Aesthetic aliens: invasion of the beauty rat snake, Elaphe taeniura Cope, 1861 in Belgium, Europe.

Bioinvasive Records 10(3). DOI:10.3391/bir.2021.10.3.24


We report on an established population of the beauty rat snake, Elaphe taeniura Cope, 1861, a large, oviparous colubrid native to Southeastern Asia, in Belgium. The snakes have invaded a railroad system next to a city in the northeast of the country. Our report is based on validated citizen science observations, supplemented with directed surveys. The species has been recorded in the wild since 2006, most probably following an introduction linked to the pet trade. Genetic identification, based on the COI gene, confirms that the sampled individuals belong to E. taeniura. In addition, the snakes recorded in Belgium phenotypically match E. t. taeniura, a Chinese subspecies. Exact date of introduction, invasion extent and population size are currently unknown, but the number of observations has increased in recent years. Sightings exist from an area of 208 km², yet the core distribution is estimated to be no more than 2 km². Based on what is currently known on its ecology and distribution, we estimate that the species represents medium environmental risk. However, the species' distribution and invasive potential in Belgium remain largely unknown. As management of more widely established snake populations is notoriously difficult, we advocate a rapid response as the most appropriate risk management strategy.


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Molecular Systematics and Phylogeny of Old and New World Ratnakes, Elaphe AUCT., and Related Genera (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae.

Russian J. Herpetology 9(2): 105-124.


The phylogenetic relationships of the Holarctic ratsnakes (Elaphe auct.) are inferred from portions of two
mitochondrial genes, 12S rRNA and COI. Elaphe Fitzinger is made up of ten Palaearctic species. Natrix
longissima Laurenti (type species) and four western Palaearctic species (hohenackeri, lineatus, persicus,
and situla) are assigned to Zamenis Wagler. Its phylogenetic affinities with closely related genera, Coronella and Oocatochus, remain unclear. The East Asian Coluber porphyraceus Cantor is referred to a new genus. This taxon and the western European Rhinechis scalaris have an isolated position among Old World ratsnakes. Another new genus is described for four Oriental species (cantoris, hodgsonii, moellendorffi, and taeniurus). New World ratsnakes and allied genera are monophyletic. Coluber flavirufus Cope is referred to Pseudelaphe Mertens and Rosenberg. Pantherophis Fitzinger is revalidated for Coluber guttatus L. (type species) and further Nearctic species (bairdi, obsoletus, and vulpinus). Senticolis triaspis is the sister taxon of New World ratsnakes including the genera Arizona, Bogertophis, Lampropeltis, Pituophis, and Rhinocheilus. The East Asian Coluber conspicillatus Boie and Coluber mandarinus Cantor form a monophyletic outgroup with respect to other Holarctic ratsnake genera and are referred to Euprepiophis Fitzinger. Three Old World species, viz. Elaphe (sensu lato) bella, E. (s.l.) frenata, and E. (s.l.) prasina remain unassigned. The various groups of ratsnakes (tribe Lampropeltini) show characteristic hemipenis features.


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Recent Invaders in Small Mediterranean Islands: Wild Boars Impact Snakes in Port-Cros National Park.

Diversity 2021, 13, 498.


Mediterranean islands host unique ecosystems that are particularly vulnerable to invasive species. However, knowledge regarding the precise impact of invasive species on local biodiversity remains limited for many of these systems. Here we report on the negative impacts of invasive wild boars (Sus scrofa) on native snakes on islands in the Mediterranean basin. Capture-mark-recapture was initiated in 2012 on two snake species (Montpellier snake, Malpolon monspessulanus and Ladder snake, Zamenis scalaris) across two islands of Port-Cros National Park. Several wild boars, an invasive species, reached the islands in 2007. They remained confined to small areas of the islands for several years. In Port-Cros, the numbers of wild boars suddenly increased in 2015, and rapidly colonized the whole island damaging vast land surfaces. In Porquerolles, wild boars did not proliferate. This offered an opportunity to examine the impact of wild boar outbreak with a Before-After Control-Impact design (BACI). Snake counts and mark-recapture modeling showed that demographic traits were stable before 2016 for both snake species on both islands. As well as abundance, recruitment, and population growth rate of Montpellier snakes significantly declined where wild boars proliferated but remained constant on the island where they did not. Wild boars probably impacted snake numbers through habitat destruction and direct killing. The rapid decline of snakes (apex predators) and intensive uprooting that strongly damage ground dwelling species (plants, animals) suggest that wild boars represent a serious threat to island biodiversity. As elsewhere around the world, these invasive ungulates proliferate in the Mediterranean basin, they are proficient swimmers and exhibit a remarkably high invasive potential. We recommend vigilance and fast eradication to prevent population outburst; even a few a localized non-proliferating individuals contain the latent potential for devastating outbreaks.


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Control of the ladder snake (Rhinechis scalaris) on Formentera using experimental live-traps.

In: C.R. Veitch, M.N. Clout, A.R. Martin, J.C. Russell and C.J. West (eds.) (2019). Island invasives: scaling
up to meet the challenge, pp. 332–336. Occasional Paper SSC no. 62. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.


The ladder snake (Rhinechis scalaris ) is a recent alien invasive species found on Formentera (83 km2), in the Balearic Archipelago (4,492 km2). It has been introduced in the last decade as cargo stowaway hidden within ornamental olive trees from the Iberian Peninsula, causing negative impacts on native fauna. This paper describes the methodology used to reduce the ladder snake population as a first attempt since it was detected in 2006. For this purpose, an experimental live-trap was designed by the wildlife management team of the Consorci per a la Recuperació de la Fauna de les Illes Balears (COFIB) during the 2016 campaign. As a result, 314 R. scalaris were trapped in an area of 472 ha, achieving an efficiency of up to 0.167 captures per trap and night, and 0.040 captures per unit effort on average. This outcome encourages the use of the live-trap as a cost-effective method for reducing the snake population in Formentera. Nonetheless, this method should be considered a starting point toward R. scalaris control.


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Dienstag, 08 März 2022 16:00

CALMONTE, T. & FERRI, V. (1987).

Un serpente nuovo per la Fauna italiana: il Colubro scalare, Elaphe scalaris (Schinz, 1822).

Atti Soc.ital.Sci.nat., Museo civ. Stor. Nat. Milano, 128 (3-4): 314-316.


First time found in Italy the Ladder Snake, Elaphe scalaris (Schinz, 1822) (Reptilia, Colubridae). A specimen of Ladder Snake, Elaphe scalaris, was recently found near Ventimiglia, Imperia. This is the first record for this species in Italy.


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Sonntag, 20 Februar 2022 11:34

JOGER, U., & BÖHME, W. (2006)

Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas - Schlangen (Serpentes) III: Viperidae.

420 Seiten. AULA-Verlag. 978-3-89104-617-3 (ISBN)


Der dritte Teil des Schlangenbandes hat die Vipern zum Thema, die einzige Familie in Europa, deren Gift dem Menschen gefährlich werden kann. Der Aufbau der Artkapitel entspricht dem in Band 3/ I und 3/ II A. Insgesamt werden 13 Arten besprochen:
Agkistrodon halys (Halysgrubenotter) – Macrovipera lebetina (Levanteotter) – Macrovipera schweizeri (Kykladenviper) – Vipera ammodytes (Sandotter) – Vipera aspis (Aspisviper, Juraviper) – Vipera berus (Kreuzotter) – Vipera dinnicki (Westkaukasische Otter) – Vipera kaznakovi (Kaukasus-Otter) – Vipera latastii (Stülpnasenotter) – Vipera nikolskii (Nikolskij`s Viper) – Vipera seoanei (Nordiberische Kreuzotter) – Vipera ursinii (Wiesenotter) – Vipera xanthina (Bergotter).


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A Taxonomic Revision of Boas (Serpentes: Boidae).

Zootaxa 3846 (2): 249-260.


Large molecular datasets including many species and loci have greatly improved our knowledge of snake phylogeny, particularly within the group including boas (Table 1). Recent taxonomic revisions using molecular phylogenies have clarified some of the previously contentious nomenclature of the group (Wilcox et al. 2002; Lawson et al. 2004; Burbrink 2005; Noonan & Chippindale 2006), resulting in a robust taxonomy that is mostly concordant with the phylogeny as currently known, which includes ~85% of described, extant species (Pyron et al. 2013; Reynolds et al. 2014). However, a few unresolved issues remain, related primarily to the rules of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (the Code hereafter) and the application of Linnaean ranks (International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature et al. 1999).


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Donnerstag, 01 Oktober 2020 15:01


Vorläufige Liste der Schlangen des Tai-Nationalparks / Elfenbeinküste und angrenzender Gebiete.

SALAMANDRA 36(1): 25-38


Wir stellen die Schlangenfauna des Tai-Nationalparks (TNP) mit Angabe weiterer biologischer Daten vor. Insgesamt sind nun 39 Schlangenarten aus dem TNP bekannt. Im Primär-Regenwald wurden 22 und in offeneren Habitaten beziehungsweise am Waldrand 17 Schlangenarten gefunden. 15 Arten waren arborikol, 19 lebten am Boden und fünf unterirdisch. Wir gehen davon aus, daß die bisherigen Nachweise etwa zwei Drittel der für diesen letzten großen Regenwald Westafrikas zu erwartenden Arten ausmachen.


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Dienstag, 29 September 2020 16:24

ROELKE, C. E. & SMITH, E. N. (2010)

Herpetofauna, Parc National des Volcans, North Province, Republic of Rwanda.

Check List 6 (4): 525-531. Jan. 2010. DOI: 10.15560/6.4.525


Herein is presented a list of the reptiles and anurans from the Parc National des Volcans (PNV)(01°43’ S, 29°52’ W), an area in the west and north provinces of the Republic of Rwanda in the Albertine Rift region of Africa.  Fieldwork was conducted between two and six days per week from June through August 2007 and 2008. We also conducted literature searches of all historical expeditions within the park for species records. Seventeen species of reptiles and anurans are recorded from the PNV. Nine of the species were anurans, distributed in five families: Arthroleptidae (3), Bufonidae (1), Hyperoliidae (3), Phrynobatrachidae (1), and Pipidae (1). Eight species of reptiles were recorded from five families: Chamaeleonidae (1), Lacertidae (2), Scincidae (2), Colubridae (2), and Viperidae (1). Eight of the seventeen species found in the PNV are endemic to the Albertine Rift.


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Limitations of Climatic Data for Inferring Species Boundaries: Insights from Speckled Rattlesnakes.

PLoS ONE 10(6): e0131435. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.013143


Phenotypes, DNA, and measures of ecological differences are widely used in species delimitation. Although rarely defined in such studies, ecological divergence is almost always approximated using multivariate climatic data associated with sets of specimens (i.e., the “climatic niche”); the justification for this approach is that species-specific climatic envelopes act as surrogates for physiological tolerances. Using identical statistical procedures, we evaluated the usefulness and validity of the climate-as-proxy assumption by comparing performance of genetic (nDNA SNPs and mitochondrial DNA), phenotypic, and climatic data for objective species delimitation in the speckled rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii) complex. Ordination and clustering patterns were largely congruent among intrinsic (heritable) traits (nDNA, mtDNA, phenotype), and discordance is explained by biological processes(e.g., ontogeny, hybridization). In contrast, climatic data did not produce biologically meaningful clusters that were congruent with any intrinsic dataset, but rather corresponded to regional differences in atmospheric circulation and climate, indicating an absence of inherent taxonomic signal in these data. Surrogating climate for physiological tolerances adds artificial weight to evidence of species boundaries, as these data are irrelevant for that purpose. Based on the evidence from congruent clustering of intrinsic datasets, we recommend that three subspecies of C.mitchellii be recognized as species: C.angelensis,C.mitchellii, and C.Pyrrhus.


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