Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus Mocquard, 1894
This species is known to occur along the length of the eastern rainforest belt of Madagascar, from Masoala in the north to Andohahela in the south.
Morphology & Colouration:
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is among the largest members of the genus Pseudoxyrhopus, reaching lengths of up to one metre. It is characterised by 25 dorsal scale rows at midbody, a character it shares with only two other congeners, P. microps and P. ankafinaensis.
The colouration of P. tritaeniatus is striking and unique in Madagascar, reminding somewhat of Oreocryptophis porphyraceus coxi. The snake is typically red, with four or five black dorsal stripes.
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is a nocturnal, terrestrial snake. It is known to eat rodents, but its diet may consist of other mammals, small reptiles, and possibly fish and birds if it can get them. During the day, it is known to seek shelter under rotten wood.
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, due to its wide distribution inside well protected areas.
Systematics and Taxonomy:
Pseudoxyrhopus tritaeniatus is unmistakable. It is not currently clear which species are its closest relatives, but it is quite possible that P. microps is among them, given its similarities in scale counts, size, and overall appearance.
First photo by Sara Ruane, second by leopardcat, third by Bernard Dupont.
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