Home

Psammophis occidentalis

Comment "Whilst P. occidentalis is clearly a variant of P. phillipsi its preponderance within the Cameroon to Uganda area encourages us to give it formal recognition and so that data appertaining to it will not be attributed to P. philllipsi, we would prefer to give it specific status." Hughes and Wade, 2004)
Recognition What is the difference between P. phillipsi and P. occidentalis?
  1. Divided cloacal scale (P.o.) vs. undivided (P.p.)
  2. Obvious dorsolateral light coloured stripe on body scales 4/5
  3. "Obfuscation of the venter with grey occurs occasionally in Liberia (MNHN 1986.1807, MRAC 29424), Côte d'Ivoire (MNHN 1993.3497) but commonly and consistently in "P. phillipsi" from Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad and northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (ie. "Zaire" until recently)." (Hughes and Wade 2004)

What is the difference between P. occidentalis and P. sibilans?

  • Nine labials ( 10 on left of type) with the first four in contact with the anterior chin shield, unlike the common pattern of sibilans, 10/11(5)

 

Common Names Olive Grass Racer
Synonym Psammophis phillipsi occidentalis WERNER 1919
Psammophis sibilans occidentalis WERNER 1919
Psammophis phillipsi occidentalis — HUGHES & WADE 2004
Psammophis occidentalis — CHIRIO & LEBRETON 2007 
Distribution Cameroon to Uganda.

"Snakes of the genus Psammophis are widespread in diverse habitats of west Africa, from dry savannas to moist rainforests. In southern Nigeria, P. phillipsi occurs with two 'forms', one with a divided cloacal shield (CSD) and one with an entire cloacal shield (CSE). These 'forms' were suggested to be possibly distinct species in a recent review by Hughes (1999). However, as no data are available on the variation in natural history, if any, between these two supposed species, we collected data on local distribution and natural history traits of these 'forms' in several localities of southern Nigeria. Out of 32 localities examined, sympatric CSD and CSE specimens occurred in 28.1% of the localities, CSD specimens alone occurred in 68.8%, and CSE specimens alone occurred in 3.1%. At five additional localities, where a higher number of specimens was examined (range 21-41 specimens), CSD specimens were clearly dominant over CSE specimens (on average 88.8% of specimens in each population), independently of the habitat types, and there was no apparent effect of longitude on the frequency of occurrence of CSD specimens. Both 'forms' proved to be habitat generalists (often inhabiting deforested areas and suburbs), and very similar in terms of type of prey eaten (mainly Agama lizards and Mabuya skinks, but also small mammals), and apparently also in terms of micro-habitats used for foraging (clearings into forested zones). Overall, there was no evident difference between these 'forms' in terms of the main ecological traits examined here." (Luiselli et al., 2004)

Types see Hughes and Wade, 2004.
Comment Closely related to P. sibilans and both may represent the same species. P. p. occidentalis may include specimens some have identified as P. subtaeniatus sudanensis and others would include in P. rukwae.

Psammophis sibilans var. mossambica PETERS 1882: 122 has been elevated to full species status.

Nigerian specimens are consistent with descriptions of P. phillipsi by Hallowell (1844), Villiers (1975), Hughes and Barry (1969), and Broadley (1977) in all features (e.g., plain colouration, shape of the snout) except for the presence of a divided cloacal scale in several specimens (see Hughes, 1999; Hughes and Wade, 2004). Although the condition of the cloacal scale has been considered a diagnostic feature between phillipsi (cloacal scale entire) and sibilans (or rukwae, following Brandstätter, 1995; cloacal scale divided; see also Chippaux, 1999), some authors named all specimens (including those with divided cloacal scale) as ‘phillipsi’ (e.g., Akani et al., 2002a, 2002b, 2003).

Hughes (1999) found that cloacal-scale-entire (CSE) specimens dominate in his collections of phillipsi from West Africa (Liberia to Ghana), and cloacal-scale-divided (CSD) specimens dominate in Nigeria, Cameroon, and central African forests. He also concluded that “the West African, unpatterned specimens which Luiselli et al. have in the past identified as “P. phillipsi” (e.g. Hughes and Barry, 1968) comprises two forms which are likely to be distinct species: P. phillipsi is the name for the specimens from forest clearings with CSE condition; and those from savannah and sympatric with “P. sibilans”, are what Brandstätter treats as a new subspecies (“forest margin”)”, with mostly a CSD condition. 
References
  • Auerbach,R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Barnett, Linda K. 2001. The herpetofauna of Abuko Nature Reserve, the Gambia. Herpetological Bulletin (77):5-1
  • Barnett, Linda K. & Emms, Craig 2005. Common reptiles of The Gambia. Rare Repro, Hailsham, East Sussex, 24 pp.
  • Böhme, Wolfgang, Mark-Oliver Rödel, Christian Brede & Philipp Wagner 2011. The reptiles (Testudines, Squamata, Crocodylia) of the forested southeast of the Republic Guinea (Guinée forestière), wit a country-wide checklist Bonn zoological Bulletin 60 (1): 35-61 - get paper here
  • Boycott, R.C. 1992. An Annotated Checklist of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Swaziland. The Conservation Trust of Swaziland, 1992; online at http://www.sntc.org.sz/checklst/sdreptam.html.
  • Briscoe, M.S. 1949. Notes on Snakes Collected in Liberia. Copeia 1949 (1): 16-18 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D. G. & HOWELL, K. M. 1991. A check list of the reptiles of Tanzania, with synoptic keys. Syntarsus 1: 1—70
  • Broadley, D.G. 1977. A review of the genus Psammophis in southern Africa (Serpentes: Colubridae). Arnoldia 8 (12): 1-29
  • Broadley, D.G. 1991. The Herpetofauna of Northern Mwinilunga Distr., Northw. Zambia. Arnoldia Zimbabwe 9 (37): 519-538
  • Broadley, D.G. 1994. A collection of snakes from eastern Sudan, with the description of a new species of Telescopus Wagler, 1830 (Reptilia: Ophidia). Journal of African Zoology 108 (2): 201-208.
  • Broadley, D.G. 1998. The reptilian fauna of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). In: Schmidt, K.P. and Noble, G.K., Contributions to the Herpetology of the Belgian Congo... [reprint of the 1919 and 1923 papers]. SSAR Facsimile reprints in Herpetology, 780 pp.
  • Chifundera, K. 1990. Snakes of Zaire and their bites. Afr. Stud. Monogr. (Kyoto) 10(3): 137-157.
  • Chirio, L. & Lebreton, M. 2007. Atlas des reptiles du Cameroun. MNHN, IRD, Paris 688 pp.
  • Cimatti, E. 2006. African Jewels: Tanzania on foot. Reptilia (GB) (46): 65-70 - get paper here
  • Haan, Cornelius C. de; Alexandre Cluchier 2006. Chemical marking behaviour in the psammophiine snakes Malpolon monspessulanus and Psammophis phillipsi. Herpetologia Bonnensis II: 211-212
  • Hallowell, E. 1844. Description of new species of African reptiles. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad. 1844: 169-172 - get paper here
  • Hallowell,E. 1854. Remarks on the geographical distribution of reptiles, with descriptions of several species supposed to be new, and corrections of former papers. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad. 1854: 98-105 - get paper here
  • Hallowell,E. 1857. Notes of a collection of reptiles from the Gaboon country, West Africa, recently presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, by Dr. Herny A. Ford. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 9: 48-72 - get paper here
  • Hoogmoed, M.S. 1979. Herpetologische waarnemingen in Ghana [part 1 - introduction] Lacerta 37 (10-11): 164-168 - get paper here
  • Hoogmoed, M.S. 1980. Herpetologische waarnemingen in Ghana [part 7]. Lacerta 38 (9): 88-95 - get paper here
  • Hughes, B. 1999. Critical review of a revision of Psammophis (Linnaeus 1758) (Serpentes, Reptilia) by Frank Brandstätter. African Journal of Herpetology 48 (1-2): 63-70 - get paper here
  • Hughes, Barry and Eduardo Wade 2004. Is Psammophis sibilans occidentalis Werner, 1919 a junior synonym of P. phillipsi (Hallowell, 1844)? Herpetozoa 16 (3/4):127-132 - get paper here
  • Jackson, Kate 2008. MEAN AND LOWLY THINGS - Snakes, Science, and Survival in the Congo. Harvard University Press, 336 pp.
  • Jackson, Kate; Ange-Ghislain Zassi-Boulou, Lis-Bethy Mavoungou, and Serge Pangou 2007. Amphibians and Reptiles of the LacTélé Community Reserve, Likouala Region, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). Herp. Cons. Biol. 2 (2): 75-86
  • JACOBSEN, N.H.G. 2009. A contribution to the herpetofauna of the Passendro Area, Central African Republic. Afr. Herp News (47): 2-20
  • Leaché, Adam D.; Mark-Oliver Rödel, Charles W. Linkem, Raul E. Diaz, Annika<br />Hillers, and Matthe 2006. Biodiversity in a forest island: reptiles and amphibians of the Togo Hills, Kyabobo National Park, Ghana Amphibian and Reptile Conservation 4 (1): 22-45 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1938. On a collection of reptiles and amphibians from Liberia. Proc. New England Zool. Club 17: 49-74
  • Luiselli, Luca; Godfrey C. Akani; Francesco M. Angelici; Edem A. Eniang; Linda Ude; Edoardo Politano 2004. Local distribution, habitat use, and diet of two supposed 'species' of the Psammophis 'phillipsi' complex (Serpentes: Colubridae), sympatric in southern Nigeria. Amphibia-Reptilia 25 (4): 415-423 - get paper here
  • Padial, J. M. 2006. COMMENTED DISTRIBUTIONAL LIST OF THE REPTILES OF MAURITANIA (WEST AFRICA). Graellsia, 62(2): 159-178
  • Pauwels, O.S.G. & Vande weghe, J.P. 2008. Les reptiles du Gabon. Smithsonian Institution, Washington: 272 pp.
  • Pauwels, O.S.G.; David, P. 2008. Miscellanea Herpetologica Gabonica II. Hamadryad 32 (1): 19 – 24
  • Pauwels, O.S.G.; William R. Branch and Marius Burger 2004. REPTILES OF LOANGO NATIONAL PARK, OGOOUÉ-MARITIME PROVINCE, SOUTH-WESTERN GABON. Hamadryad 29(1): 115 – 127
  • Peters,W. 1882. Naturwissenschaftliche Reise nach Mossambique auf Befehl seiner Majestät es Königs Friedrich Wilhelm IV. in den Jahren 1842 bis 1848 ausgefeführt von Wilhelm C. Peters. Zoologie III. Amphibien. Berlin (Reimer), 191pp.
  • Phelps, Tony 2002. A study of the Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with particular reference to long-term-refugia. Herpetological Bulletin (80):7-19
  • Razzetti, E. & Msuya, C.A. 2002. Field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Arusha National Park (Tanzania). Publ. Ed. Negri Istituto, Oikos, Varese, 84 pp.
  • Segniagbeto G. H., Trape J. F., David P., Ohler A., Dubois A. & Glitho I. A. 2011. The snake fauna of Togo: systematics, distribution and biogeography, with remarks on selected taxonomic problems. Zoosystema 33 (3): 325-360. DOI: 10.5252/z2011n3a4 - get paper here
  • Sternfeld,R. 1908. Die Schlangenfauna von Kamerun. Mitt. zool. Mus. Berlin 3 (4): 397-432
  • Taylor, Edward H.;Weyer, Dora 1958. Report on a collection of amphibians and reptiles from Harbel, Republic of Liberia Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 38 (14): 1191-1229 - get paper here
  • Trape, J.-F. & Mane, Y. 2006. Guide des serpents d’Afrique occidentale. Savane et désert. [Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger]. IRD Editions, Paris, 226 pp.
  • Trape, J.F. & R. ROUX-ESTÈVE 1995. Les serpents du Congo: liste commentée et clé de détermination. Journal of African Zoology 109 (1): 31-50
  • Ullenbruch, K.; Grell, O.; Böhme, W. 2010. Reptiles from southern Benin, West Africa, with the description of a new Hemidactylus (Gekkonidae), and a country-wide checklist. Bonn Zool. Bull. 57 (1): 31-54 - get paper here
  • Wagner, Philipp; Jörn Köhler; Andreas Schmitz; Wolfgang Böhme 2008. The biogeographical assignment of a west Kenyan rain forest remnant: further evidence from analysis of its reptile fauna. Journal of Biogeography 35: 1349–1361
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hughes and Wade 2004
BARRY HUGHES & EDUARDO WADE. Is Psammophis sibilans occidentalis WERNER, 1919 a junior synonym of R phillipsi (HALLOWELL, 1844)? HERPETOZOA 16 (3/4): 127-132. Wien, 2004