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Thelotornis capensis SMITH, 1849

IUCN Red List - Thelotornis capensis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesThelotornis capensis capensis (SMITH 1849)
Thelotornis capensis oatesi (GÜNTHER 1881) 
Common NamesE: Southern Twig Snake, Savanna Vine Snake, Twig Snake, Vine Snake
oatesi: Oates' Vine Snake 
SynonymThelotornis capensis capensis SMITH 1849
Thelotornis Capensis SMITH 1849
Thelotornis kirtlandi capensis SMITH 1849: 19
Thelotornis kirtlandii capensis — LOVERIDGE 1957
Thelotornis capensis capensis — BROADLEY 1959
Thelotornis capensis schilsi DERLEYN 1978
Thelotornis capensis capensis — BOYCOTT 1992
Thelotornis capensis capensis — AUERBACH 1987: 188
Thelotornis capensis — BROADLEY et al. 2003: 226
Thelotornis capensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 728
Thelotornis capensis capensis — BATES et al. 2014: 423

Thelotornis capensis oatesi (GÜNTHER 1881)
Dryiophis oatesi GÜNTHER 1881: 330
Thelotornis kirtlandii oatesi — BROADLEY 1959
Thelotornis kirtlandii oatesi — BROADLEY 1962
Thelotornis capensis oatesi — AUERBACH 1987: 189
Thelotornis capensis oatesi — BROADLEY 1991: 533
Thelotornis capensis oatesi — BAUER et al. 1993
Thelotornis oatesi — HAAGNER et al. 2000
Thelotornis capensis oatesi — BROADLEY 2001
Thelotornis capensis oatseii — CONRADIE et al. 2016 (in error)
Thelotornis capensis oatesi — SCHLEICHER 2015: 197
Thelotornis capensis oatesi — MARQUES et al. 2018
Thelotornis capensis oatesi — CONRADIE et al. 2021 
DistributionNamibia, Botswana, NE Republic of South Africa (Eastern Cape), Swaziland, S Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, SE Angola, S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire)

oatesi: Angola, Namibia, Zaire, N Botswana, N Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Katanga); Type locality: “Matabeland, Rhodesia”

Type locality: “Kaffirland and the country toward Port Natal”  
TypesHolotype: unlocated (not in RSM or BMNH fide FitzSimons, 1937: 274).
Holotype: RMCA (= MRAC) (Musée de Tervuren) [schilsi]
Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.9.76 [oatesi] 
DiagnosisDescription (capensis): Rostral and nasals barely visible from above; loreals usually 2 (rarely 1, very rarely 0 or 3); preocular 1; postoculars 3 (rarely 2 or 4); temporals 1 + 2 (very rarely 1 + 1 or 1 + 3); supralabials 8 (very rarely 7 or 9), the fourth and fifth (very rarely third and fourth, fifth and sixth or third, fourth and fifth) entering orbit; infralabials 9-13, mode 11, the first 4 or 5 (very rarely 3 or 6) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales usually in 19-19- 13 rows, rarely in 17 rows at midbody (15 rows only in TMP 45554); ventrals 144-160 in males, 148-162 in females; anal divided; subcaudals 133- 155 in males, 127-147 in females.

Description (oatesii): Rostral and nasals barely visible from above; loreals usually 2 (rarely 1, very rarely 0); preocular 1; postoculars 3 (rarely 2, very rarely 1 or 4); temporals 1 + 2 (very rarely 1 + 3 or 1 + 1); supralabials 8 (rarely 7, very rarely 9), the fourth and fifth (very rarely third and fourth, fifth and sixth, third, fourth and fifth, or third, or fourth only) entering orbit; infralabials 9-13, mode 11, the first 4 or 5 (rarely 3) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales usually in 19-19-11 or 19-19-13 rows, very rarely 17 rows at midbody; ventrals 150-177 in males, 153-177 in females; anal divided; subcaudals 132-173 in males, 126-168 in females. 

Synonymy: Thelotornis capensis schilsi DERLEYN 1978 has not been recognized by subsequent authors. Broadley 2001 states that it “is known from only a few specimens and differs from T. c. mossambicanus only in its shorter tail and consequently lower subcaudal counts.” However, he doesn’t formally synonymize it, nor do Broadley & Wallach 2002.

Hybridization: mossambicanus is intergrading wit oatesi and capensis in E Zimbabwe and S Mozambique (Broadley 1979; BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991).
Derleyn (1978) had described T. c. schilsi from the Ruzizi plain in Burundi, but this form is known from only a few specimens and differs from T. c. mossambicanus only in its shorter tail and consequently lower subcaudal counts.

Distribution: not in East Africa (i.e. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi fide S. Spawls, pers. comm., 28 June 2018). However, oatesii is, see map in Broadley 2001: 59 (Fig. 2).

Type species: Thelotornis capensis SMITH 1849 is the type species of the genus Thelotornis SMITH 1849.

Habitat: fully arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
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