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A new state record of the Mandarin Rat Snake Euprepiophis mandarinus (Cantor, 1842) (Squamata: Colubridae: Coronellini) from Mizoram


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The Mandarin Rat Snake Euprepiophis mandarinus (Cantor, 1842) is a widely distributed species in the Indo-Chinese region with western-most limits in North East India. However, it is known from very few localities in the extreme northeastern states in India. Herein, we report E. mandarinus based upon a roadkill specimen collected from the Champhai in Mizoram. The record of Champhai extends the known distribution of the species by about 292 km SW from the localities previously recorded. Morphological variation of the Indian population is discussed.
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Amphib. Reptile Conserv. June 2019 | Volume 13 | Number 1 | e179
Amphibian & Reptile Conservation
13(1) [General Section]: 230–234 (e179).
A new state record of the Mandarin Rat Snake Euprepiophis
mandarinus (Cantor, 1842) (Squamata: Colubridae:
Coronellini) from Mizoram, India
1,2Khan Ashaharraza, 3V. Rangasamy, 4Hmar Tlawmte Lalremsanga, 5Lalbiakzuala,
6Jenny Sailo, and 7Tom Charlton
1Department of Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation, North Orissa University, Baripada 757003, Odisha, INDIA 2Indian Herpetological Society,
Pune 411009, Maharashtra, INDIA 3Forest Survey of India, MOEFCC, Government of India, Eastern Zone, Kolkata 700601, West Bengal, INDIA
4,5Department of Zoology, Mizoram University, Aizawl 796004, Mizoram, INDIA 6Deputy Conservator of Forests, Khawzawl Wildlife Division,
Department of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Champhai, Mizoram, INDIA 7Eco Animal Encounters, 33 Brisbane, Stonehouse,
Gloucestershire-GL10 2PX, UNITED KINGDOM
Abstract.—The Mandarin Rat Snake Euprepiophis mandarinus (Cantor, 1842) is a widely distributed species
in the Indo-Chinese region with western-most limits in North East India. However, it is known from very few
localities in the extreme north-eastern states in India. Herein, we report E. mandarinus based upon a roadkill
specimen collected from the Champhai in Mizoram. The record of Champhai extends the known distribution of
the species by about 292 km SW from the localities previously recorded. Morphological variation of the Indian
population is discussed.
Keywords. Champhai, montane forests, morphological variation, Palearctic, range extension, roadkill
Citation: Ashaharraza K, Rangasamy V, Lalremsanga HT, Lalbiakzuala, Sailo J, Charlton T. 2019. A new state record of the Mandarin Rat Snake
Euprepiophis mandarinus (Cantor, 1842) (Squamata: Colubridae: Coronellini) from Mizoram, India. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13(1): [General
Section]: 230–234 (e179).
Copyright: © 2019 Ashaharraza et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License [Attribu-
tion 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0):], which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The ofcial and authorized publication credit sources, which will be duly enforced, are
as follows: ofcial journal title Amphibian & Reptile Conservation; ofcial journal website:
Received: 19 August 2018; Accepted: 14 April 2019; Published: 6 June 2019
Ofcial journal website:
The Mandarin Rat Snake Euprepiophis mandarinus
(Cantor, 1842) is a relatively rarely encountered spe-
cies of Old World ratsnake found in Eastern Asia (Ji et
al. 2012; Wallach et al. 2014). The type specimen was
collected from Chusan (=Zhoushan) Island, China, by T.
Cantor (Boulenger 1894). Günther (1864) provided ex-
cellent head illustrations of Euprepiophis mandarinus.
The species is distributed in Myanmar (Prater 1919),
Vietnam (Nguyen et al. 2009), China (SFAC 2009), and
possibly Laos (Das 2012). It occurs in forest habitats,
both tropical and temperate forests, but can also be found
in grasslands and shrublands (Schulz 1996). In Vietnam,
the species is known from Na Hang, Tam Dao, and found
in karst areas in the northern mountain ranges at around
1,400–1,500 m asl (Orlov et al. 2000; Quyet and Ziegler
2004; Nguyen et al. 2009). Among the known distribu-
tion localities of this species, the nearest to India lies
within the Chin Hills, Myanmar (Prater 1919).
Euprepiophis mandarinus is a secretive species, ac-
tive in the morning and early evening (Whitaker and
Captain 2004). Based on phylogenetic studies, the pres-
ent taxonomic status of this species is placed under the
subfamily Colubrinae (Utiger et al. 2005). More recent
broad-scale phylogenetic studies of snakes also sup-
port this relationship (Figueroa et al. 2016). A molecular
study of Euprepiophis mandarinus suggests that these
ratsnakes originated in tropical Asia in the late Eocene,
and subsequently dispersed to the Western and Eastern
Palearctic during early Oligocene (Burbrink and Law-
son 2007). The genus Euprepiophis is subtended by the
basal node, separating them from the remainder of the
ratsnakes lineages (Chen et al. 2017). The populations of
Euprepiophis mandarinus are declining, and Wang and
Xie (2009) indicated that this species has declined by
30% over the previous decade in China.
In India, Euprepiophis mandarinus has been recorded
from only three localities and reports are separated by
long time intervals. The rst specimen was collected by
Annandale (1912) from Upper Rotung Valley (=East
Siang District), Arunachal Pradesh, and was described
as Ablabes pavo, which is presently regarded as a ju-
nior synonym of Euprepiophis mandarinus (Das et al.
1998; Wallach et al. 2014). After a gap of seventy-ve
years, the species was recorded again from Namdapha
Correspondence. 1,2 (corresponding author), 3, 4,
5, 6, 7
Amphib. Reptile Conserv. June 2019 | Volume 13 | Number 1 | e179
Ashaharraza et al.
DOR3: number of dorsal scale rows at one head-length
before the tail; TEMP: number of temporals (L+R); SL1:
number of supralabials (L+R); SL2: number of supralabi-
als touching the eyes (L+R); INFR: number of infralabials
(L+R); LOR: number of loreals (L+R); POC: number of
post-oculars (L+R); NP: National Park, CHK Rd: Cham-
phai-Hnahlan-Khuangphah Road; FSI: Forest Survey of
NP-Gandhigram road, Changlang District of Arunachal
Pradesh, and this species was regarded as rare at the site
(Sanyal and Gayen 2006). More recently it has been re-
ported from the Zunheboto District of Nagaland (Mathew
2005; Sen and Mathew 2008; Lele et al. 2018). However,
the species was never reported from Mizoram by earlier
researchers (Mathew 2007; Lalremsanga et al. 2011; Lal-
tanpuia et al. 2008).
Methods and Materials
A dead specimen, possibly killed with a sharp blade, was
collected from the roadside (Fig. 1), 14 km north of Cham-
phai town (23˚36’27.1”N, 93˚21’13.2”E), a district capital
of Champhai in Mizoram. The specimen was xed in 4%
formalin, preserved in 70% ethanol, and deposited in the
departmental museum of Zoology, Mizoram University,
Aizawl (MZMU-1135). The specimen was photographed
with a digital Canon Powershot SX50 HS camera. Mea-
surements were taken with a Mitutoyo™ digital caliper
to the nearest 0.01 mm, except SVL and TL, which were
measured to the nearest mm with a measuring tape. Ventral
scales were counted after Dowling (1951), and standard
external morphological characters are given in Table 1.
Additional data on distribution was obtained from the col-
lections of BNHS, Mumbai, and ZSI, Kolkata. Geographic
co-ordinates were mapped with Garmin GPSMAP® 62s.
BNHS: Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India;
MZMU: Museum of Zoology department, Mizoram Uni-
versity, Aizawl, India; SVL: snout to vent length; TL: tail-
length; HL: head-length; EYED: horizontal diameter of
the eye; EYEN: distance from center of the eye to posteri-
or border of the nostril; WSNT: width of the snout; VENT:
number of ventrals; SUBC: number of subcaudals and
terminal scute excluded; DOR1: number of dorsal scale
rows at one head-length behind the head; DOR2: number
of dorsal scale rows at the position of the middle ventral;
Fig. 1. Dorsal and ventral view of roadkill Euprepiophis mandarinus (MZMU-1135) collected from Champhai, Mizoram. Photo
by V. Rangasamy.
Table 1. Detailed meristic and pholidosis data of Euprepiophis
mandarinus (measurements in mm).
Collection Voucher Number MZMU-1135
Collection Locality CHK Rd, Champhai,
Mizoram, India
Elevation 1678 m asl
Sex Female
Date of Collection 10/04/2018
Collector Rangasamy and Ashaharraza
SVL 297.50
TL 66.20
HL 15.1
HW 10.4
EYED 3.2
EYEN 3.0
WSNT 4.3
VENT 212
DOR1 23
DOR2 23
DOR3 23
TEMP 2+3
SL1 8
SL2 4th and 5th
LOR Absent
Amphib. Reptile Conserv. June 2019 | Volume 13 | Number 1 | e179
India; DST-SERB: Department of Science and Technol-
ogy, Science and Engineering Research Board, Govern-
ment of India; EMR: Extramural Research funding.
Results and Discussion
The snake has large, elliptical yellow spots, edged with
broad black circles on dorsum and tail, lateral scales are
dull grey, mixed with yellow dorsals; the forehead has a
black V-shaped pattern with a yellow spot between pari-
etals; the belly is yellowish-green with wide black trans-
verse blotches, which turn into entire bands on the sub-
caudal scales. The body is robust; the head is short and
slightly distinct from neck; the snout is obtuse; the tail is
short and stout; the eyes are small with a rounded pupil;
the dorsal scales are smooth; the anal is divided. This de-
scription matches with Smith (1943) and Das (2012).
The collection of the Mandarin Rat Snake Euprepio-
phis mandarinus from Champhai is the rst record for
Mizoram State and the fourth record of this species from
India (Fig. 2). Champhai is located at 292 km radial dis-
tance south-east of the Zunheboto District of Nagaland,
the closest previously known locality.
The collected specimen is distinct from the individu-
als we examined from Republic of China (Fig. 3) by the
absence of loreal scales and by the absence of olive-grey
and red lateral blotches on the dorsum. Although vehicu-
lar trafc is a known threat to this species, our study has
added manual killing as another evident threat that is po-
tentially responsible for population decline of Euprepio-
phis mandarinus.
Acknowledgements.—We are thankful to
Vanlalchualiova (Chief Conservator of Forests, Kolasib
District of Mizoram) for encouraging the publication of
these observations. VR is grateful to Kailash Chandra
(Director, Zoological Survey of India) for material
examination and support of the study. We are thankful to
Rahul Khot for his curatorial help at BNHS. We extend
our sincere gratitude to Rosamma Mathew for the help
with the published literature. We acknowledge Ashok
Captain for his comments and personal communication
during the writing of the manuscript. Deepest regards to
Mandarin Rat Snake in Mizoram, India
Fig. 2. Map depicting Champhai (triangle) Mizoram, a new
locality for E. mandarinus in India with previously known
localities (lled circles). Inset map shows relative position of
all localities within Republic of India.
Fig. 3. A distinct form of Euprepiophis mandarinus with red-brown dorsals from Republic of China. Photo by Tom Charlton.
Amphib. Reptile Conserv. June 2019 | Volume 13 | Number 1 | e179
Anil Khaire (Chairman, Indian Herpetological Society)
for his guidance. Additional thanks are due to Suchetana
Sen, Mufaddal Shakir, Vishal Varma, Prasad Gond, Ravi
Pawar, Madhao Vaidya, and Abhijeet Dani for assisting
in the Indo-Burmese reptile survey. We are thankful to
Gernot Vogel, Deepak V., and an anonymous reviewer
for comments on an earlier version of this paper. At North
Orissa University, KA is thankful to Cuckoo Mahapatra,
Rabindra Kumar Mishra, and Shrustidhar Rout for their
input during manuscript construction. VR acknowledges
Dr. C. Vidhyasagar (DFO, Lunglei, Mizoram, India) and
Mahalaxmi (Annamalaiputhur, Tamil Nadu, India) for
continuous support and help. The collection of the present
specimen from Champhai was possible under permission
No. A.33011/2/99-CWLW/225 issued by Chief Wildlife
Warden, Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Department, Government of Mizoram, India. HTL and
LBZ extend their gratitude to DST-SERB, New Delhi
for providing laboratory facilities under EMR number
EMR/2016/002391. At FSI, our humble thanks to Ajaya
Kumar Nayak and Ashok Kumar Biswal for support and
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Mandarin Rat Snake in Mizoram, India
Khan Ashaharraza, fondly known as Krishna Khan, is a central Indian herpetologist. Ashaharraza has received
many grants and accolades, and is a reputed member of Indian Herpetological Society. With a Master’s degree in
Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation, he mentors the research of M.Sc. students as well as amateurs. Ashaharraza
is one of the pioneers of herpetological research in Vidarbha, and has published scientic communications from all
four biodiversity hotspots in India. His research projects now include the Indo-Burmese Reptile Survey, Natural
History and Biogeography of Indian Reptiles, and Avifauna of Central India.
V. Rangasamy is a government servant in the Forest Survey of India, under the Ministry of Environment, Forests
and Climate Change, Government of India. V. Rangasamy is also a Ph.D. scholar at the Zoological Survey of India
(ZSI), afliated with Pondicherry University, focusing on the natural history and phylogenetics of Polypedates
insularis, an endangered tree frog of Great Nicobar Island, India. He worked for ZSI as a JRF and SRF in the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands under the supervision of Dr. Raghunathan (Scientist-E, ZSI, ANRC, Port Blair) and
Dr. Sivaperuman (Scientist-D, ZSI, ANRC, Port Blair). His research interests include the taxonomy, distribution,
and behavioral study of amphibians, reptiles and, plants of the north eastern states of India.
H.T. Lalremsanga is a northeast Indian zoologist, whose Ph.D. work in amphibian biology was at North Eastern
Hill University in 2011. He is working as Assistant Professor in the department of Zoology, Mizoram University, and
has described new species of frogs, eels, and snakes, and a new genus of snakes. He is interested in the systematics
and biology of amphibians and reptiles, and has established the Developmental Biology and Herpetology Lab in
which he guides his research scholars and M.Sc. students.
Lalbiakzuala is currently working on his M.Phil. degree under the supervision of Dr. H.T. Lalremsanga in the
Department of Zoology, Mizoram University, India. Lalbiakzuala completed his Master’s in Zoology from Mizoram
University, with a thesis on Preliminary Study on Helminth Parasites of Snakes in Mizoram, Northeast India.
Jenny Sailo is a member of the Mizoram Forest Service (2009 batch). Jenny is currently working as Divisional
Forest Ofcer, Khawzawl Wildlife Division, in the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department,
Government of Mizoram, India. Jenny graduated from North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology
(NERIST) in Nirjuli, Arunachal Pradesh, and obtained a post-graduate degree in Forestry from Mizoram University,
Mizoram. Her elds of interest include wildlife management, forest conservation, and the sustainable conservation
of Biodiversity.
Tom Charlton is a British herpetologist currently working as a coordinator in a snakebite mitigation program in
Central Province, Papua New Guinea. Back home in the United Kingdom, Tom works with several expedition and
wilderness medicine training providers to develop and present specialist lectures on snakebite rst aid and mitigation
strategies for medics working overseas. Tom’s interests lie largely with the herpetofauna of Southeast Asia, and
its snakes in particular, and he has authored the book King Cobra: Natural History and Captive Management,
published in January 2018.
... Vogel et al. 2017Vogel et al. , 2020Giri et al. 2019aGiri et al. , 2019bLalronunga et al. 2021;Purkayastha et al. 2021) and distributional range extensions (e.g. Lalremsanga et al. 2010Lalremsanga et al. , 2011Lalremsanga et al. , 2018aLalremsanga et al. , 2018bAshaharraza et al. 2019;Lalremsanga 2019a, 2019b;Hmar et al. 2020Hmar et al. , 2021a2021b;Muansanga et al. 2020). Prior to this study, Mizoram state was home to five nominal species of Cyrtodactylus with the removal of C. khasiensis from the state fauna . ...
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A new species of Cyrtodactylus is described herein on the basis of morphological and phylogenetic evidence inferred from the mitochondrial nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydride dehydrogenase subunit 2 gene from Mizoram, Northeast India. The new species is distinguished from its congeners by an adult snout-vent length of 62.6–68.6 mm; 10–11 supralabials; 9–11 infralabials; dorsal tubercles rounded, conical to weakly keeled and in 19–20 longitudinal rows; 32–36 paravertebral tubercles between the level of axilla and groin; 32–39 mid-ventral scale rows across the ventral region; 6 precloacal pores in males and 0–6 precloacal pits in females; 14–18 subdigital lamellae under toe IV; no single row of transversely enlarged subcaudal scales; indistinct pattern of alternating dark brown blotches on the dorsum of the body. Morphologically and genetically, the new species is recovered as the sister species to C. aaronbaueri, but is genetically distinct by an uncorrected p-distance of 0.099–0.1, and morphologically in the number of precloacal pores, mid-ventral scale rows, paravertebral tubercles on the trunk, dorsal tubercle rows, dorsal spot, and subdigital lamellae on pes.
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To examine Holarctic snake dispersal, we inferred a phylogenetic tree from four mtDNA genes and one scnDNA gene for most species of the Old World (OW) and New World (NW) colubrid group known as ratsnakes. Ancestral area distributions are estimated for various clades using divergence-vicariance analysis and maximum likelihood on trees produced using Bayesian inference. Dates of divergence for the same clades are estimated using penalized likelihood with statistically crosschecked calibration references obtained from the Miocene fossil record. With ancestral areas and associated dates estimated, various hypotheses concerning the age and environment associated with the origin of ratsnakes and the dispersal of NW taxa from OW ancestors were tested. Results suggest that the ratsnakes originated in tropical Asia in the late Eocene and subsequently dispersed to the Western and Eastern Palearctic by the early Oligocene. These analyses also suggest that the monophyletic NW ratsnakes (the Lampropeltini) diverged from OW ratsnakes and dispersed through Beringia in the late Oligocene/early Miocene when this land bridge was mostly composed of deciduous and coniferous forests.
Globally distributed groups may show regionally distinct rates of diversification, where speciation is elevated given timing and sources of ecological opportunity. However, for most organisms, nearly complete sampling at genomic-data scales to reduce topological error in all regions is unattainable, thus hampering conclusions related to biogeographic origins and rates of diversification. We explore processes leading to the diversity of global ratsnakes and test several important hypotheses related to areas of origin and enhanced diversification upon colonizing new continents. We estimate species trees inferred from phylogenomic scale data (304 loci) while exploring several strategies that consider topological error from each individual gene tree. With a dated species tree, we examine taxonomy and test previous hypotheses that suggest the ratsnakes originated in the Old World (OW) and dispersed to New World (NW). Furthermore, we determine if dispersal to the NW represented a source of ecological opportunity, which should show elevated rates of species diversification. We show that ratsnakes originated in the OW during the mid-Oligocene and subsequently dispersed to the NW by the mid-Miocene; diversification was also elevated in a subclade of NW taxa. Finally, the optimal biogeographic region-dependent speciation show that the uptick in ratsnake diversification was associated with colonization of the NW. We consider several alternative explanations that account for regionally distinct diversification rates.