Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Brachyorrhos wallacei


Brachyorrhos wallacei Murphy, Mumpuni, de Lang, Gower, and Sanders, 2012a: 510. Holotype: BJE0 1059. Type locality: Jailolo, Halmahera, Indonesia.

Brachyorrhos albus – Boulenger, 1893, 1: 305.

Distribution: Halmahera, Indonesia (Murphy et al. 2012a).

Diagnosis: A fangless homalopsid. Usually lacks preocular, usually seven (rarely six) upper labials, tallest is sixth (rarely fifth). This snake is quite similar to B. raffrayi which has upper labial three in the orbit and the third is the tallest. Specimens of wallacei usually have the fourth upper labial (rarely 3+4) in the orbit, and the fifth is the tallest. Mitochondrial DNA data show that B. raffrayi and B. wallacei are separated by a deep molecular divergence despite their morphological similarity (Murphy et al., 2012a).

Probably terrestrial-fossorial. Diet unknown.


Raclitia indica Gray 1842

Raclitia indica Gray 1842 Zoological Miscellany, p. 67. Type locality: Malay Peninsula. Syntypes: BMNH 1946.1.2.36, 1946.1.2.46.

Hypsirhina indica - Boulenger, 1896 Catalogue of Snakes in the British Museum.3:4.

Enhydris indica - Tweedie, 1957 Snakes of Malaya, p. 89.

Diagnosis: A snake with seven upper labials, one postocular, and 19 scale rows on the neck and mid-body, which are reduced to 17 rows in front of the vent. The 19 rows of dorsal scales at mid-body will separate it from most other homalopsids with the exceptions of Hypsiscopus plumbea and Miralia alternans. However, plumbea has a single internasal that does not make contact with the loreal and a dorsal pattern that is uniform in coloration, while M. indica has a divided internasal scale that does contact the loreal on each side, and it has a pattern of irregular transverse bands. M. alternans has two postoculars, less than 143 ventral scales, and eight upper labials, while E. indica has 173 - 175 ventral scales.

Etymology: The name indica is probably derived from the Latin Indicus, meaning of India, and probably refers to the “East Indies” or Southeast Asia in a general sense.

Distribution: This poorly known species occurs at Selangor, Malaysia, and possibly Singapore. Literature comments on distribution: Flower (1896) "Malay Peninsula?" Gyi (1970) reported it from the Malay Peninsula. Smith (1930) reported it from near Taiping (Malay Peninsula) based upon a Selangor Museum specimen and from Singapore based upon a Dublin Museum specimen. The Singapore locality is highly problematic. Lim (1975) reported a specimen collected in a jungle stream at Klag in Selangor.

Size: Lim Boo Lait and Kamarudin (1975) reported a specimen with a length of 47 cm. The only specimen measured was a male that had a total length of 345 mm, and a tail length of 42 mm. The tail in the single male was 12% of the SVL.

External Morphology: The body is elongate and the head is slightly depressed. The eyes are dorsolateral and relatively small, having a diameter about equal to the anterior margin of the supraocular.
            On the head the rostral is pentagonal and about twice as broad as tall. The bottom margin shows almost no notching. The rostral is not visible from above. The nasal scales are in contact, both have a nasal cleft that goes to the first labial. The internasal scale is divided and does not penetrate the nasals. The internasals are small, about half the size of the nasals and half the size of the prefrontal scales. The prefrontals are large and are in broad contact with the loreal and are about as long as the supraocular. The frontal is relatively short, less than the interorbital distance, and shorter than the parietals. The parietals are relatively large, about 1.25 times the length of the frontal. The loreal is triangular with the anterior margin much wider than the posterior margin. It is in contact with the second and third upper labials, on the right side. The supraocular is single and much broader posteriorly. It has a tab which extends off the posterior end and forms what could be considered an upper postocular scale. The single preocular is small and taller than long; the postocular is singular and broad; there are no subocular scales. There are seven upper labials, the fourth enters the orbit, and the seventh is the largest. The primary temporal is elongated, as long as the last two upper labials. There are two secondary temporal scales.
            On the chin the lower labials number eight or nine, the fifth is the largest. The first four are in contact with the first pair of chin shields. The anterior chin shields are longer than the second pair. The second pair is separated by a pair of smaller scales and barely distinguishable from the gulars. There are four gular scales.
            On the body the smooth dorsal scales on the neck and mid-body are in 19 rows, these rows are reduced to 17 in front of the vent. The first row is ovate and they become more elongate toward the midline. The ventral scales are about 3 times the length of a nearby dorsal scale. Ventral scales number 173 - 175 in females and 165 - 175 in males (Gyi, 1970). The anal plate is divided. In the single male specimen examined there are four scales lateral and posterior to the anal plate; on the middle two scales on the right and the bottom two scales on the left are swollen tubercles, difficult to see and more obvious on some scales than others.
            On the tail the dorsal scales on the tail are ovate and smooth. The subcaudal scales are divided and number 28 in a female and 34 in the male specimen. At the base of the tail the width is 78% of the height in one specimen.             
            Color and Pattern. The crown of the head is more or less uniform brown with indistinct light spots on the prefrontals, loreals, and upper labials. There is an incomplete crossbar across the back of the head. The chin scales are brown and spotted and a cream cross bar starts at the angle of the jaw and transverses the gular area. There are 61 light cream bars that transverse the ventral surface and extend onto the third dorsal scale row. The dorsal scales are brown with cream spots scattered in areas to form indistinct and incomplete crossbars particularly on the anterior body. The tail has a similar pattern with a central dark area on the ventral surface.

Natural History
            The overall body form of this snake (small narrow head, thin body, short tail, and a relatively low dorsal scale count) suggests a burrowing existence, thus like some other homalopsids this species may be an aquatic burrower. Lim and Kamarudin (1975) collected a specimen in a jungle stream at Klang in Selangor. Tweedie (1983) reported five known specimens; I have seen only the syntypes. Diet and reproduction data are unknown.




Cerberus schneiderii Schlegel, 1837


Elaps boaeformis Schneider, 1801, 2: 301.
Homalopsis molurus: Boie, 1826: 213.
Python boaeformis: Merrem, 1820: 89.
Homalopsis schneiderii Schlegel, 1837: 341.
Homalopsis rhinchops: Cantor, 1847: 91.
Cerberus acutus Gray, 1849: 65.  Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.2.34. Type Locality: Borneo.
Cerberus unicolor Gray, 1849: 65. Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.2.45. Type Locality: Philippines.
Cerberus rynchops: Bleeker, 1857a: 233.
Cerberus boaeformis: Bleeker, 1857b: 238.
Hurria rynchops: Stejneger, 1907: 302.
Cerberus schneiderii: Murphy, Voris and Karns, 2012b: 17. Lectotype: RMNH 1173. Type Locality: Timor.

Distribution: Andaman sea coast of Thailand eastward to the Philippines and southward throughout Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia to Halmahera and Seram (Murphy et al., 2012b).

Diagnosis: Dorsal scale rows in 23 (rarely 25) scale rows at mid-body; the imbricate plate-like scales on crown have flat, thin appearance, lack keels anterior to angle of jaw; last upper labial horizontally divided; venter mottled.

Cerberus schneideri, Gulf of Thailand. JCM




Cerberus rynchops Schneider, 1799


Hydrus rynchops Schneider, 1799, 1: 246. Holotype: Based on illustration in Russell's Indian Serpents, 23, pl. 17, 1796. Type Locality: Ganjam, India.
Enhydris rynchops: Sonnini & Latreille, 1801 4: 202.
?Boa moluroidesSchneider, 1801, 1:279.
Hydrus cinereus Shaw, 1802, 3: 567.  Holotype: Based on Russell's Indian Serpents (1796) illustration 1: 23, pl. 17, and BMNH 1966.1.21.55–57. Type Locality: Ganjam, India.
Coluber cerberus Daudin, 1803c, 7: 167.  Holotype: Based on the illustration in Russell's Indian Serpents, 1: 23, pl. 17, 1796.  Type locality: Ganjam India.
Coluber schneiderianus: Daudin, 1803c 7: 170.
Python molurus: Merrem, 1820: 89.
Python rynchops: Merrem, 1820: 90.
Homalopsis cerberus: Fitzinger, 1826: 55.
Cerberus cerberus: Cuvier, 1829, 2: 81.
Cerberus grantii Cantor, 1836:135, [fide Smith, 1943:393].
Cerberus cinereus: Cantor, 1839: 54.
Homalopsis rhynchops: Cantor, 1847: 941.
Cerberus rynchops: Günther, 1864: 279.
Cerberus rynchops] rynchops: Loveridge, 1948: 388.

Photo credit. Aaron Lobo


Distribution: West coast of India to Myanmar and Thailand in vicinity of Phuket Island (Murphy et al., 2012b). The western limits of its distribution were recently discussed by Vyas et al., 2013).


Diagnosis: Dorsal scale rows 25 (rarely 23) at mid-body, imbricate plate-like scales on the crown have flat, thin appearance, keeled anterior to angle of jaw; the last two upper labial are horizontally divided; venter mottled.

Cerberus microlepis Boulenger, 1896

     Cerberus cinereus Gray, 1849 (in part), Catalogue of the Specimens of Snakes in the Collection of the British Museum, p. 64.

Cerberus microlepis Boulenger, 1896 Catalogue of Snakes in the British Museum, 3:18. Type locality: "Philippines." Collector: H. Cumming. Syntypes: BMNH 1946.1.7.24-25. Types of Cerberus cinereus Gray (in part).   Taylor (1922) stated that the exact localities of the syntypes are no longer known. He also stated that Griffin reported a specimen from Camiguin, Babuyan Islands. Taylor looked at the specimen, a head only, which had the first three lower labials touching the chin shields; this information is not diagnostic for the taxon. Based upon recently collected material it seems reasonable to restrict the type locality to Luzon Island, and to the vicinity of Lake Buhi.

 Hurria microlepis - Taylor, 1922 The Snakes of the Philippine Islands, Manila, p. 114.

Etymology: The name microlepis is derived from the Greek mikros meaning “small” and from the Greek lepisma meaning “scale.” Thus this name refers to small scales, possibly to the fragmented frontal scale which is usually composed of small scales.

Distribution: Cerberus microlepis is known only from Luzon Island, Philippines. It may be restricted to the Lake Buhi area. Lake Buhi, a freshwater lake, was apparently formed in 1641 when an earthquake caused part of Mt. Iriga to collapse and form a dam (Karns et al., 2000). C. microlepis inhabits the Sunda Shelf and Philippine Bioregion of Wikramanayake et al. (2002).

Diagnosis: The larger number of dorsal scale rows at midbody will distinguish this species from the other members of the genus. C. microlepis has 27 - 29 rows at midbody while other species in the genus have 21 - 25 rows at midbody. This species also tends to have very numerous, large, well define tubercles on most of its scales, and a higher ventral count (159 - 172) than other Cerberus species.

Size: The largest individual measured for this work was a female with a total length of 1046 mm, and a 161 mm tail. The largest male measured had a total length of 768 mm with a 158 mm tail. Eight males had tails that were 23 - 27% of the SVL, and eight females had tails that were 18 -22% of the SVL.

External Morphology: The head is only slightly wider than the neck. The overall body shape is cylindrical in cross section and relatively elongated. The eyes are small, dorsal, and round. The lower jaw is not countersunk.
            On the head the rostral scale is about as broad as high and visible from above . The nasals are divided by the nasal cleft that touches the first labials and the internasals. The nasals contact each other and are slightly penetrated by the internasal scales. The internasal is divided and each is smaller than the prefrontal scales. The prefrontal scales contact the loreal, the upper preocular, and the supraocular. The frontal is fragmented into at least three scales and the largest portion is shorter in length than the supraocular in the 16 specimens examined . The parietals are fragmented, usually into numerous smaller scales, but on occasion into just a few larger scales. The loreal is usually single but may be divided, and it is in contact with the first four upper labials (rarely three). Each supraocular is in contact with part of the fragmented frontal. The preocular may be single or divided into two scales. Subocular scales usually number two on each side. There are often two postoculars on each side. There is one primary temporal, excluding the larger fragmented portions of the parietals. Upper labials number 9 - 10, the seventh is usually the largest, number 5 or 5 - 6 are under the orbit but do not enter the orbit because of the subocular scales. The last large upper labial is horizontally divided. All of the head shields are covered with numerous, large tubercles.
            On the chin lower labials number 13 - 15, the first and the seventh are the largest. The first three contact the first pair of chin shields. There are three pairs of enlarged chin shields; the most anterior pair is the longest. There are 7 - 8 gular scales between the chin shields and the first ventral scales that are divided.
            On the body scales on the anterior tend to be ovate in the first few rows and become more elongated near the midline. They are keeled, striated, tuberculate, and imbricate.  Scale rows on the neck usually number 29, although one specimen (USNM 197697) has 32, and a few specimens have 28. The dorsal scales decrease in height from row one to the midline. Scales in the middle of the body are similar to the ones on the anterior; they are keeled, striated and tuberculate. They are usually in 29 rows, although two specimens (of 16) have 31 at midbody and two have 28. In front of the vent dorsal scale rows are usually reduced to 21, but may number 23 - 25. The ventral scales on the anterior of the body are tuberculate and have rounded edges. Each has a black spot located on the anterior portion of the scale. The middle ventral scales are wider, but are still tuberculate and spotted. The ventral scales number 159 - 172. Eight males have 160 - 172 ventral scales; eight females have 159 - 166 ventral scales. The anal plate is divided and tuberculate.
            On the tail scales on the dorsum are similar to the other dorsal scales, but slightly more ovate. The subcaudal scales are divided and number 54 - 70. Eight males have 60 - 70 subcaudal scales, eight females have 54 - 61 subcaudal scales, and thus the subcaudal scale counts are most likely sexually dimorphic.
            Color and Pattern. The upper labials are dark brown with some light spots along the seams. The lower labials are yellow with dark areas on the mental and some dark spots on the lower labials. The chin, gulars, and anterior ventral scales are yellow. There is a dark spot at the corner of the mouth. There are five indistinct stripes on the neck followed by about 40 indistinct dark crossbars; each crossbar is 1 - 2 scales wide. The first two scale rows are yellow-brown forming a ventrolateral stripe. The dorsum is otherwise brown. The ventral side has a dark stripe formed by a dark brown blotch in the center of each ventral scale. The underside of the tail is dark with scattered light spots. The dorsum of the tail is uniform brown with indistinct dark crossbars. 

Natural History: Collectors’ notes accompanying specimens report this species in the shallow water of fish ponds at 1940 - 0100 hours.

Relationships: Karns et al. (2000) used sequences of mtDNA genes 12s, 16s, and cytand suggested that this species is derived from other Cerberus populations in the Philippines. In a follow-up study Alfaro et al. (2004) found that the Polillo population was supported as the sister group to C. microlepis and the Silliman population. Polillo is a large island about 20 km off the eastern coast of Luzon and the two islands have been connected during times of lower sea levels.

Cerberus dunsoni Murphy, Voris and Karns, 2012


Cerberus rynchops: Gyi, 1970: 159.
Cerberus dunsoni Murphy, Voris and Karns, 2012b: 11. Holotype: AMNH 116021. Type Locality: Arakabesang (formerly Ngerekebesang) Island.

Distribution: Palau Islands, Micronesia (Murphy et al., 2012b).

Diagnosis:  Dorsal scales in 23 rows at mid-body, upper labials 1–4 contact loreal; plate-like scales on crown rounded, juxtaposed, appear thickened compared to scales of other Cerberus species, ninth upper labial horizontally divided, ventral surface uniform black.



Cerberus australis Gray, 1842

Homalopsis australis Gray, 1842: 59–68. Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.2.40. Type locality: Port Essington, Northern Territory, Australia.

Cerberus australis: Gray, 1849a: 65.

Cerberus rynchops novaeguineae Loveridge,1948: 388. Holotype: MCZ 22818. Type locality: Merauke, Dutch New Guinea.

Cerberus rynchops australis: Loveridge, 1948: 389.

Cerberus rynchops [in part]: Cogger et al.,1983: 210.

Distribution: Northern coastal Australia and thesouth coast of New Guinea. A single specimen is known from Waingapu, Sumba Island, Indonesia. It is unclear if this is a waif or represents an established population (Murphy et al., 2012b).

Diagnosis: Dorsal scales in 23 rows at mid-body, upper labials 2–4 contact loreal, scales on the crown imbricate; those anterior to the angle of jaw lack keels; first labial does not contact loreal; last upper labial horizontally divided; venter is mottled.

Size: The largest specimen Shine (1991a) reported was a female with a 75.6 cm SVL, and he reported a male with a 54 cm SVL (tail lengths not available). The largest specimen measured for this study was a female with a total length a 737 mm with a 106 mm tail. The largest male examined had a total length of 665 mm and a 117 mm tail. The smallest individual examined had a total length of 382 and a 53 mm tail. Eleven males had tails that were 21 - 26.7% of the SVL. Eight females had tails that were 19 - 22.6% of the SVL.

Head scalation of Cerberus australis.
External Morphology: The head is distinct from the neck, elongated and slightly depressed. The eyes are dorsolateral, round, and raised above the surface of the head. This may be due in part to the high subocular scale. This characteristic is also useful in distinguishing this species from Crynchops. The body is slightly compressed, the tail is more compressed. The lower jaw is not countersunk; the snout only slightly protrudes over the lower jaw.
            On the head the rostral scale is visible from above, about 1.2 times broader than high, and pentagonal. The nasal scales are in contact, they are as large as or larger than the rostral in diameter. The nasal scales may be divided or semi-divided with the nasal cleft touching the second labial, the internasal, and or the loreal. The internasal scale is divided, and slightly penetrates the nasals from behind. They are small, about one third the size of a nasal scale in area. The internasal scales are either not in contact with the loreal scales, or in very narrow contact. In 14 specimens seven (50%) had very narrow contact. And seven (50%) had no contact with the loreal scales. The prefrontal scales contact the loreal scale. The frontal scale is relatively small; its length is about equal to the greatest length of the prefrontal scales. The parietal scales are fragmented and barely distinguishable from the surrounding scales. There are two, relatively small, primary temporal scales. The loreal may be in contact with upper labials 2 - 3 or 2 - 4. This characteristic was suggested by Gyi as one that would separate this species from rynchops, which usually has 1 - 3 touching the loreal. On 14 specimens (28 sides) of australis 18 sides had labials 2 - 3 touching the loreal and 10 sides had labials 2 - 4 touching the loreal.  In 21 (42 sides) specimens of rynchops only six (14%) sides had labials 2 - 3 or 2 - 4 contacting the loreal. The ocular ring is composed of one supraocular, one preocular, and two postocular scales. There is one subocular, thus the labials do not enter the orbit, but in some specimens the postocular and subocular scales may be fused. Upper labials number 8 - 10 and the last two or three are divided; the sixth or fifth is the largest.
            On the chin the lower labials number 13 - 15, the fifth or the sixth is the largest. The first pair of chin shields is in contact with lower labials 1 - 2, 1 - 3, or 1 - 4. The second pair of chin shields is greatly reduced in size . Gular scales number 8 - 13.
            On the body the anterior dorsal scale rows are ovate in the first row, and become more lanceolate toward the midline. Scale shape is also useful in distinguishing this species from C. rynchops which has more lanceolate scales. The scales in the first 1 - 3 rows are smooth and slightly striated; the scales in the fourth row to the midline are keeled and striated. The dorsal scale rows number 23 - 25 on the neck. The dorsal scales at midbody number 21 - 25 (usually 23, the type specimen has 25 scale rows at midbody) are striated in the first two rows, the third row to midline are striated and keeled. The first two rows are ovate and the other rows become more lanceolate toward the midline. The dorsal scales at posterior body are more ovate than the anterior scales, and become lanceolate toward the midline; all rows are keeled and striated, and these rows number 19 - 21. The ventral scale count was 146 - 154 in males and 142 - 153 in females; the anterior ventral scales are about twice the length of a nearby dorsal; the ventral scales at midbody are about three times as wide as the height of a nearby dorsal scale; and the ventral scales at posterior body are about 2.5 times as wide as the height of a nearby dorsal. The anal plate is divided.      
            On the tail the dorsal scales are ovate, keeled and striated. The subcaudal scales are divided and number 49 - 63 in males and 42 - 51 in females.
            Color and pattern. In one adult female there are no obvious head markings. In a young female there is a canthal streak and a postocular streak as well as a stripe from the angle of the jaw onto the first few ventral scales (the adult female also has the latter). Gyi (1970) suggested the eye stripe is useful in distinguishing this species from rynchops; of 14 preserved specimens examined for this study the eye stripe was missing in eight (57%) of the specimens. The chin and gular region are spotted in both specimens, and both have a lateral nape stripe. The dorsum has 30 - 50 spots, crossbars, or a combination of each that are 1 - 2 scales wide. There are dark ventrolateral crossbars or blotches that extend onto the first two or three scale rows and number 28 - 32. The underside of the tail is a uniform brown. There are two color morphs, a gray morph and a red morph. Greer (1997) pointed out that color change with growth is unstudied in this snake, but that Shine (1991b) found small individuals from Darwin tended to be gray, and larger specimens tended to be gray-brown. The illustration of this snake from Boulenger (1896) shows a snake with a uniform dorsal coloration and a mottled venter.

Red and gray color morphs of
C. australis. Northern Territory,
Australia.
Habitat: Cerberus australis uses mud flats and mangrove forests, and streams that pass through these habitats. Literature descriptions of the habitat: Kinghorn (1929) wrote, “It [Caustralis] may be found in the sea, in estuaries, or in fresh-water streams, and is said to be fond of basking on mud-flats.” Heatwole (1977) reported one 3 km upstream from the Gulf of Carpentaria at the mouth of the Norman River. Gow (1989) wrote, “A nocturnal aquatic species which is normally found in estuaries and mangrove flats, sometimes in small colonies. At low tide it burrows into soft mud, leaving just the top of its head visible.”

Diet and Feeding Behavior: This species feeds on fish. Ten specimens with stomach contents were examined for this study; they contained only fish. Six (60%) of these contained two or more prey items, and in nine (90%) of these the prey was less than 10% of the snake’s mass. The other specimen contained prey that was 10.3% of the snake’s mass. Gow (1989) stated, “It preys principally upon mudskippers (family Periophthalmidae), but also feeds upon other small fishes and crustaceans.” Worrell (1963) wrote, “Frequents mangrove roots around estuaries and the shelving banks of tidal streams, where it feeds upon small crabs and fish.” The assertions that it feeds on crustaceans needs verification.

Reproduction:  Gow (1989) wrote, “A live-bearer, it may have up to 26 in a litter; newborns measure about 180 mm in length.” Shine (1991a) examined three litters that ranged from 6 - 8 young (= 7), and he reports that gravid females were collected in February and August.

Predators and Parasites: Lyle and Timms (1986) found one in the stomach of the nervous shark, Carcharhinus caustus, caught in Darwin Harbor, Northern Territory. This species undoubtedly falls prey to a variety of bird, reptile, fish and invertebrate predators with which it shares its environment, but documentation is needed.  Jones (1978, 1980) reported the nematode Camallanides cerberi(Spirurida: Camallanoidae) from the esophagus and stomach of this species.

Behavior: Kinghorn (1929) described movement that “…reminds one of the action of the American sidewinder.” Homalopsid snakes are capable of this locomotor behavior which is used when the snake finds itself on smooth surfaces, such as mud flats.

 Venom:  Gow (1989) reported a stinging sensation from the bite of a large specimen. Guinea et al. (1992) collected venom from the fang surface using capillary tubes; the yields were usually about 10 µl per snake, but one specimen produced about 200 µl. The venom increased the clotting times of free platelets by 12 - 40%; and at least four major proteins that were acidic were detected.




Calamophis katesandersae Murphy, 2012

Brachyorrhos jobiensis – Peters and Doria, 1878: 371.
Calamophis katesandersae Murphy, 2012: 518. Holotype: MSNG 56343–1. Type locality: Andia, West Papua.
Distribution: Known only from type locality, Andia, West Papua (Murphy 2012).
Diagnosis: A fangless homalopsid. Laterally compressed body (mid body width 75–79% of body’s height) exceptionally short tail (3.7–3.8% of SVL); frontal pentagonal but almost triangular; five or six upper labials; seven lower labials; low subcaudal count (eight or nine).

Probably aquatic-fossorial. Diet unknown.


Brachyorrhos raffrayi Sauvage, 1879


Atractocephalus raffrayi Sauvage, 1879: 62. Holotype:  MNHN 5174. Type locality: Ternate, Indonesia.

Brachyorrhos albusvar conjunctus Fischer, 1879 (1880): 879.
Brachyorrhos albus– Boulenger, 1893, 1: 305.
Brachyorrhos raffrayi– Murphy et al., 2012a: 501

Distribution: Ternate, Indonesia (Murphy et al. 2012a).

Diagnosis:  A fangless homalopsid. Six upper labials, the third, rarely 3+4, enter the orbit, tallest upper labial is third; very pointed snout. A preocular is present in about 35% of the specimens examined, making it possible to confuse this species with B. albus

Probably terrestrial-fossorial. Diet unknown.


Calamophis jobiensis Meyer, 1874



Calamophis jobiensis Meyer, 1874: 135. Holotype: MTKD 1026, destroyed in World War II. Type Locality: Ansus, Yapen, Indonesia.

Brachyorrhos jobiensis – Peters and Doria,1878: 371.

Brachyorrhos albus – Boulenger, 1893, 1: 305.

Distribution: Known only from type locality on Yapen Island, Indonesia.

Diagnosis: This diagnosis is based on a translation of the original description: 164 ventrals and 10 subcaudals. Upper labials six; third and fourth enter orbit, eight lower labials, one preocular, one postocular; pentagonal internasal contacts rostral with one side and penetrates between prefrontals; subcaudals divided.




Calamophis ruuddelangi Murphy, 2012

Calamophis ruuddelangi Murphy, 2012: 520. Holotype: MNHN 5175. Type locality: Ambuak, West Papua, Indonesia.
Brachyorrhos jobiensis – Peters and Doria, 1878: 371.

Distribution: Known only from the type locality and Kebar Valley, West Papua (BPBM 3850), Indonesia (Murphy 2012).

Diagnosis: A fangless homalopsid. Gracile cylindrical body, relatively short tail (12% of SVL); six upper labials, fifth tallest, three and four shorter, ventrals 143–145, subcaudals 21–23.
Probably aquatic-fossorial. Diet unknown.





Brachyorrhos gastrotaenia Bleeker, 1860


Rabdion gastrotaenia Bleeker, 1860: 286. Holotype: BMNH 63.12.4.25. Note that RMNH 3977 from "O-I Archipel" (= East Indies Archipelago) is described as a “co-type” for this species, but it has been skinned and scale count data is therefore not available. No mention of syntypes is made by Bleeker (1860). Type Locality: “Amboina” (= Ambon), in error. Distribution for this species is suspected to be the island of Buru (Murphy et al. 2012).
Oxyorrhos fusiformis Fischer, 1879 (1880): 89. Type locality:  “…von Buru (Boeroe) im indifchen Archipel.” Note: Schlüter and Hallermann (1997) suggested the syntypes (SMNS 1327–3) were lost in World War II.

Brachyorrhos albus – Boulenger, 1893, 1: 305.
           
Note. Murphy et al. (2012a) found Bleeker’s type most closely matches the specimens of Brachyorrhos from Buru and applied this name to that population, commenting that there were some discrepancies in the ventral and subcaudal counts. Thus, there may be two or more species of Brachyorrhos on Buru.

Distribution: Buru, Indonesia.

Diagnosis: A fangless homalopsid. Six upper labials, fourth (rarely 3+4) in orbit, fifth is tallest; mid-ventral stripe often present. This combination of characters separate this species from all other members of the genus.

Probably terrestrial-fossorial. Diet unknown.



Type specimens of Rabdion gastrotaenia KLS

Calamophis ruuddelangi Murphy, 2012

Calamophis ruuddelangi Murphy, 2012: 520. Holotype: MNHN 5175. Type locality: Ambuak, West Papua, Indonesia.
Brachyorrhos jobiensis – Peters and Doria, 1878: 371.

Distribution: Known only from the type locality and Kebar Valley, West Papua (BPBM 3850), Indonesia (Murphy 2012).

Diagnosis: A fangless homalopsid. Gracile cylindrical body, relatively short tail (12% of SVL); six upper labials, fifth tallest, three and four shorter, ventrals 143–145, subcaudals 21–23.
Probably aquatic-fossorial. Diet unknown.





Calamophis sharonbrooksae

Calamophis sharonbrooksae Murphy, 2012: 521. Holotype: MSNG 30193–1. Type locality: Mt. Arfak, West Papua, Indonesia.

Brachyorrhos jobiensis – Peters and Doria, 1878: 371.

Distribution: Known only from type locality.

Diagnosis: A fangless homalopsid. Robust cylindrical body, tail 9.0 to 9.6% of SVL; upper labials three, four and five about equal in height; rostral to frontal distance greater than parietal seam; dorsal scales uniform brown – no center spot of dark pigment; ventrals 149–150, subcaudals 17–19.

 Probably aquatic-fossorial. Diet unknown.

Bitia hydroides Gray, 1842


Bitia hydroides Gray, 1842: 64.  Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.2.38.  Type locality: Unknown.
Homalopsis hydrina Cantor, 1847: 104.  Holotype: possibly in the ZSI collection, Calcutta, India. Type locality: sea off Kedah Coast, peninsular Malaysia.
Hipistes fasciatus Gray, 1849a: 78. Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.2.50. Type locality: from East Indies.
Hipistes hydrinus – Günther, 1864: 287.

Distribution: Coastal waters of southern Myanmar, Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and Borneo. Possibly in the Greater Sundas (Murphy 2007).

Diagnosis: Scale rows at mid body 37–43; ventral scales keeled; parietal scales fragmented; single internasal; dorsal scales small, triangular, exposed skin between them; loreal in contact with first 3 or 4 upper labials; ocular ring scales large, plate-like; upper labials 3–4 or 4–5 below the orbit; tail short 8–11% of SVL.

Bitia hydroides. Photo credit: Bruce Jayne
Diagnosis.  Bitia is one of the most distinctive homalopsid snakes. At midbody, it has 37 - 43 rows of triangular scales with exposed skin between them; it has keeled ventral scales, and an exceptionally long and narrow anal plate. No other snake has this combination of character states. Overall the gestalt and banded color pattern suggests a true sea snake (Figure 15), but Bitia lacks the expanded paddle tail of true sea snakes. The only other homalopsid snakes with this number of dorsal scale rows are members of the genus Homalopsis, but it has strongly keeled, striated dorsal scales that overlap and has no exposed skin between them. Homalopsis has a tail that is more than 30% of the SVL, while B. hydroides has a tail that is 8 - 13% of the SVL.

Size. The largest specimen measured for this study was a female with a total length of 718 mm, and a 54 mm tail. The largest male measured had a total length of 641 mm, and a 55 mm tail.  Female SVL averaged 500 mm. Male SVL averaged 338 mm. The smallest specimen measured had a total length of 153 mm, and a 19 mm tail. In a series of 33 small specimens, presumably neonates, the SVL ranged from 134 - 172 mm (X¯ = 153.9 mm). Jayne et al. (1995) reported females were more massive than males of equal length, and their analysis suggested that a 40 cm SVL male would weigh 26 g while a 40 cm female would weigh 31.3 g.  A 15 cm neonate was predicted to weigh 2 grams. 

External Morphology. The body is cylindrical to slightly compressed; the tail is slightly flattened. Despite the fact that Gyi (1970) and Smith (1943) have stated that the head is not wider than the neck, Jayne et al. (1995) found this true only for smaller specimens and demonstrated that larger specimens do have the head distinctly enlarged from the neck. The eyes are round and set dorsally on top of the head. They are also relatively small; having an orbital diameter that is about one third of the length of the supraocular scale. The lower jaw is countersunk. On the head the rostral scale is about as broad as it is tall; it is almost round (most homalopsids have a pentagonal rostral); and it has two notches on the ventral edge. The mental scale opposite the rostral scale’s ventral edge has a small pad of tissue with folds that fit the rostral's groove. This is probably an adaptation for complete mouth closure and may allow the tongue tips to be protruded slightly without opening the mouth. The nasal scales are separated by an internasal. Each nasal is divided unequally by the nare with the posterior portion being much smaller than the anterior; the nasal cleft touches the loreal and the internasal. The single internasal is about three times longer than it is broad and penetrates between the prefrontal scales but does not completely separate them. The prefrontal scales are in contact. The frontal is elongated; in some specimens, it is semi-divided, and in outline may take on a distinctive hour-glass shape. The parietal scales are fragmented into several plates or smaller scales, see Figure 15. The loreal is single and is in contact with the first three or four labials.  The scales of the ocular ring are exceptionally large and plate like, there is one supraocular, one preocular, one postocular, and one subocular. One specimen had a divided postocular; another had a divided subocular. The temporal scale formula was 1 + 2 + 3. However, because the parietals are fragmented distinguishing between the one primary temporal and an enlarged fragment of the parietal is difficult. The upper labials usually number seven, occasionally eight. Labials 3 - 4 or 4 - 5 can be below the orbit, but not entering the orbit because of the presence of the subocular. On the chin the lower labials, number 8 - 12. The first pair of chin shields contacts the first 4 - 6 labials. There are two pairs of chin shields; the first pair is larger than the second. The gulars number 5 - 7, usually six. Teeth. Jayne et al. (1995) found enlarged anterior palatine teeth to be a unique, derived character state in this genus. The fourth palatine tooth was 3.1 mm and exceeded the length of the posterior maxillary fang (2.1 mm). Also, the fourth and longest tooth in the lower jaw exceeds the length of the posterior maxillary fang [maxillary teeth = 13 - 14; palatine teeth = 7 - 8; pterygoid teeth = 19 - 23; dentary teeth = 18 - 23].
     On the body the dorsal scales on the neck are in 32 - 39 rows, they are smooth, lanceolate, and have gaps between the base of the scale and the apex of the preceding scale; dorsal scales at midbody are in 37 - 43 rows, and at posterior body are in 31 - 35 rows. The first dorsal rows are approximately the same size, but scales become enlarged toward the midline. The ventral scales are about twice the length of a dorsal scale, and they are keeled at the outer margins (Plate 1, Figure E). However, these keels most likely play a role in allowing the snake to laterally compress its body when swimming. Ventral scales number 151 - 161 (X¯ = 158) in males, and 157 - 164 (X¯ = 161) in females. On the tail the dorsal scales are more ovate than those on the body, and are also smooth. The subcaudal scales are divided, and number 33 - 40 in males, and 24 - 29 in females and thus the counts are sexually dimorphic. The anal plate is divided, narrow, and at least twice as long as a normal ventral. Males had tails that averaged 11.1% of the total length, while female tails averaged 8.0% of total length (Jayne et al., 1995). At the base of the tail, the width is 81% of the height.
     Color and pattern on the head are uniform gray. The body has 37 - 46 dark transverse blotches that are 2 - 3 scales wide. The ventral surface is  cream color. The tail’s dorsum has a pattern similar to the body; the tail’s ventral surface is uniform cream. 
    The morphological convergence of Bitia with other marine snakes has been commented upon by several other authors. Boettger (1898) considered Bitia involved in a mimicry complex with Acrochordus granulatus. Cantor (1847) wrote, “In general appearance and colours the present is more closely allied to the pelagic serpents than any other known species.” And, Gyi (1970) noted, “The small head; narrow anterior third of the body; narrow ventrals and subcaudals; and compressed tail resemble the characteristics of members of the family Hydrophidae.” 

Habitat
    Bitia is usually collected in the intertidal environment including mud flats, estuaries, and possibly mangroves. However, it is seldom encountered, and the microhabitat used for most of its life history is unknown. Jayne et al. (1995) collected this snake in the intertidal zone of the Muar estuary and found it to be the second most common snake; only one specimen was found in the channel of the Muar River. Released specimens were observed burrowing into the mud, and they note that the small eyes, smooth scales, and short tail are adaptations seen in terrestrial burrowing snakes. This species was also observed to use a sidewinding locomotion on mud surfaces, as do some other homalopsids that forage on mudflats. More specimens were found active at night than during the day. It should be pointed out that this species showed up at this location for a few nights and that it was not common before or after the few days of its abundance.  Theobald (1868) wrote, “This species has quite the coloration of a Hydrophis through probably an estuary rather than an open sea species.  It is, however, largely captured in company with great numbers of Hydrophis in the sluice nets (or creeks) in the Bassein River below Gnaputau.” This may be an aquatic-burrowing homalopsids, and it is possible that it can spend long periods of time submerged, obtaining oxygen through cutaneous respiration via the exposed skin between the scales. However, mangrove mud is often anoxic, and how this environment influences (if it does) snake behavior is unknown.
    
Diet and Feeding Behavior
    Boulenger (1890) wrote, “It lives almost entirely upon fishes.” And, Cantor (1847) commented, “In one examined the stomach contained remains of two small pelagic fishes.” The most detailed account of food habits was provided by Jayne et al. (1995); they examined 117 field captured individuals and found one prey item in each of six individuals. Three items could only be identified as the tail fin rays of fish. Two individuals contained the goby Oxuderces dentatus, and for one of these snakes (SVL = 16.5 cm, mass = 3.0 g), the prey had a total length of 6.6 cm and a mass of 0.4 g (13.3% of the predator’s mass). The other prey item found was the goby Trypauchen raha, which was the largest prey item consumed in terms of both absolute size (total length = 14 cm; mass = 9.1 g) and mass, it was 38% of the predator’s mass (snake SVL = 39 cm, mass = 26 g). Captive snakes were offered a variety of sympatric species of oxydercine gobies (Periopthalmus chrysospilos, Scartelaous pectinirostris, and Oxuderces dentatus), but they were unsuccessful in eliciting feeding behavior. The presence of Trypauchen raha in the diet suggests that Bitia may feed in deeper water than is usually available in the intertidal, mudflat habitat.
    There are no observations of this snake feeding, and Jayne et al. (1995) noted that the enlarged palatine teeth do not seem suited for capturing the prey they found in the specimens examined, and they wrote, “Whether or not Bitia catches and consumes prey common to other marine snakes by using specialized behaviors remains an open question.”

Reproduction
    Jayne et al. (1995) found the smallest gravid female had an SVL of 36.5 cm and mass of 26 g (excluding the embryos). Of 28 females captured with SVLs greater than 36.5 cm, 14 were gravid. Gravid females were captured between 20 November and 18 December, and this correlates with Smith’s (1943) report of two females obtained in Myanmar (northern edge of the range) in September containing three and four fully formed embryos. Litter size varied from 1 - 10 (X¯ = 4.2) and increased significantly with female SVL. Clutch mass averaged 14.5 g (r = 2.3-52 g) and increased significantly with SVL. The mean RCM was 0.22 (range = 0.08 - 0.35), the RCM was not significantly correlated with maternal SVL or mass. The mean RCM is low for a viviparous colubrid, and it is exceeded by nine of 11 North American species of natricines. The mean mass of embryos per litter ranged from 2.3 - 5.2 g (X¯ = 3.2 g), and this quantity was not significantly correlated with maternal size, litter size, or RCM. Three litters had an average SVL of 16.1 cm (r = 15.5 - 16.8) and the average mass was 2.5 g. Heatwole (1999) stated that Bitia matures early. And, at least some female Bitia reproduce in the first year of life despite the fact that they are very small at birth. Jayne et al. (1995) found parturition  to be highly seasonal and does not overlap with any of the other marine snakes studied in the Muar area. The smallest gravid female Jayne et al. (1995) report had an SVL of 365 mm, this investigation of additional museum material produced a 293 mm female (UMMZ 61291) containing three embryos and one infertile egg. Jayne et al. (1995) estimated the growth rate for neonates at 0.06 cm/day.




Karnsophis siantaris Murphy and Voris, 2013

Brachyorrhos albus Bleeker, 1857c: 472; 1860: 286.

Karnsophis siantaris Murphy and Voris, 2013: 142 Holotype: USNM 103578, adult male from Siantar, Sumatera Utara, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Distribution: Known from type locality, Siantar, Sumatera Utara, Sumatra. However, Bleeker (1860) reported Brachyorrhos albus from Agam (~0º15’S 100º 05’E) and Padang (~0º 57’S 100º 21’E) both central Sumatran locations which likely represent this species.

Diagnosis: Fangless, 19 scale rows not reduced posteriorly, premaxillary absent t nasal bones greatly reduced in size, neural spine is present on the atlas (absent in Brachyorrhos). Distinguished from Brachyorrhos by its depressed skull, rostral not visible from above; eye diameter greater than eye-mouth distance, counter sunk lower jaw, laterally compressed tail. Distinguished from Calamophis by 19 scale rows just anterior to the vent (Calamophis has 17); divided internasal (single in Calamophis); divided nasal scale (single in Calamophis); two postoculars (one in Calamophis).



Cantoria violacea Girard, 1858


Cantoria violacea Girard, 1858: 182. Holotype: USNM 5523.Type Locality: near Singapore.
Hydrodipsas elapiformis Peters, 1859: 270, fig 1.  Holotype: Berlin Museum. Type locality: Sarawak.
Hemiodonotus elapiformis – Jan, 1863: 79.
Cantoria elongata Günther, 1864: 277 [based upon Girard's specimen].
Cantoria elapiformis – Günther, 1868: 124.
Cantoria dayana Stoliczka, 1870: 208, pl. 11, fig 5. Type locality: near Amherst, mouth of Moulmein River, Burma. According to Das et al. (1998) this is Kyaikkami in southern Myanmar. Mawlamyine, southern Myanmar is listed as the type locality in the ZSI register and in Sclater (1891). Holotype: ZSI 8195 (lost according to Smith, 1943).

Distribution: Andaman Islands, Andaman coasts of Myanmar, Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, possibly Sumatra and Borneo (Murphy, 2007).
       
Diagnosis: Can be distinguished from all other homalopsids by the combination of 19 dorsal scales rows at mid body; nasals separated by internasal scale; prefrontals make broad contact; five upper labials; loreal contacts first 2–3 upper labials; subocular scale separates upper labials 3–4 from orbit; 7–8 lower labials; ventral count exceeds 234 (more ventrals than any other homalopsid).

Size: Wall (1924) reported a 1220 mm specimen and Ghodke and Andrews (2002) estimated some specimens in the field at 1.5 m, but the largest specimen they measured had a total length of 1110 mm.  For this study 16 specimens (12 males and four females) were measured. The largest specimen measured was a male with a total length of 1095 mm, and a 193 mm tail. The largest female had a total length of 1084 mm with a 127 mm tail. The smallest individual measured was a male with a total length of 429 mm and a 71 mm tail.  Males have a long, thin, stringy, gracile appearance while females of the same size are more robust. Males have longer tails (18 - 21% of the SVL, X¯ = 20%) than females (12 - 17% of the SVL, X¯ = 13.7%). The four females ranged from 620 - 957 mm SVL (X¯ = 821 mm), while the males ranged from 358 - 925 mm SVL (X¯ = 623 mm).

External Morphology:The body is slightly compressed and very elongated. The eyes are dorsolateral, and round. The head is relatively short, slightly depressed, and slightly distinct from the neck. Head scales are imbricate. Lower jaw is slightly countersunk. 

    On the head the rostral scale is about 1.2 times wider than broad and barely visible from above. Tubercles are present on the head scales of males. The nasal is entire or semi-divided with the cleft touching the internasal. The nasals are separated by a single internasal, thus they are not in contact. The single, pentagonal internasal is almost as large as a nasal scale. The prefrontal scales are almost as large as the nasals, each contains a white spot. The frontal is as broad as it is long and may contain one or two light spots. The loreal is single and in contact with the first two, or first three upper labials. Supraocular scales are single in all specimens and are quadrangular or hexagonal. The ocular ring scales consist of a preocular, postocular, and subocular; all are single scales in all specimens examined. There is one primary temporal scale that is greatly elongated;  and one secondary temporal scale is present, the temporal formula is 1+1. There are five upper labials, the largest is the fourth, and none enter the orbit because of the subocular scales. These also have small tubercles in male specimens. 
    On the chin lower labials number 7 - 8, with the fifth being the largest. The first three are in contact with the anterior pair of chin shields. These have small tubercles. There are two pairs of enlarged chin shields along the mental groove; the shields are about equal in size. The gular scales number three or four. 
    On the body the dorsal scale rows on the neck and midbody are in 19 rows, and they are reduced to 17 rows near the vent. They are ovate, but become more lanceolate toward the midline. The scales are smooth and lack ornamentation. Ventral scales on the anterior of the body are about 2.2 times the height of a nearby dorsal scale, and they increase in size posteriorly to about three times the height of a nearby dorsal scale. They have rounded edges and are smooth. Ventral scales number 251 - 275 (X¯ = 259) in 11 males and 271 - 284 (X¯ = 277) in four females, this small sample suggests the ventral counts are probably sexually dimorphic in this species. The anal plate is divided. 
    On the tail scales on the dorsum are ovate and smooth, and are in 17 rows.  The subcaudal scales are divided and they number 63 - 72 (X¯ = 66.8) in 11 males and 47 - 62 (X¯ = 54) in four females. Male tails ranged from 16.4 - 22.5% (X¯ = 20.0%) of the SVL; female tails ranged from 12.4 - 16.4% (X¯ = 13.7%) of the SVL. At the base of the tail the width is 85% of the height.
    Color and pattern. The snout has a yellow transverse bar or spots; there are lateral postocular yellow spots and a yellow transverse bar one scale behind the parietals. The upper labials are black with some yellow areas. The lower labials are mostly yellow. The body has 60 - 70 yellow bands (Ghodke and Andrews [2000] reported 57 - 66 yellow bands in Andaman specimens) that are one scale wide on the vertebral line, and widen to three scale rows laterally. The ventral scales may be almost uniform in color, or the dark dorsal pigment may intrude onto the ventral surface. The ventral surface of the tail may be banded or each subcaudal may contain a light spot. Juveniles may have bands that completely encircle the body and they have a more intense color (Ghodke and Andrews, 2000). 

Habitat:   Cantoria violacea uses mangrove forests and mud flats, but will apparently use nearby freshwater environments on occasion (Rao et al., 1994).  It seems to be associated with the intertidal burrow system which includes mud lobster mounds and crab burrows, and it is active at night. Smith (1943) described its habitat as "Tidal rivers and coasts..." Tweedie (1983) wrote, "This very long slender snake lives on coasts.” Two specimens from Phuket Island, Thailand, were collected in or near tidal creeks in mangrove forest on rising tides (Voris and Murphy, 2002). Frith and Boswell (1978) found a specimen on a mud flat with its head down a crab burrow. Ghodke and Andrews (2000) found it on mud flats in the Andaman Islands, with their posterior bodies in crab holes and they reported specimens in proximity to each other (0.5 - 6 m), in one case they described finding them in pairs. Karns et al. (2002) found violacea associated with mud lobster mounds and mud pools.
    Sworder (1923) considered this “A very rare snake.” in Singapore. This is undoubtedly due in part to its microhabitat, the intertidal burrow system, which is seldom explored by herpetologists, or other naturalists.  However, Karns et al. (2002) found this species only three times (1.1% of the 270 snakes collected) at Pasar Ris Mangrove Park in Singapore, while Ghodke and Andrews (2002) considered it “fairly common” in the North Andaman Islands.
    
Diet and Feeding Behavior: Contrary to literature comments (Mattison, 1995, and others) that this snake feeds on fish and crabs, Cantoria violacea appears to feed exclusively upon Alpheus shrimp (Crustacea: Decopoda: Alpheoidea). The stomach contents of FMNH 250115 consisted of one complete female giant mangrove snapping prawn, Alpheus microrhynchus (thorax length 20 mm, total length 57.5 mm, claw length 30.3 mm, weight 5.1 g); a second specimen, a male (FMNH 250118), contained one complete but digested claw of a Alpheus microrhynchus (claw length 25.7 mm) and one digested decapod (probably the remains of another A. microrhynchus). Two Myanmar specimens also contained Alpheus: CAS 211909 contained one ovigerous female Alpheus sp. and CAS 211919 had remains of three specimens of Alpheus euphrosyne euphrosyne (Voris and Murphy, 2002). Unfortunately there are no observations of feeding behavior in this species and its feeding adaptations may prove to be of interest.
    Alpheus shrimp (commonly known as snapping shrimp or pistil shrimp) have some unusual defense and communication behaviors and how these effect the feeding behavior of C. violacea is sure to be of interest. Alpheus produce a loud sound resulting from the collapse of a cavitation bubble in their enlarged pincer, and the collapsing bubble also produces a flash of light (Versluis et al., 2000; Lohse et al., 2001). Thus, Cviolacea may use the light, the sound, a chemical spread via a stream of water coming from the claw, or a combination of these to detect and locate its prey.



Venom: The venom chemistry of this species is completely unknown. However, Ghodke and Andrews (2000) reported stories from Karens living in the Andaman Islands who stated that they knew people who had been bitten by this snake, one had died, and another had been unconscious for several days. Bite symptoms included abdominal pain, vomiting blood and swelling at the site of the bite. A folk remedy made from a “cactus-like plant that grows in mangroves” was applied to the bite lesions and taken internally. They acknowledged that Cantoria is usually considered harmless and that it has a similar appearance to the Andaman krait (Bungarus andamanensis).

Brachyorrhos albus, Linnaeus 1758

Coluber albus Linnaeus 1758: 128. Holotype: NRM19. Type Locality: “Indiis” (Ambon, Indonesia).

Brachyorrhos albus – Kuhl in Schlegel, 1826: 236.

Calamaria brachyorrhos Müller, 1857: 39.

Distribution: Indonesian islands of Seram and its satellites (Ambon, Haruku, Nusa Laut, Saparua). Additionally, one specimen from Palau Bisa (MZB2609) is morphologically similar to this species, but needs molecular confirmation. Brachyorrhos albus has also been reported from the Banda Islands (Boettger, 1895) but specimens from this island group need to be examined to determine identity (Murphy et al. 2012a).

Diagnosis: A fangless homalopsid. Distinct preocular scale usually present; seven upper labials, fourth (rarely 3+4) in orbit, sixth is tallest; dorsal scales more lanceolate (elongated, taper posteriorly) than congeners; usually single temporal scale contacting postoculars in Ambon population; two primary temporals in some Seram individuals.

Probably terrestrial-fossorial. feeds on earthworms, viviparous.

Type specimen of Coluber albus


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Selangor Mud Snake, Raclitia indica Gray 1842

Raclitia indica Gray 1842 Zoological Miscellany, p. 67. Type locality: Malay Peninsula. Syntypes: BMNH 1946.1.2.36, 1946.1.2.46.

Hypsirhina indica - Boulenger, 1896 Catalogue of Snakes in the British Museum.3:4.

Enhydris indica - Tweedie, 1957 Snakes of Malaya, p. 89.

Diagnosis: A snake with seven upper labials, one postocular, and 19 scale rows on the neck and mid-body, which are reduced to 17 rows in front of the vent. The 19 rows of dorsal scales at mid-body will separate it from most other homalopsids with the exceptions of Hypsiscopus plumbea and Miralia alternans. However, plumbea has a single internasal that does not make contact with the loreal and a dorsal pattern that is uniform in coloration, while M. indica has a divided internasal scale that does contact the loreal on each side, and it has a pattern of irregular transverse bands. M. alternans has two postoculars, less than 143 ventral scales, and eight upper labials, while E. indica has 173 - 175 ventral scales.

Etymology: The name indica is probably derived from the Latin Indicus, meaning of India, and probably refers to the “East Indies” or Southeast Asia in a general sense.

Distribution: This poorly known species occurs at Selangor, Malaysia, and possibly Singapore. Literature comments on distribution: Flower (1896) "Malay Peninsula?" Gyi (1970) reported it from the Malay Peninsula. Smith (1930) reported it from near Taiping (Malay Peninsula) based upon a Selangor Museum specimen and from Singapore based upon a Dublin Museum specimen. The Singapore locality is highly problematic. Lim (1975) reported a specimen collected in a jungle stream at Klag in Selangor.

Size: Lim Boo Lait and Kamarudin (1975) reported a specimen with a length of 47 cm. The only specimen measured was a male that had a total length of 345 mm, and a tail length of 42 mm. The tail in the single male was 12% of the SVL.

External Morphology: The body is elongate and the head is slightly depressed. The eyes are dorsolateral and relatively small, having a diameter about equal to the anterior margin of the supraocular.
            On the head the rostral is pentagonal and about twice as broad as tall. The bottom margin shows almost no notching. The rostral is not visible from above. The nasal scales are in contact, both have a nasal cleft that goes to the first labial. The internasal scale is divided and does not penetrate the nasals. The internasals are small, about half the size of the nasals and half the size of the prefrontal scales. The prefrontals are large and are in broad contact with the loreal and are about as long as the supraocular. The frontal is relatively short, less than the interorbital distance, and shorter than the parietals. The parietals are relatively large, about 1.25 times the length of the frontal. The loreal is triangular with the anterior margin much wider than the posterior margin. It is in contact with the second and third upper labials, on the right side. The supraocular is single and much broader posteriorly. It has a tab which extends off the posterior end and forms what could be considered an upper postocular scale. The single preocular is small and taller than long; the postocular is singular and broad; there are no subocular scales. There are seven upper labials, the fourth enters the orbit, and the seventh is the largest. The primary temporal is elongated, as long as the last two upper labials. There are two secondary temporal scales.
            On the chin the lower labials number eight or nine, the fifth is the largest. The first four are in contact with the first pair of chin shields. The anterior chin shields are longer than the second pair. The second pair is separated by a pair of smaller scales and barely distinguishable from the gulars. There are four gular scales.
            On the body the smooth dorsal scales on the neck and mid-body are in 19 rows, these rows are reduced to 17 in front of the vent. The first row is ovate and they become more elongate toward the midline. The ventral scales are about 3 times the length of a nearby dorsal scale. Ventral scales number 173 - 175 in females and 165 - 175 in males (Gyi, 1970). The anal plate is divided. In the single male specimen examined there are four scales lateral and posterior to the anal plate; on the middle two scales on the right and the bottom two scales on the left are swollen tubercles, difficult to see and more obvious on some scales than others.
            On the tail the dorsal scales on the tail are ovate and smooth. The subcaudal scales are divided and number 28 in a female and 34 in the male specimen. At the base of the tail the width is 78% of the height in one specimen.             
            Color and Pattern. The crown of the head is more or less uniform brown with indistinct light spots on the prefrontals, loreals, and upper labials. There is an incomplete crossbar across the back of the head. The chin scales are brown and spotted and a cream cross bar starts at the angle of the jaw and transverses the gular area. There are 61 light cream bars that transverse the ventral surface and extend onto the third dorsal scale row. The dorsal scales are brown with cream spots scattered in areas to form indistinct and incomplete crossbars particularly on the anterior body. The tail has a similar pattern with a central dark area on the ventral surface.

Natural History
            The overall body form of this snake (small narrow head, thin body, short tail, and a relatively low dorsal scale count) suggests a burrowing existence, thus like some other homalopsids this species may be an aquatic burrower. Lim and Kamarudin (1975) collected a specimen in a jungle stream at Klang in Selangor. Tweedie (1983) reported five known specimens; I have seen only the syntypes. Diet and reproduction data are unknown.