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Russian Journal of Herpetology Vol. 25, No. 1, 2018, pp.

74 – 78




Tan Van Nguyen,1 Truong Quang Nguyen,1,2 Cuong The Pham,1,2 and Thomas Ziegler3*

Submitted February 21, 2017

Opisthotropis maculosa is recorded for the first time from Vietnam based on a single specimen from Hai Ha forest
in Quang Ninh Province. Morphological characters of the Vietnamese specimen are also compared with those of
the holotype from Thailand and recently collected specimens from China. This is the eighth species of the genus
Opisthotropis known from Vietnam.

Keywords: distribution; new record; taxonomy; Quang Ninh Province.

INTRODUCTION small, and subequal (Smith, 1943; Stuart and Chuayn-

kern, 2007; Ziegler et al., 2008; David et al., 2011, 2015;
The genus Opisthotropis Günther, 1872 contains 21 Yang et al., 2011, 2013; Teynié et al., 2014). In Vietnam,
recognized species with a wide distribution from south- seven species of the genus are currently known, namely
ern China and mainland Southeast Asia southwards to Opisthotropis andersonii (Boulenger); O. balteata (Cope);
Sumatra (Indonesia), eastwards to the Philippines and O. cucae David, Pham, Nguyen et Ziegler; O. daovan-
northward to the Ryukyu Archipelago of Japan (Ziegler tieni Orlov, Darevsky et Murphy; O. jacobi Angel et
et al., 2008; David et al., 2011; Yang et al., 2013; Teynié Bourret; O. lateralis Boulenger and O. tamdaoensis
et al., 2014; Uetz et al., 2017). The members of this genus Ziegler, David et Vu (Orlov et al., 1998; Ziegler et al.,
are characterized by a combination of the following mor- 2007; Nguyen et al., 2009; David et al., 2011; Nguyen et
phological characters: head depressed, not distinct from al., 2014).
neck; body stout; eye moderate or small, with rounded or During recent herpetological field work in Quang
vertically elliptical pupil; nostril directed upwards and Ninh Province, northern Vietnam, a snake specimen was
outwards, piercing in the nasal, placed in dorsal position collected, that accorded with the diagnostic characters
on the snout; prefrontal very broad, usually single, form- of Opisthotropis maculosa Stuart et Chuaynkern, 2007.
ing a long suture with the frontal; dorsal scales smooth or Based on the morphological findings we herein report the
keeled, in 15 to 19 rows at midbody (23 rows in Opistho- first country record for Vietnam of the recently described
tropis laui Yang, Sung et Chan); precloacal scale divided;
O. maculosa, which so far was only reported from Thai-
subcaudals paired; and 20 – 40 upper maxillary teeth,
land and southern China (Stuart and Chuaynkern, 2007;
Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Vietnam Academy of Yang et al., 2011; Uetz et al., 2017).
Science and Technology, 18 Hoang Quoc Viet Road, Hanoi, Viet-
nam; e-mail:
Graduate University of Science and Technology, Vietnam Academy MATERIAL AND METHODS
of Science and Technology, 18 Hoang Quoc Viet Road, Hanoi,
AG Zoologischer Garten Köln, Riehler Strasse 173, D-50735 The single individual from Vietnam, an adult female,
Cologne, Germany; e-mail: was collected by C. T. Pham and T. V. Nguyen on 9 May
* Corresponding author: 2016 in the forest near Tai Chi Village, Quang Son

1026-2296/2018/2501-0074 © 2018 Folium Publishing Company

First Country Record of Opisthotropis maculosa Stuart et Chuaynkern, 2007 from Vietnam 75

Commune, Hai Ha District, Quang Ninh Province RESULTS

(21°35.865¢ N 107°40.159¢ E), at an elevation of 950 m
a.s.l. The specimen was euthanized in a closed vessel Morphological characters of the specimen from
Quang Ninh Province agreed well with the diagnosis pro-
with a piece of cotton wool containing ethyl acetate
vided by Stuart and Chuaynkern (2007) and with the de-
(Simmons, 2002), fixed in 85% ethanol and subsequent- scription therein as well as with data provided by Yang et
ly stored in 70% ethanol. Tissue samples were kept sepa- al. (2011), for details see Table 1, Figs. 1 and 2.
rately in 90% ethanol. The specimen was deposited in the In the following we provide a detailed description of
herpetological collection of the Institute of Ecology and the new record of Opisthotropis maculosa from Vietnam.
Biological Resources (IEBR), Hanoi, Vietnam: IEBR Measurements. SVL 396 mm, TaL 113 mm, TL
509 mm, ratio of TaL/TL 0.22; HL 13.7 mm, snout
A.2016.34 (field No. QN 2016.91).
length 4.7 mm. Maxillary teeth 24, small, curved.
Morphological identification and terminology fol-
Body round and slender; head small, indistinct from
lowed Stuart and Chuaynkern (2007). Ventral scales were neck; eye small, pupil round; nostril directed dorsally.
counted following Dowling (1951) and dorsal scale rows Rostral broader than high, visible from above; nasal
were counted at anterior neck, midbody, and anterior to weakly divided, surrounded by the first two supralabials,
cloaca. Maxillary teeth were counted by dissecting out rostral, internasal, prefrontal and loreal; two internasals,
in contact with rostral anteriorly; prefrontal single, about
the right maxilla of the species. All measurements except
twice as wide as long, pentagonal and tapering anteriorly;
for body and tail lengths were taken with a caliper to the frontal single, 1.26 times wider than long, equal to its dis-
nearest 0.1 mm. Abbreviations are as follows: HL, head tance from snout tip, tapering posteriorly; one pair of
length (from tip of snout to posterior edge of parietals); parietals, 1.88 times longer than frontal; loreal 1/1, lon-
SVL (snout-vent length): from tip of snout to anterior ger than high, not in contact with internasals and eye, sur-
rounded by second and third supralabials, nasal, prefron-
margin of cloaca; TaL (Tail length): from posterior mar-
tal and preocular; preocular 1/1, in contact with frontal;
gin of cloaca to tip of tail; TL, total length; TaL/TL, ratio postocular 1/1; supraocular 1/1, small, not in contact
of tail length to total length. Bilateral scale counts were with prefrontal; subocular absent; supralabials 8/8,
given as left/right. fourth and fifth touching eye, seventh largest; temporals

TABLE 1. Morphological characters of Opisthotropis maculosa from Thailand, China and Vietnam (after Stuart and Chuaynkern 2007, Yang et al.
2011, and own data)
THNHM 5343 SYS r0538 KFBG2002.01 SYS r0537 IEBR A.2016.34
(Holotype) Thailand China China China Vietnam
Sex Male Male Male Female Female
SVL, mm 410 358 373 398 396
TaL, mm 110 123 110 109 113
Tal/TL ratio 0.21 0.26 0.23 0.21 0.22
Preventrals 2 1 2 2 4
Ventrals 182 188 172 166 171
Paired subcaudals 67 97 83 75 79
Frontal touching eye (+) or not (–) — — — + —
Prefrontal touching supraocular (+) or not (–) + — — — —
Frontal touching preocular (+) or not (–) — + + + +
Postoculars 2 1 1 2 1
Supralabials touching eyes 4th 4th and 5th 4th and 5th 4th 4th and 5th
Supralabials 8 (3 – 1 – 4) 7 (3 – 2 – 2) 7 (3 – 2 – 2) 8 (3 – 1 – 4) 8 (3 – 2 – 3)
Infralabials 8/9 8/8 8/8 9/8 8/8
Length of chin shields Posterior > Anterior > Anterior > on left, Posterior > Anterior >
> anterior > posterior < on right > anterior > posterior
Infralabials touching anterior chin shields 1 – 5/1 – 5 1 – 3/1 – 4 1 – 4/1 – 4 1 – 5 /1 – 4 1 – 4/1 – 4
Note. For abbreviations see Material and methods.
76 Tan Van Nguyen et al.

a b
Fig. 1. Dorsal (a) and ventral (b ) views of the adult female of Opisthotropis maculosa (IEBR A.2016.34) from Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam.

a b

c d

Fig. 2. Dorsal (a), ventral (c ), and lateral (right: b, left: d ) views of the head of Opisthotropis maculosa (IEBR A.2016.34) from Quang Ninh Prov-
ince, Vietnam.
First Country Record of Opisthotropis maculosa Stuart et Chuaynkern, 2007 from Vietnam 77

Fig. 3. Habitat of Opisthotropis maculosa in Hai Ha District, Quang

Ninh, Vietnam. Fig. 4. Map of Vietnam and adjoining countries showing known local-
ities of Opisthotropis maculosa: 1, Phu Wua Wildlife Sanctuary, Nong
Khai Province, Thailand (type locality); 2, Shiwanshan Mountain;
3, Wuhuangling Mountain, Guangxi Province; 4, Dawuling Mountain,
1 + 1/1 + 1; infralabials 8/8, first to fourth bordering Guangdong Province, China; 5, Hai Ha District, Quang Ninh, Vietnam.
chin shields; dorsal scale rows 15 – 15 – 15, outer dorsal
scales enlarged, all scales glossy with apical pits; ventrals
171 (plus 4 preventrals); precloacal scale divided; Remarks. The size of the female specimen from
subcaudals 79, divided. Vietnam is somewhat smaller than that of the male holo-
Coloration. Eye black; scales on dorsal surface of type from Thailand (SVL 396 vs. 410 mm in the Thai
head glossy black with scattered yellow flecking; chin specimen). It differs from the female specimen from
shields yellow with scattered black flecking; body and southern China in having few more subcaudals (79 vs. 75
tail glossy black with iridescence above, with single yel- in the Chinese specimen), frontal not touching eye (vs.
low spot on each scale, yellow spots becoming larger touching eye in the Chinese female), and a single post-
on sides of body; ventrals yellow with black lateral mar- ocular (2 postoculars in the Chinese female).
gins; subcaudals yellow with black anterior and lateral
Ecological notes. The adult female was found in a
small rocky stream at 21:30. The surrounding habitat was Our finding fills the distribution gap of O. maculosa
secondary evergreen forest of small hardwoods, bamboo, between the type locality in Thailand and the records
and shrubs (Fig. 3). The air temperature ranged between from southern China (Stuart and Chuaynkern, 2007;
24 – 29°C and the relative humidity from 65 – 88%. Yang et al., 2011) (Fig. 4). Further records of the species
78 Tan Van Nguyen et al.

from other sites in northern Vietnam are to be expected, Orlov N. L, Darevsky I. S., and Murphy R. W. (1998),
as is the still outstanding country record of this species “A new species of mountain stream snake, genus Opistho-
from Laos. The first country record of O. maculosa from tropis Günther, 1872 (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae)
from the tropical rain forests of southern Vietnam,” Russ. J.
Vietnam brings the total number of Opisthotropis re- Herpetol., 5(1), 61 – 64.
ported from the country to eight. Of these species, three Ren, J-L-, Wang K., Jiang K., Guo P., and Li J.-T. (2017),
are endemic to Vietnam, viz. O. cucae, O. daovantieni, “A new species of the Southeast Asian genus Opisthotropis
and O. tamdaoensis (Nguyen et al., 2009). (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae) from western Hunan,
China,” Zool. Res., 38(5), 251 – 263.
Acknowledgments. We are grateful to the directorate of Simmons J. E. (2002), “Herpetological collecting and collec-
the Hai Ha Forest Protection Unit (Quang Ninh Province, Viet- tions management. Revised edition. Society for the Study of
nam) for support of our field work and issuing relevant permits. Amphibians and Reptiles,” Herpetol. Circ., 31, 1 – 153.
We thank L. T. Ly and D. V. Dang (Quang Ninh) for their assis- Smith M. A. (1943), The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and
tance in the field. We thank H. T. Ngo (Hanoi, Vietnam) for lab- Burma, including the whole of the Indo-Chinese subregion.
oratory assistance, as well as E. Sterling (New York, USA) and Reptilia and Amphibia. Vol. III. Serpentes, Taylor and Fran-
K. Koy (Berkeley, CA, USA) for providing the map. We cor- cis, London.
dially thank S. V. Nguyen (IEBR, Hanoi, Vietnam), T. Pagel Stuart B. L. and Chuaynkern Y. (2007), “A new Opisthotro-
and C. Landsberg (Cologne Zoo, Köln, Germany) for support of pis (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae) from Northeastern
our research. Field work in Quang Ninh Province was partially Thailand,” Curr. Herpetol., 26(1), 35 – 40.
supported by Cologne Zoo. Teynié A., Lottier A., David P., Nguyen T. Q., and Vogel G.
(2014), “A new species of the genus Opisthotropis Günther,
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