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Generic fragmentation of Pseudonaja (Reptilia: Elapidae)


[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ The Taxonomy Forum ]

Posted by Richard Wells on March 24, 2002 at 05:11:59:

Hello All,

Here is the Third part of my Pseudonaja revision which appeared in the Astralian Biodiversity Record, 2002(7): 1-48

Best Regards from

Richard Wells


Genus Euprepiosoma Fitzinger, 1860

Peninsula Brown Snake
Euprepiosoma inframacula (Waite, 1925)

Diagnosis: This is a large but slender species with a small head that is not distinct from the neck. The head has a strong canthus rostralis and the eyes are relatively small with round pupils and a pale brown iris. Some significant features of the scalation are: nasal and preocular scales in contact, suboculars absent, 1 primary temporal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, body scales smooth in 17 rows at mid-body, ventrals 185-235, anal divided, and subcaudals 45-75 divided. The body colour can be any shade of pale or rich brown, even black, but usually dark brown or greyish-brown are common base colourations. Sometimes pale yellowish specimens may be found also. Some of the dorsal scales are coloured black, and these black scales may be densely scattered over the dorsum with the spotting being often concentrated along the vertebral line. Occasionally distinctly banded specimens occur in some areas. The head can be flecked or spotted with black, and usually has a shiny or glossy appearance. Ventrally, pale brown with the centre of the belly more towards dark grey with black spots, or in some specimens a greyish mottling pattern may dominate. The maximum size attained is around 1.5 m. in total length, but an average adult is usually about 1.2m.
Notes: Restricted to a small area of coastal southern South Australia, principally Eyre Peninsula, York Peninsula and a few nearby islands, where it inhabits a range of quite different habitats, ranging from areas of temperate semi-arid heath and shrubland on sandy soil or dunes, to dry sclerophyll woodland. Known to also inhabit limestone outcroppings in some areas also. Surprisingly little biological data is available on this very common species. It is known to be an egg-laying species, producing up to 20 in a clutch. Peninsula Brown Snakes feed mainly on small lizards, ground-nesting birds, frogs and small mammals. It is diurnal and very fast-moving, and is often observed basking on roads - consequently, many are killed by traffic. Although a rather inoffensive and shy species, it is still highly venomous. There are few records of bites, and symptoms may be severe, so urgent medical attention should always be sought in the event of a bite, because this is most certainly a potentially dangerous species. Protected under the SA National Parks and Wildlife Act (1972). Very common within its habitat, despite its restricted distribution.


Ingram's Brown Snake
Euprepiosoma ingrami (Boulenger, 1908)

Diagnosis: This is a large and robust species with a small head that is not distinct from the neck. The head has a strong canthus rostralis and the eyes are relatively small with round pupils and a dull orange-brown (almost blackish) iris. Some significant features of the scalation are: nasal and preocular scales in contact, suboculars absent, 1 primary temporal, supralabials 6, infralabials 7, body scales smooth in 17 rows at mid-body, ventrals 190-230, anal divided, and subcaudals 50-70 divided. The body colour can be a variety of browns, ranging from very dark glossy brown (almost blackish-brown), to a form that is a light olive-brown, or even a golden brown overall. Another variation can be dark brown anteriorly and golden brown posteriorly, while another can be a pale to rich yellowish-brown, with the head and nape being dark brown to black. The dorsal scales are always tipped with dark brown. Ventrally, this species may be either pale yellow, bright yellow or even orange, with bright orange spots near the edges of the ventral scales; the chin and labials are creamish. The buchal cavity colour is blackish. The maximum size attained is around 2.0 m. in total length, but 1.7 m is a large adult.
Notes: Restricted to a small area of north-western Queensland and the adjacent north-eastern Northern Territory, and an apparently isolated population in the Kimberley region of far north-east Western Australia (in the vicinity of Kununurra). Generally, it inhabits semi-arid black-soil plains with Astrebla grass cover and scattered low shrubs. Its favoured habitat is usually subject to seasonal inundation by late summer rains. Oviparous, producing up to 12 eggs in a clutch. Juveniles feed mainly on lizards, and adults on small mammals such as the Long-haired Rat (Rattus villosissimus). A secretive, mainly diurnal snake that may be encountered basking or active in the early morning. As the temperature increases, it will seek shelter in deep earth cracks until cooler afternoon conditions when it may emerge again. Although this species has been seldom observed in the field, it is more often found following heavy rain when the ground is saturated and they are forced to the surface. It may also be occasionally found active at night during hot weather. When aroused this snake will raise its head and neck up from the ground, then flatten its neck to form a distinctive cobra-like hood in a similar manner to a Speckled Brown Snake. It is usually hesitant to bite even if provoked, but extreme care should be shown in any case. This snake is highly venomous and although its bite has not resulted in any fatalities to date, urgent medical attention should be sought in the event of a bite, because this is most certainly a potentially dangerous species. Protected under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1998), the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (as amended) and the Qld Nature Conservation Act (1992). Seldom found, but known to be common within its habitat. Named for the English ornithologist Collingwood Ingram.

Eastern Brown Snake
Euprepiosoma textilis (Dumeril, Bibron and Dumeril, 1854)

Diagnosis: Variation in morphology suggests that this species may be composite. This is a very large and robust species with a small head that is not distinct from the neck. The head has a strong canthus rostralis and the eyes are relatively small with round pupils and a dull pale brown (to almost blackish) iris with a broken yellow or orange ring around the pupil. Some significant features of the scalation are: frontal straight-sided and longer than wide (and about as wide as a supraocular), nasal and preocular scales in contact, preocular higher than wide, postoculars 2, suboculars absent, temporals 1+2 (ie only 1 primary temporal), supralabials 6, infralabials 6, body scales smooth in 17 rows at mid-body, ventrals 185-235, anal divided, and subcaudals 45-76 divided. As presently defined, this is a highly variable species with a confusing array of colour and pattern combinations. The base body colour can be any of variety of browns or paler colours, ranging from greyish-brown, olive-brown, reddish-brown, orange or golden brown and very dark (almost blackish-) brown, even black. In very dark specimens the head and nape may be much paler. In some specimens, the dorsal scales are faintly edged with dark grey, but usually the (adult) body is unpatterned. In some populations there can be seasonal variation in tonal colouration, with specimens tending to be lighter during the Summer months and greyish-black during the late Autumn to early Spring period. Although the body is usually unpatterned in mature specimens, in juveniles and even immatures up to around 1 m. in length, can have a series of narrow transverse darker bands, that are usually most distinct in the juveniles but barely noticeable by the time the snake reaches maturity. In some populations the juveniles lack this narrow banding, and just have a black patch on the top of the head (but the snout is pale) and another black patch on the nape - with the body usually a uniform light olive-brown. Ventrally, this species may be either pale yellow or creamish, with bright orange spots or greyish blotches on the ventral scales. The buchal cavity colour is pinkish. The maximum size attained is around 2.3 m. in total length, but 1.8 m is a large adult.
Notes: As its common name suggests, this species occurs mainly in eastern Australia, ranging from north Queensland, south to most of eastern, central and south western New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory, throughout Victoria and into the south-east of South Australia. However, a number of outlying populations are also known from central Australia (southern and central parts of the Northern Territory) and from the southeast Kimberley region of northern Western Australia. It is also known from New Guinea. More often found in woodland habitats on sandy or loamy soils with a grassy and shrub understorey, and often in or adjacent to rocky ranges. Known from a wide range of other habitats, including wet and dry sclerophyll forest, coastal dune heath and shrublands, open grassy floodplains, and agricultural habitats. This is an oviparous species, producing up to 35 eggs in a clutch, which take about 80 days to hatch. Feeds mainly on lizards, ground-nesting birds, and small mammals, but will also eat other snakes. This is mainly a diurnal, highly alert and swift-moving snake of drier habitats. In warmer weather they can occasionally be found active on the ground at night. They shelter in earth cracks, mammal burrows, beneath logs or stumps, inside hollow logs and beneath rocks, indeed almost any object laying flush with the ground. In agricultural areas they readily occupy hay stacks and other farm produce and equipment, and this could partly explain the distinct distribution pattern of the species. Over the years it is possible that this species has been accidentally transported all over Australia (and into Papua-New Guinea?) in shipments of produce, building materials and even in farm machinery. However some regard the New Guinea population as a distinct species in its own right. This species can be highly defensive in its behaviour if disturbed, rapidly striking and delivering several bites before attempting to escape. When aroused, it often raises its head from the ground, opens its mouth in a chewing action and places the neck in an 'S' shape, prior to delivering a strike. Occasionally, specimens may raise the head and fore-body from the ground and just flatten the neck cobra-like, but this is a much less dangerous posture than the 'S'-shape. People have been often bitten by this snake while trying to kill it, as most underestimate how quick this species can move if the need arises. This snake is highly venomous and its bite has resulted in many fatalities to date, so urgent medical attention should be sought in the event of a bite. Protected under the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974) but not listed in that State as a Threatened Species in any of the Schedules of the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995). Also protected under the ACT Nature Conservation Act (1980), the Victorian Wildlife Act (1975) [but not listed in Schedule 2 of the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988)], the SA National Parks and Wildlife Act (1972), the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1998), the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (as amended) and the Qld Nature Conservation Act (1992). Regarded as common throughout most of its distribution. The name 'textilis' means 'woven' as in textiles, and probably refers to the regular body scalation of the species.

References

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Ehmann, H.F.W. 1992 Encyclopaedia of Australian Wildlife. Reptiles. Australian Museum, Sydney [Pp. 1-495]

Fairley, N.H. 1929 The dentition and biting mechanism of Australian snakes. Medical Journal of Australia, (1929) 1 (10): 313-327

Fairley, N.H. 1929 The dentition and biting mechanism of Australian snakes. In: Fairley, N.H., Kellaway, C.H. and Splatt, B. (1929): Symposium on Snake Bite. Medical Journal of Australia, March, 1929: 19-33 [Symposium Proceedings]

Fairley, N.H. and Splatt, B. 1929 Venom yields in Australian poisonous snakes. Medical Journal of Australia, (1929) 1 (11): 336-348



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