikov 2019. On the Psammophis sibilans group (Serpentes, Lamprophiidae, Psammophiinae) north of 12°S, with the description of a new species from West Africa. Bonn zoological Bulletin 68 (1): 61–91 - 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.
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