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Rhabdophis subminiatus (SCHLEGEL, 1837)

IUCN Red List - Rhabdophis subminiatus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Red-necked Keelback
G: Rothals-Wassernatter
Chinese: 红脖颈槽蛇 
SynonymTropidonotus subminiatus SCHLEGEL 1837: 313
Natrix subminiatus BOIE 1827 (nomen nudum)
Rhabdophis subminiatus — FITZINGER 1843
Amphiesma subminiatum — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 734
Tropidonotus subminiatus — GÜNTHER 1858
? Tropidonotus manadensis GÜNTHER 1873 (fide WALLACH)
Tropidonotus subminiatus — BOULENGER 1893: 256
Pseudoxenodon intermedius LÖNNBERG 1899: 109
Tropidonotus subminiatus — WALL 1908: 320
Natrix subminiata — BARBOUR 1912
?Natrix subminiata hongkongensis MELL 1931
Natrix subminiata subminiata — MELL 1931
Rhabdophis subminiatus subminiatus — BOURRET 1936
Natrix subminiata — SMITH 1943
Natrix subminiata hongkongensis — RENDAHL 1937
Rhabdophis subminiata — MALNATE 1960
Rhabdophis subminiatus siamensis — DEUVE 1961: 14
Rhabdophis subminiatus subminiatus TAYLOR 1965
Rhabdophis subminatus — FERLAN et al. 1983 (in error)
Rhabdophis subminiatus — MANTHEY & GROSSMANN 1997: 389
Rhabdophis subminiatus — COX et al. 1998: 47
Rhabdophis subminiata — SHARMA 2004
Rhabdophis subminiatus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 636 
DistributionS China (Hainan, S Yunnan), Vietnam (Hoa Binh etc), Laos, Thailand, Southern Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi ?), West Malaysia, Singapore

Type locality: “Java”

intermedius: Indonesia (Java); Type locality: Buitenzorg, Java‖, now Bogor, West Java Province, Java, Indonesia.

hongkongensis: Type locality: Hong Kong.  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesLectotype: RMNH RENA.1067, designated paratypes: RMNH RENA.1061, 1063, 1066.
Holotype: NHMUK 1946.1.13.23, adult male [manadensis]
Holotype: unknown, fide David & vobgel 2021 [Pseudoxenodon intermedius] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): parallel and keeled dorsal scales; 15, 17, 19 or 21 rows of dorsal scales at midbody; large cephalic scales; large eyes with round pupil; divided anal plate and paired subcaudal scales; maxillary teeth separated from a pair of fangs [DORIA et al. 2013].

Diagnosis (species). A medium-sized species of the genus Rhabdophis characterized by the combination of (1) 19 (rarely 17 or 21) – 19 – 17 dorsal scale rows; (2) dorsal scales narrowly but strongly keeled, scales of 1st DSR smooth; (3) nuchal groove not visible (exceptionally a shallow groove barely visible); (4) no enlarged (exceptionally slightly enlarged) nuchal scales; (5) VEN: 132–145; SC: 59–78, paired, (6) dorsum in various shades of olive-brown, greyish-brown or pale brown, distinctly chequered and spotted with dark grey or black, diffuse blotches; (7) a pale, i.e., cream or pale yellowish-brown, dorsolateral stripe most usually present on 5th–6th dorsal scale rows, either complete or reduced to a series of longitudinally aligned pale rectangular blotches; (8) nape very dark grey or black in juvenile specimens, dark green or brown in adults; (9) upper surface and sides of the neck and anterior part of the body extensively tinged with bright vermilion-red or coral; (10) a dark brown or black subocular streak usually present (exceptionally totally absent); (11) subocular streak shaped as a narrow vertical bar or as narrow streak curved downwards or even forwards (Fig. 2A–F), resembling a comma on left side of the head), rarely a broad vertical bar or as a thick streak initially directed backwards then curved downwards; (12) venter always pale, i.e., cream or creamish-yellow, with a dark dot on the tips of each ventral, rarely only on the anterior part of the venter. The comparisons between Rhabdophis subminiatus and the three other species treated here are given in the respective accounts of these species (David & Vogel 2021).

Description. Body rather robust, stouter in large females, cylindrical; no visible nuchal groove (exceptionally a shallow groove barely visible); head elongate, rather thick, distinct from the neck; snout elongate, slightly depressed, obtuse as seen from above, oblique seen in profile, 1.6–1.8 times longer than diameter of eye; nostrils lateral and directed laterally, small, crescentic, piercing in the middle of the nasal; eye rather large, about 1.5– 1.8 times greater than the distance between its lower margin and the margin of the lip, with a round pupil; tail long, rather thick at its base, cylindrical and tapering.
The maximal total length in our sample is 759 mm (SVL 585 mm; TaL 174 mm; specimen ZMB 51785, female). The longest known male in our sample is 563 mm long (SVL 410 mm, TaL 153 mm; ZMB 83095). This species reaches a moderate size. In our sample of 46 specimens, only three have a total length of at least 600 mm.
Ratio TaL/TL: 0.215–0.273, with a weak sexual dimorphism.
24–27 maxillary teeth on each jaw, gradually enlarging, the last two abruptly and very strongly enlarged, without diastema.
DSR: (17)19(21) – 19 – 17 rows; scales strongly keeled with a narrow keel throughout the body; scales of 1st DSR smooth. In our sample of 46 specimens, three have only 17 scale rows around the neck whereas three others have 21 scale rows.
Position of the dorsal scale rows reduction from19to17DSR:VEN65–75(x=71.3,sd= 2.7).
Number of aligned, paired enlarged scales on the nape: 0 (2 in only one specimen with a shallow, barely visible nuchal groove).
VEN: 132–145 (plus 1 or, usually, 2 preventrals); SC: 59–78, paired, without sexual dimorphism; cloacal plate divided. Ratio VEN/SC 1.81–2.39 (x = 2.00, sd = 0.15).
Complement of upper head scales complete including 2 internasals, 2 prefrontals, 2 supraoculars, 1 frontal, and 2 parietals. Rostral wider than high, barely visible from above; nasals pentagonal, elongate, vertically divided above and below the nostril; internasals subtriangular, in broad contact with each other, longer than wide, moderately narrowing anteriorly and abruptly truncated; 2 prefrontals, distinctly broader than long, 1.1–1.2 times longer than internasals; frontal large, shield-like, longer than wide and 1.9–2.2 times longer than prefrontals; 1 supraocular on each side, subtriangular, 2.0–2.2 times longer than wide, narrower than internasals, about half as wide as frontal; parietals large and broad, 1.4–1.5 times longer than the frontal or suture between parietals 1.0–1.2 times longer than frontal; 1/1 loreal, pentagonal, barely longer than high, in broad contact with the nasal; 1/1 preocular in all examined specimens; 3/3 elongate postoculars in all examined specimens; usually 8/8 SL (7/7 in 1 specimen, 7/8 SL in two specimens, 8/9 in four and 9/9 in one of the 46 examined specimens), the first five as long as high or longer than high, 1st and 2nd SL in contact with the nasal, 2nd or 2nd–3rd SL in contact with the loreal, usually 3rd– 5th SL touching the orbit (rarely 3rd–4th, 4th–5th or 4th–6th SL), 6th and 7th SL distinctly the largest; 2 (very rarely only 1, in only 2 specimens) anterior temporals, much elongate, narrowing anteriorly, lower one largest, followed by 2 or 3 (rarely 1 or 4) posterior temporals, the most common total formula being 2+2 or 2+3 temporals; 9 or 10 (11 in only 2/92 occurrences) infralabials, first pair in contact with each other behind the mental scale, 1st–4th or, most usually, 1st–5th IL in contact with anterior chin shields, 5th, 6th and 7th IL largest; posterior chin shields narrower and longer than anterior ones.

(David & Vogel 2021). 
CommentVenomous. Can inflict serious coagulopathic envenoming but, unlike its congener R. tigrinus, has not caused any human fatalities (Weinstein 2017).

Type species: Tropidonotus subminiatus SCHLEGEL 1837 is the type species of the genus Rhabdophis FITZINGER 1843: 27.

Type specimens: Inger in Wallach et al. (2014: 624) designated RMNH 1067 as the lectotype of this species. Unfortunately, this designation partly contravenes the requirements of Art. 74.7 of the Code (ICZN, 1999). Although Art. 74.7.1 is fulfilled, requirements of Art. 74.7.2 are limited to the collection number and total length of the specimen, and Art. 74.7.3, which requires an express statement of the taxonomic purpose of the designation, is neglected. Therefore, David & Vogel 2021 consider the designation of this lectotype to not be valid and re-designate RMNH 1067 as the lectotype.

Subspecies: Rhabdophis subminiatus helleri (SCHMIDT 1925) has been elevated to full species status by Liu et al. 2021.

Synonymy: Mostly after David & Vogel 2021. Natrix subminiata siamensis MELL 1931 has been resurrected from the synonymy of Rhabdophis subminiatus by David & Vogel 2021.

Phylogenetics: Takeuchi et al. 2018 and Piao et al. 2020 presented phylogenies of 17-18 (of the currently 27) species of Rhabdophis. Takeuchi et al. moved several speces of Macropisthodon to Rhabdophis, based on molecular data.

Color picture in Bulian (1999). Very common in Thungtao (Suratthani) [and probably elsewhere] according to Bulian.

Diet: frogs and toads (Yoshida et al. 2020).

Distribution: Possibly in Bhutan (Lenz 2012). The latest record of this species from Sulawesi is from GÜNTHER 1873. DE LANG & VOGEL (2005) thus consider this species as doubtful for this island. Not listed for Borneo by Stuebing et al. 2014. For a map see David & Vogel 2021: 110 (Fig. 9).

Behavior: diurnal. 
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