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Zamenis lineatus (CAMERANO, 1891)

IUCN Red List - Zamenis lineatus - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Striped Aesculapian rat snake 
SynonymCallopeltis longissimus var. lineata CAMERANO 1891
Coluber romanus SUCKOW 1798
Elaphe longissima romana — CAPOCACCIA 1964
Elaphe lineata — LENK & WÜSTER 1999
Zamenis lineatus — UTIGER et al. 2002
Zamenis lineata — VENCHI & SINDACO 2006
Zamenis lineatus — LIVIGNI 2013: 289
Zamenis lineatus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 808 
DistributionS Italy (incl. Sicily, Ischia)

Type locality: Naples, Italy  
Reproductionoviparous;<br />Hybridization: Z. lineatus hybridizes with Z. longissimus (Salvi et al. 2017). 
TypesHolotype: MSNM 942 (Milano, formerly MZUT = MRSN 434), male 
DiagnosisDescription: Distinguished from Z. longissimus by having a red iris (like the Leopard Snake Z. situla) and by the 4 dark bands on the back and flanks that are generaIly better defined but thinner (narrower than the pale line that separates them). The small white speckles typical of longissimus are there, clear on the dark bands and nearly absent from the pale parts of the back and flanks. Some older individuals are nearly uniformly coloured, in which case they are paler than longissimus,with the white markings more or less persisting. Belly yellowish-white with grey mottling as from mid-body; underside of tail uniform grey.
The head patte rn is very distinct: a very narrow black bar between the eyes contrasts with the uniform pale grey or yellowish ground colour, and there is a well-marked black longitudinal line along the joint between the 2 parietal plates (in Z. longissimus this line is blurred and indistinct); the black marking on the temple is narrower and generally connected to the black marking at the back of the mandibles (usually separated in Z. longissimus). As the snake grows, the back markings become progressively more attached and eventually form longitudinal bars that become less distinct with age. Back scales are smooth and glossy, arranged in 23 rows at mid-body, 225-238 ventral plates (Geniez 2018: 170).

Ontogenetic change: Juveniles have a much more contrasting colouration than adults with dark reddish-brown marks on the back and flanks. These markings are smaller than those of juvenile Z. longissimus and are already aligned in 4 longitudinal series, separate from the ground colour, which is a paler grey than in the other species; the white speckles are poorly defined (very visible and numerous in juvenile Z. longissimus). See also description. 
CommentDistribution: Erroneously reported from Sardegna Island (Razzetti, pers. comm.). The type locality of Coluber romanus is "Surroundings of Rome", an area that is inhabited by E. longissima but not E. lineata, so the erliest (and only) available name is Elaphe lineata (Razzetti, pers. comm.). For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013.

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

Similar species: Zamenis longissimus. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “linea”, meaning stripe or line. 
  • Camerano, L. 1891. Monografia degli Ofidi italiani. Parte II. Colubridi. Mem. R. Accad. Sci. Torino, ser. II. - get paper here
  • Capula, Massimo; Luiselli, Luca; Valenti, Sophia; Ceccarelli, Arianna; Rugiero, Lorenzo; Aloise, Gaetano 2006. Are endemic snakes with a narrow distribution more specialist than their wide-ranging counterparts? Evidence from the prey composition and morphometric correlates of the diet in Zamenis lineatus, a rat snake endemic to southern Italy. Amphibia-Reptilia 27 (4): 531-537 - get paper here
  • Cimatti, E. 2003. Sacred snakes of the Mediterranean. Reptilia (GB) (26): 52-58 - get paper here
  • Corsetti, Luigi; Antonio Romano 2008. On the occurrence of the Italian Aesculapian snake, Zamenis lineatus (Camerano, 1891), in Latium (Central Italy). Acta Herpetologica 3 (2): 179-183
  • DI NICOLA, MATTEO RICCARDO 2019. A revised dichotomous key to the snakes of Italy (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes), according to recent systematic updates. Zootaxa 4686 (2): 294–296 - get paper here
  • ESPOSITO, C. & ROMANO, A. 2011. Extension of known range area of Zamenis lineatus (CAMERANO, 1891). New northern and western limits [Short Note]. Herpetozoa 23 (3/4): 86-87 - get paper here
  • Grano, Mauro; Raffaella Scotti & Giovanni Paolino 2020. First record of Zamenis lineatus (Camerano, 1891) (Serpentes Colubridae) in Ischia Island (Italy). Biodiversity 11: 41–43 - get paper here
  • Gruber, U. 2009. Die Schlangen Europas, 2. Aufl. Kosmos Naturführer, 266 pp.
  • Harrington, Sean M; Jordyn M de Haan, Lindsey Shapiro, Sara Ruane 2018. Habits and characteristics of arboreal snakes worldwide: arboreality constrains body size but does not affect lineage diversification. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 125 (1): 61–71 - get paper here
  • Joger, U.; Fritz, U.; Guicking, D.; Kalyabina-Hauf, S.; Nagy, Z.T. & Wink, M. 2007. Phylogeography of western Palaearctic reptiles – Spatial and temporal speciation patterns. Zoologischer Anzeiger 246: 293–313 - get paper here
  • Kwet, A. 2010. Reptilien und Amphibien Europas. Kosmos-Verlag, Stuttgart, 252 pp.
  • Kwet, Axel & Benny Trapp 2014. Liste der Reptilien Europas. Draco 15 (60): 72-79 - get paper here
  • Lenk P. & Joger U. 1994. Genetic relationships between populations and intraspecific subdivision of Elaphe longissima (Laurenti, 1768) as suggested by plasma protein electrophoresis and DNA fingerprint. Amphibia-Reptilia 15: 363-373. - get paper here
  • Lenk, P.; Joger, U. & Wink, M. 2001. Phylogenetic relationships among European ratsnakes of the genus Elaphe Fitzinger based on mitochondrial DNA sequence comparisons. Amphibia-Reptilia 22 (3): 329-339 - get paper here
  • Lenk, Peter and Wüster, Wolfgang 1999. A Multivariate Approach to the Systematics of Italian Rat Snakes of the Elaphe longissima Complex (Reptilia, Colubridae): Revalidation of Camerano’s Callopeltis longissimus var. lineata. The Herpetological Journal 9 (4): 153-162 - get paper here
  • LiVigni, F. (ed.) 2013. A Life for Reptiles and Amphibians, Volume 1. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 495 pp. - get paper here
  • RUSSO, GIORGIO; ENRICO GIARRUSSO, PIETRO LEANZA, ENRICO MIRONE & BRUNO MORELLO 2020. An anomalous phenotype of the Italian Aesculapian snake Zamenis lineatus from Mt. Etna, Sicily. Herpetological Bulletin 154: - get paper here
  • Salvi D, Mendes J, Carranza S, Harris DJ. 2018. Evolution, biogeography and systematics of the western Palaearctic Zamenis ratsnakes. Zool Scr. 47 (4): 441-461 - get paper here
  • Salvi, Daniele; Daniela Lucente, Joana Mendes, Cristiano Liuzzi, D. James Harris and Marco A. Bologna 2017. Diversity and distribution of the Italian Aesculapian snake Zamenis lineatus: A phylogeographic assessment with implications for conservation. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 55 (3): 222–237; DOI: 10.1111/jzs.12167 - get paper here
  • Sindaco, R.; Alberto Venchi & Cristina Grieco 2013. The Reptiles of the Western Palearctic, Volume 2: Annotated Checklist and Distributional Atlas of the Snakes of Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, with an Update to Volume 1. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 543 pp. - get paper here
  • Utiger, Urs, Notker Helfenberger, Beat Schätti, Catherine Schmidt, Markus Ruf and Vincent Ziswiler 2002. Molecular systematics and phylogeny of Old World and New World ratsnakes, Elaphe Auct., and related genera (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae). Russ. J. Herpetol. 9 (2): 105-124. - 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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