Research Article
Research Article
On the taxonomic validity of Boiga whitakeri Ganesh et al., 2021 with new insights on Boiga dightoni (Boulenger, 1894) (Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae)
expand article infoSurya Narayanan, Sandeep Das§|, Y. Muhammed Anvar#, Frank Tillack¤, Pratyush P. Mohapatra«, David J. Gower»˄, K. P. Rajkumar|, V. Deepak»˅
‡ Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore, India
§ St. Joseph’s College, Thrissur, India
| Zoological Society of London, London, United Kingdom
¶ Aranyakam Nature Foundation, Kochi, India
# State Forest Training Institute, Kollam, India
¤ Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Berlin, Germany
« Indian Museum Campus, Kolkata, India
» The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom
˄ Central University of Kerala, Kerala, India
˅ Senckenberg Dresden, Dresden, Germany
Open Access


Colour polymorphism has been previously reported in several colubrid snakes including Boiga spp. In this paper, we report colour variations within the poorly known southern Indian Boiga dightoni, provide the first molecular data for this species, from two localities (including the type locality) and compare them with data from other congeners. Additionally, we provide detailed dentition and hemipenis descriptions for B. dightoni. Molecular data for B. dightoni show very little difference (0.2–0.4% 16S; 0.9–1.2% cyt b) to the recently described Boiga whitakeri, also from southern India. We have re-examined and present new information on the pholidosis of the type specimens of B. whitakeri and reconsider its taxonomic status. On the basis of molecular data and overlapping morphological characteristics, we argue that Boiga whitakeri and Boiga dightoni are conspecific, and place B. whitakeri under the subjective synonymy of the latter. Furthermore, we show that colour polymorphism in B. dightoni is a gender-independent character and that both colour morphs are found in high as well as low elevations and partly in sympatry. A revised key to the Boiga ceylonensis complex is provided.


Boiga ceylonensis complex, taxonomy, synonymy, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, India


The colubrid snake genus Boiga Fitzinger, 1826 is represented by 37 currently recognised species distributed from the southern Palaearctic and the Oriental region to the northern and eastern coasts of Australasia (Uetz et al. 2022). Of these, eight species viz., Boiga beddomei (Wall, 1909), B. dightoni (Boulenger, 1894), B. thackerayi Giri et al., 2019, B. whitakeri Ganesh et al., 2021, B. forsteni (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854), B. flaviviridis Vogel & Ganesh, 2013, B. nuchalis (Günther, 1875) and B. trigonata (Schneider, 1802) are found in the Western Ghats of peninsular India. Boiga beddomei, B. dightoni, B. thackerayi and B. whitakeri are endemic to the Western Ghats (Ganesh et al. 2021). Among these, Boiga whitakeri is the most recently described species, based on two specimens from the southern Western Ghats (Ganesh et al. 2021). Prior to this, Ganesh et al. (2020) clarified the status of B. ceylonensis and B. beddomei based on morphological data and restricted these taxa to Sri Lanka and India, respectively. Ganesh et al. (2020) speculated that Indian records of B. ceylonensis might actually represent B. thackerayi, which was confirmed subsequently by analysis of molecular data from across the species’ range (Ganesh et al. 2021).

Ganesh et al. (2021) also provided molecular data for the holotype of Boiga whitakeri and all previously unsampled species of the genus Boiga from across peninsular India, except B. dightoni. Boiga dightoni was originally described based on a single female specimen collected from “Pirmed” (now Peermed, Kerala state, India) (Boulenger 1894) and appears to be a rarely encountered snake. Since its description, only a few studies reported the occurrence of this species from different parts of the southern Western Ghats and none so far from the type locality (Inger et al. 1984; Murthy 1984; Kanagavel and Ganesh 2021).

During our recent fieldwork in the southern Western Ghats, we collected two individuals of Boiga sp., one from Peermed and the other from Arippa, Kerala. The specimen from Arippa superficially resembled the holotype of B. whitakeri, in colour and inconspicuous dorsal markings, and the specimen from Peermed resembled the paratype of B. whitakeri in having prominent dorsal bands. We generated molecular and further morphological data for these two individuals and compared them with the types and with non-types of other Boiga spp. from the Western Ghats. In this work, we reassess the taxonomic status of B. whitakeri in light of new data on scale variation, and we report colour polymorphism within Boiga dightoni.

Materials and Methods

Molecular phylogenetics

We generated DNA sequences for two Boiga sp., a specimen (ZSI-CZRC-V-7541) from Peermed, Kerala (9.602710°N, 76.937857°E, 1238 m Above Sea Level (ASL)) approximately 9 km from the type locality of B. dightoni and one more specimen (BNHS 3617) from south of Shencottah gap (Arippa, Kerala, 8.831640°N, 77.038542°E, 195 m ASL) (Fig. 1), and one specimen (BNHS 3618) of Boiga nuchalis (Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, 11.775140°N, 78.214654°E, 1300 m ASL).

Figure 1. 

Updated distribution of Boiga dightoni and B. nuchalis in the Western Ghats and B. nuchalis in peninsular India.

We extracted genomic DNA from liver samples stored in absolute ethanol at –20°C, using the DNeasy (QiagenTM) blood and tissue kit following the manufacturer’s protocol. We amplified partial sequences of two mitochondrial genes, 16S rRNA (16S) and cytochrome b (cyt b). Respective primers for these genes are as follows: 16Sar-L and 16Sbr-H (Palumbi et al. 1991) and CS1L and LTyph2R (Adalsteinsson et al. 2009). PCR conditions were as follows: Fragments of 16S were amplified using an initial denaturation at 95°C for 5 min, followed by 39 cycles of denaturation at 95°C for 45 sec, annealing at 50.4°C for 45 sec and extension at 72°C for 1 min 30 sec. Final extension was at 72°C for 10 min. Fragments of cyt b gene were amplified using an initial denaturation at 95°C for 5 min, followed by 35 cycles of denaturation at 95°C for 45 sec, annealing at 48°C for 45 sec and extension at 72°C for 55 sec. Final extension was at 72°C for 10 min. PCR reactions were carried out in 25 µl reactions containing 11µl of Takara emerald RR310B mastermix, 12 µl of PCR grade H2O, 0.5 µl of each forward and reverse primers and 1µl (60–80 ng) of template DNA. PCR amplifications were carried out in S1000TM Thermal Cycler (Bio-Rad, USA). Amplified PCR products were run on a 2% agarose gel and viewed with an Essential V4 (UVITEC Cambridge, UK) gel documentation system to confirm the PCR amplification. PCR products were purified and Sanger sequenced in both directions at Barcode Biosciences (Bangalore, India) using the same primers that were used for amplification.

Bidirectional sequences were checked manually using CHROMAS ( and aligned using ClustalW with default prior settings implemented in MEGA 7 (Tamura et al. 2011; Kumar et al. 2016). We checked for unexpected stop codons in the protein-coding gene cyt b by translating nucleotide alignments to amino acids in MEGA7 (Kumar et al. 2016). The new sequences generated in this study were concatenated with data for twenty-three other Boiga and three outgroups (Telescopus tripolitanus, T. variegates and Toxicodryas pulverulenta) (Appendix 1).

Maximum Likelihood (ML) analysis was performed using IQ-TREE (Nguyen et al. 2015), implemented in the web server version ( (Trifinopoulos et al. 2016). The IQ-TREE server used Modelfinder (Kalyaanamoorthy et al. 2017) to find the best-fit evolutionary model for each of the four suggested partitions (16S: TIM2+F+I+G4; Cytb position 1: TIM2+F+G4; Cytb position 2: TN+F+I+G4; cyt b position3: TIM3+F+G4). Bayesian (BI) phylogenetic analysis was carried out with MrBayes 3.2 (Ronquist et al. 2012), with default prior settings and implementing the best-fit models and partitioning scheme as determined by Partition Finder V2. (Lanfear et al. 2017) with default settings. The best-fit scheme comprised three partitions, by gene and codon position (16S & cyt b position 1: GTR+I+G; cyt b position 2: TrN+I+G; cyt b position3: TVM+G). Four separate MCMC runs were initiated from random trees and allowed to run for ten million generations, sampling every 1000 generations. Analyses were terminated when the standard deviation of split frequencies was less than 0.005, the first 25% of trees were discarded as “burn-in”, and trees were constructed under the 50% majority consensus rule. Support for internal branches in ML and BI trees was quantified using Ultrafast Bootstrap (1000 pseudoreplicates) and posterior probability, respectively.


We examined 33 specimens of Boiga spp., including Boiga dightoni (n = 9), B. whitakeri (n = 2), B. nuchalis (n = 10), B. thackerayi (n = 4), B. flaviviridis (n = 1) and B. ceylonensis (n = 7) (Appendix 2). Morphological data for B. ranawanei were taken from Samarawickrama et al. (2005).

The numbers of dorsal scale rows are reported for one head length behind the head, at midbody (i.e., at the level of the ventral plate corresponding to half of the total ventral number), and at one head length anterior to the vent respectively. Dorsal scale row reduction formulae were based on Dowling (1951a). Ventral scale counts and hemipenial descriptions follow Dowling (1951b) and Dowling and Savage (1960), respectively. The terminal scute is not included in the number of subcaudals. Values for symmetric head characters are given in left/right order.

The following measurements were taken: snout-vent length (SVL); tail length (TL); head length (HL: distance between posterior edge of last supralabial and tip of the snout); head width (HW: at angle of jaws); head depth (HD: height at the occipital region); Frontal length (FL: at the longest point); frontal width (FW: at the widest point on the anterior region); eye diameter (ED: horizontal diameter); eye to nostril distance (E–N: anterior corner of eye to posterior edge of nostril); eye to snout distance (E-S: anterior corner of eye to tip of snout); frontal to snout (FrSN: anterior end of frontal to tip of snout); inter-orbital distance (IO: measured at the anterior edge of eyes); number of dorsal scale rows (DSR). All linear measurements, except SVL and TL were taken using Mitutoyo dial vernier callipers (to 0.1 mm). SVL and TL were measured using a thread and metal scale (to 1 mm).

Among the specimens checked in this study, the holotype (BNHS 3597) of Boiga whitakeri is in a poor state of preservation and the paratype (BNHS 1863) of this species is also damaged, especially its anterior ventral scales. Thus, the number of ventral scales provided here for the paratype of Boiga whitakeri (BNHS 1863) is not complete Appendix 3C). For the ventrals that are damaged, we counted the adjacent dorsal scale rows assuming that one first-row dorsal corresponds to one ventral here.

Location records for both Boiga dightoni and B. nuchalis used for the map (Fig. 1) are based on the literature and specimens examined during the study (Appendix 4). Additionally, we downloaded research-grade data for both of these species from the citizen science portals, iNaturalist ( and India Biodiversity Portal ( All the records for both species were checked individually wherever we could count the dorsal scales on one side, especially for the records from the southern Western Ghats. Doubtful records or records with poor photographs were not considered for plotting on the mapping and distribution (see also Discussion).

To obtain counts of teeth by a non-invasive procedure, the head of the holotype of Boiga dightoni was subjected to micro-tomographic analysis at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, using a Phoenix nanotomX-ray|s tube. The cone-beam reconstruction was performed using the datos|x-reconstruction software (GE Sensing & Inspection Technologies GMBH phoenix|x-raydatos|x 2.0) and the data were visualised in VGStudio Max 2.2. Teeth (including empty sockets) were counted on all dentigerous bones.

Museum specimen number prefixes

BMNH: The Natural History Museum, London, UK; FMNH: Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, USA; BNHS: Bombay Natural History Society; MCZ: Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, USA; RMNH-BBSR-R: Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhubaneswar, India; ZMB: Museum für Naturkunde (formerly Zoologisches Museum Berlin), Leibniz-Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung, Berlin, Germany; ZSI-CZRC: Zoological Survey of India, Central Zone Regional Centre, Jabalpur, India; ZSI/SRS/S: Zoological Survey of India, Southern Regional Centre, Chennai, India. Museum acronyms follow Sabaj (2020).


Molecular phylogenetics

The inferred phylogenies are broadly congruent with those presented by Ganesh et al. (2021). Boiga ceylonensisis sister to B. dightoni + B. whitakeri with strong support (ML 98, BI 1.0) and this clade is sister to B. nuchalis. Boiga nuchalis from Yercaud (BNHS 3618) is nested with other B. nuchalis from the Western Ghats (Fig. 2). Boiga cf. ranawanei (sensu Ganesh et al. 2021) is sister to B. flaviviridis (a dry zone species found in thorn forests and scrub jungle). The holotype sequence of B. whitakeri is sister to the sample from Arippa (BNHS 3617) with strong and moderate support in BI and ML, respectively (BI 0.98, ML 83) and these two samples are together sister to the B. dightoni from the type locality with strong support (ML 95, BI 1.0) (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. 

ML phylogeny showing relationships of the newly sampled Boiga (in blue) and sequences of other available congeners. ML bootstrap support and BI posterior probability support = />75 or 0.75 is shown at each internal branch. Holotype of B. whitakeri (BNHS 3597) labelled in red. Inset image: head closeups of the respective samples in life or freshly roadkill specimen (BNHS 3617). Outgroups are pruned from this tree.

The uncorrected pairwise genetic distance between the two samples of B. dightoni and the holotype of B. whitakeri, is 0.9–1.2% and 0.2–0.4% in cyt b and 16S, respectively (Table 1). These distances are almost all smaller than intraspecific distances for the other congeners B. beddomei 2.5%, B. flaviviridis 2.2%, B. nuchalis 0.4–2.3% and B. thackerayi 0.6–3.6% in cyt b and B. beddomei 0.8%, B. nuchalis 0% and B. thackerayi 0.2–0.8% in 16S.

Table 1.

Pairwise genetic distances (%) between the Boiga spp. from the Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats and Sri Lanka for both mitochondrial 16S and cyt b genes.

CYT B 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
1 BoigawhitakeriBNHS 3597
2 Boiga dightoni BNHS 3617 1.2
3 Boiga dightoni ZSI-CZRC-V-7541 0.9 1.2
4 Boiga ceylonensis 5.1 5.2 5.0
5 Boiga nuchalis BNHS 3618 5.3 5.3 4.3 6.4
6 Boiga nuchalis CESS_192 5.2 5.3 4.3 6.3 0.4
7 Boiga nuchalis CESS_081 5.7 5.3 4.6 6.0 1.6 1.9
8 Boiga nuchalis CESS_003 5.4 5.9 5.0 6.5 1.6 1.4 2.3
9 Boiga barnesii 13.3 13.2 12.8 14.2 13.6 13.0 13.5 13.2
10 Boiga beddomei CESS_444 8.9 8.6 7.9 9.4 8.7 8.1 8.5 8.5 14.0
11 Boiga beddomei CESS_418 9.3 9.1 8.3 9.4 8.4 7.7 8.3 8.1 13.7 2.4
12 Boiga cf. ranawanei 14.5 15.0 14.8 14.8 15.1 14.3 14.8 14.2 14.8 13.4 13.7
13 Boiga flaviviridis 13.2 13.7 13.3 13.5 14.0 12.9 12.6 13.3 16.1 13.2 13.3 9.3
14 Boiga flaviviridis CESS_529 13.4 13.0 12.6 13.1 13.3 12.9 12.9 13.2 15.7 13.5 13.3 9.1 2.2
15 Boiga thackerayi CESS_271 13.9 14.3 13.7 14.9 13.8 13.2 13.1 13.5 14.5 13.5 13.3 11.1 13.1 12.5
16 Boiga thackerayi CESS_443 13.6 13.8 13.4 14.6 13.7 13.1 13.0 13.4 14.6 13.1 13.1 10.8 12.7 12.2 0.6
17 Boiga thackerayi CESS_292 14.2 14.2 14.1 14.6 14.3 13.6 13.3 14.1 14.6 13.8 14.1 11.1 12.7 12.0 3.6 3.3
18 Boiga thackerayi BNHS_2371 13.6 14.1 13.8 14.6 14.0 13.1 13.0 13.4 14.7 13.1 13.1 10.5 12.5 12.2 0.6 0.0 3.3
16S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
1 BoigawhitakeriBNHS 3597
2 Boiga dightoni BNHS 3617 0.2
3 Boiga dightoni ZSI-CZRC-V-7541 0.4 0.2
4 Boiga ceylonensis 0.8 0.6 0.4
5 Boiga nuchalis CESS_003 0.7 0.9 0.7 1.1
6 Boiga nuchalis CESS_081 0.6 0.8 0.6 1.0 0.0
7 Boiga nuchalis CESS_192 0.6 0.8 0.6 1.0 0.0 0.0
8 Boiga barnesii 4.0 3.7 4.0 4.0 4.6 4.6 4.6
9 Boiga beddomei CESS_418 1.5 1.7 1.9 2.3 1.8 1.7 1.7 3.3
10 Boiga beddomei CESS_444 1.7 1.9 2.1 2.5 2.4 2.3 2.3 3.8 0.8
11 Boiga cf. ranawanei 3.6 3.8 3.6 4.0 3.5 3.4 3.4 4.6 3.1 4.0
12 Boiga flaviviridis CESS_529 2.9 2.7 2.5 2.5 3.1 3.1 3.1 3.8 3.4 3.8 2.7
13 Boiga thackerayi CESS_292 1.9 2.1 2.3 2.3 2.6 2.5 2.5 3.5 2.1 2.5 3.4 2.9
14 Boiga thackerayi CESS_443 2.7 2.5 2.7 2.7 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.1 2.5 2.9 3.6 3.4 0.8
15 Boiga thackerayi CESS_271 2.7 3.1 3.4 3.4 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.8 2.5 2.9 3.4 3.6 0.8 0.2

Morphological comparison of B. dightoni and B. whitakeri

Both specimens of Boiga sp. (ZSI-CZRC-V-7541 and BNHS 3617) collected during this study match well with the holotype of B. dightoni based on scalation data, mainly in having 23 MDSR (also see scale reduction formula for more characters). However, these two specimens differ significantly in scalation from B. whitakeri (based on data provided by Ganesh et al. 2021), despite the strong molecular similarity. MDSRs in B. dightoni are predominantly 23 from the 10th ventral throughout most of the midbody (up to ventrals 123–144) in all of the specimens examined during the study, but the point of reduction from 23 to 21 differs slightly among the specimens examined (see scale reduction formula below). Boiga whitakeri is diagnosed from congeners mainly based on the presence of 19 MDSR as provided in the original description (Ganesh et al. 2021), but we counted 23 rows in the holotype (scale redcution formula & Table 2). Due to the poor state of preservation, we were unable to acquire the complete scale reduction formula for the paratype of B. whitakeri (BNHS 1863) but it has 21 MDSR until the level of the 145th ventral and 19 DSR at the level of the 160th ventral. This matches the dorsal scale reduction range of the sympatric Boiga nuchalis (see scale redcution formula). Furthermore, except for the dorsal scale rows, there is a close similarity in the arrangements of head scalation, ventrals and subcaudals between specimens identified as belonging to these “three” species (Table 2).

Table 2.

Meristic and morphometric data (in mm) for Boiga dightoni and Boiga nuchalis examined in this study.

Species B. dightoni B. dightoni B. dightoni B. dightoni B. dightoni B. dightoni B. dightoni B. nuchalis B. nuchalis B. nuchalis B. nuchalis B. nuchalis B. nuchalis
Voucher BNHS 3617 BNHS 1842 ZSI-CZRC-V-7541 ZSI-CZRC-V-7542 BMNH 1946.1.1.32 FMNH 217699 1940.10.13.19 BNHS 3618 BNHS 3619
Location Arippa, Kerala Palagapandy, Kerala Peermed, Kerala Topslip, Tamil Nadu Travancore Ponmudi, Kerala Kottayam, Kerala Malabar, Western Ghats Malabar, Western Ghats Malabar, Western Ghats Malabar, Western Ghats Yercaud, Tamil Nadu Wayanad, Kerala
Sex Female Unsexed Male Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Juvenile Female Female Female
HL 22.46 21.8 27.9 21.56 26.2 NA 24 20.3 21.2 25.5 12.3 16.64 15.5
HW 13.1 15.8 16.3 13.51 15.8 NA 14.2 10.79 13.9 15.85 7.3 12.65 10.6
HH 8.1 9.1 9.58 9.37 10 NA 9.2 6.7 9.4 10.5 4.5 6.31 5.4
FL 5.3 5.7 6.16 6.2 6 NA 5.83 5.2 5 5.94 3.96 4.22 4.5
FW 4.9 5.4 5.19 5.1 5.6 NA 5.9 4.4 4.1 5.4 2.85 3.45 3.8
FrSN 4.7 5 6.4 4.86 6.5 NA 6.05 5.2 5.15 6.73 2.85 4.2 3.5
E-S 5.8 6.3 7.6 5.7 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA 4.8 4.3
E-N 4.1 3.9 4.5 3.3 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA 3.1 2.7
ED 3.9 4.3 4.6 4.2 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA 3.2 3
IO 7.1 NA 9.3 7.4 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA 5.6 5.1
SVL 824 832 1000 780 935 932 760 740 722 1010 335 586 465
TL 206 92 268 203 234 245 191* 200 181 255* 80 157 120
Bands on body not visible 80 76 80 not visible NA 65 71 85 80 84 98 52 Visible
Bands on tail not visible 18+ 28 not visible not visible NA 10 16 21 25 33 22-26 not visible
Preoculars 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1 1,1
Postoculars 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2 2,2
Supralabials 8,8 8,8 8,8 8,8 8,8 8,8 8,8 8,8 9,8 8,8 8,8 8,8 8,8
Infralabials 11,11 11,11 11,11 11,11 12,11 13,12 12,12 11,11 12,11 11,11 11,11 11,11 11,11
Temporals 2+4/2+3 2+4/2+3 3+4/2+3 3+4/2+4 2+3/2+3 4+4/3+4 3+3/3+3 3+3/3+3 3+4/3+4 2+2/2+3 2+4/2+4 3+4/3+4 3+3/3+4
Preventrals 2 1 2 2 2 3 2 2 2 2 2
Ventrals 246 249 239 239 241 248 229 242 233 240 244 239 230
Subcaudals 76+ 110 103/104 102 99 112 87* 104 95 99* 102 98 100
Anal single single single single single single single single single single single single single
DSR 23:23:17 23:23:17 23:23:17 23:23:17 23:23:17 21/23/15 23:23:17 21:21:15 21:21:15 21:21:15 21:21:15 23:21:15 23:21:15
* indicates an incomplete tail.

Dorsal scale row reduction formulae for some of the Boiga specimens examined in this study presented below. *between ventral 9 and 14 counts are not possible because of the damaged vertebral region. Additionally, there are several reductions and additions of the paravertebral scale row between the corresponding ventrals of 194 to 209. *** dorsal scales damaged and is not possible to find the area of scale reduction:

Boiga dightoni




Boiga dightoni (Boulenger, 1894)

Figs 3, 4, 5, 6, 7; Tables 1, 2

Dipsas dightoni Boulenger 1894, p. 528.

Dipsadomorphus dightoni – Boulenger 1896, p. 69.

Boiga dightoniSmith 1943, p. 567; Murthy 1984, p. 84; Inger et al. 1984, p. 567; Wallach et al. 2014, p. 103; Kanagavel & Ganesh 2021, p. 67, 68, fig. 1,2; Ganesh et al. 2020, p. 314, fig. 7; Ganesh et al. 2021, p. 449–151, 453.

Boiga whitakeri Ganesh, Mallik, Achyuthan, Shanker & Vogel, 2021 p. 453, fig. 3, syn. nov.

Taxonomic comments

A detailed description of the external morphology of the holotype of Boiga dightoni (BMNH 1946.1.1.32) is presented by Ganesh et al. (2020). In this work, we provide scale reduction formula and detailed dentition based on microCT scans for the holotype of Boiga dightoni. In addition, we provide a detailed description of the hemipenis of B. dightoni based on a topotypic specimen (ZSI-CZRC-V-7541).

Based on the morphological data from the two specimens collected during this study, including the specimen from the type locality (Peermed, Kerala) of Boiga dightoni, we confidently identify these two specimens as B. dightoni. Our morphological examination of the types and non-type materials of Boiga whitakeri, B. dightoni and B. nuchalis provide evidence that led us to conclude that the holotype of B. whitakeri is conspecific with B. dightoni. This is consistent with our molecular analyses, in which the holotype of B. whitakeri is nested within the samples (including the topotype) that we identify as B. dightoni. On the other hand, the type series (BMNH–6) and two other specimens of Boiga nuchalis examined here have 21 dorsal scale rows at midbody (Scale reduction formula; Appendix 2). This further confirms that the paratype (BNHS 1863; Appendix 3) of B. whitakeri is rather B. nuchalis. Because the holotype and paratype of B. whitakeri clearly represent two already described species, we relegate Boiga whitakeri Ganesh, Mallik, Achyuthan, Shanker and Vogel, 2021 to the junior subjective synonymy of Dipsas dightoni Boulenger, 1894.


A medium-sized Boiga (greatest TL 1000 mm (male), 935 mm (female)); 229–249 ventrals, 99–112 divided subcaudals; 13/14 teeth on maxilla and 7 on palatine; dorsal scales smooth, 23:23:19 in rows; dorsal scale reduction from 23 to 21 rows occurs between ventrals 123–144 and the reduction from 21 to 19 occurs between ventrals 148–155. Dorsum reddish dun to olive greenish with dorsal light brown to dark bands. Head with dark marking dorsally (rarely absent) and a dark laterocular stripe present.

Colouration in life and preservative

Based on the (live and museum) specimens examined and information available from the literature, we report two different colour morphs in B. dightoni.

Morph 1 (n = 5)

Reddish dun-coloured dorsum with faint reddish bands on the body (rarely absent) with or without distinct dark marking on the head, and ventral scales uniformly creamish white (Figs 3A–B, 4, 6 A–C, G–I, M–O). Holotypes of both B. dightoni and B. whitakeri are of this colour morph with no markings on the body in preservation. However, it might be noted that the recently collected specimen from Arippa (BNHS 3617) had faint markings on the body at the time of collection (3rd February 2022) that disappeared in the preservative (Figs 2, 3C–D, 4, 6 A–C). This also applies to the holotype of B. whitakeri (Fig. 3B), which had markings on the body in life that disappeared in the preservative (Ganesh et al. 2021). A specimen from Aanapara, Kerala reported by Kanagavel and Ganesh (2021) also belongs to this morph, with very faint bands.

Figure 3. 

Representative images of B. dightoni in life. Morph 1: A Uncollected individual from Arippa, Kerala (female), B BNHS 3597 (male); Morph 2: C ZSI-CZRC-V-7541 (male), D uncollected individual from Arippa, Kerala (male).

Figure 4. 

Representative image of B. dightoni Morph 1. AB BMNH 1946.1.1.32 (female), CD BNHS 3617 (female), EF FMNH 217699 (male). Scale bar = 5 cm.

Morph 2 (n = 5)

Olive greenish dorsum with black bands (76–80) on the body, with distinct marks on the head and a postocular stripe that ends shortly behind the fissure of the mouth, and irregular small dark blotches along the paraventral scales (Figs 3C–D, 5, 6D–F, J–L, P–R). The topotypic specimen (ZSI-CZRC-V-7541) of B. dightoni collected during this study is of this morph (Fig. 3C) and we observed several specimens from museum collections of this morph including a specimen (ZSI/SRS/S-73) collected from the Anamalais in Southern India.

Figure 5. 

Representative image of B. dightoni Morph 2. AB ZSI-CZRC-V-7541 (male), CD BNHS 1842 (unknown), EF ZSI-CZRC-V-7542 (male). Scale bar = 5 cm.

Figure 6. 

Head closeup showing colour and pattern in B. dightoni Morph 1: AC BNHS 3617, GI BNHS 3597, MO BMNH 1946.1.1.32; Morph 2: DF ZSI-CZRC-V-7542, JL BNHS 1842 and PR ZSI-CZRC-V-7541. Scale bar = 10 mm.

Based on the specimens examined here, it is also clear that these two colour morphs are not explained by sexual dichromatism because both male and female specimens are known for both morphs. For example, the male specimens BNHS 3597 and ZSI-CZRC-V-7541 and the female specimens BMNH 1946.1.1.32 and BMNH 1940.10.13.19 belong to Morph 1 and 2, respectively. Both the morphs are found in sympatry in at least one location (Arippa, Kerala), so they additionally cannot be explained as purely geographic variation. Furthermore, these colour morphs cannot be currently explained as simple ontogenetic variation, because all the specimens examined here are adults.

Description of hemipenis of ZSI-CZRC-V-7541 (Fig. 7)

The right hemipenis is fully everted and removed in situ for further analysis. The hemipenis is sub-cylindrical and moderately elongate (length: 17.0 mm, maximum width: 5.7 mm), extending to the 7th subcaudal. The sulcus is undivided, bounded by thick walls on both sides, and terminates at the centre of the lobe. It can be differentiated into three zones; the proximal zone is covered with 4–6 rows of spines (~40% of the total length), the middle zone with 5 or 6 rows of spinulate flounces arranged transversely (~35% of the total length), and the distal calyculate area (~25%) with 4 or 5 rows of irregular calyces with papilate edges. The sulcus spermaticus is exposed before entering the calyculate area. There is not much variation in the arrangements of spines and body calyces on sulcate and asulcate sides. The overall structure of the hemipenis of ZSI-CZRC-V-7542 is similar to that described for ZSI-CZRC-V-7541.

Figure 7. 

Hemipenis of Boiga dightoni (Right organ of ZSI-CZRC-V-7541). A sulcate view; B asulcate view; C apex view. Scale bar = 10 mm.

Dentition based on the holotype of B. dightoni (BMNH 1946.1.1.32) (left/right order)

Maxillary bone with 13/14 prediastemal teeth, followed by a distinct diastema that is as long as the socket of the last prediastemal tooth and followed by two distinctly enlarged, grooved and posteriorly bent postdiastemal teeth. Prediastemal teeth increase in size posteriorly, the anterior three distinctly posteriorly hooked, the following with less pronounced curvature. On the left side, prediastemal teeth 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13 missing, maxilla broken behind the diastema. On the right side, prediastemal teeth 2–4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13 and anterior postdiastemal tooth are missing.

Palatine bone with 7/7 posteriorly curved teeth, anterior ones as long as the middle prediastemal teeth, slightly decreasing in size posteriorly. Teeth 1, 5 and 7 are loose, and tooth 3 missing on left side. Teeth 1, 3 and 5 are loose on the right side. Lateral to each palatine tooth is a single replacement tooth at different growth stages. Pterygoid bone with 18/16 posteriorly curved teeth, first one half as long as last palatine tooth, gradually decreasing in size posteriorly, last one minute. Teeth 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14–16 missing on left side, teeth 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 loose, and 11, 13, and 15 missing on right side. The posterior 45% of the pterygoid bone is without teeth.

Mandibular bone with 20/20 posteriorly curved teeth, shorter than maxillary and palatine teeth, gradually decreasing in size posteriorly. Medial to each mandibular tooth is a single replacement tooth in different growth stages. Teeth 1, 3–7, 9, 11, 13, 15–17, and 19 missing, tooth 2 loose on left side, teeth 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19 missing, and tooth 2 loose on right side. Mandibular bone broken behind tooth 13 on left side.


Based on currently available data, Boiga dightoni is widely distributed in the southern Western Ghats (south of the Palghat Gap), at elevations of 9–1258 m (Appendix 4). Murthy (1984) extended the northern range of this species to Topslip in Anamalais. Murthy (1984) reported 23 dorsal scale rows at midbody for the specimen he collected, which is known only for B. dightoni among Western Ghats’ Boiga. The identity of this specimen (ZSI/SRS/S-73) is confirmed by photographs presented by Murthy (1984). With an additional specimen from the same locality (ZSI-CZRC-V-7541), we reconfirm the distribution of B. dightoni in Topslip in the Anamalai hills. The northernmost known distribution of B. dightoni is based on a specimen (BNHS 1842) from Palagapandy in the Nelliyampathy Hills, Kerala, a specimen that was previously (Ganesh et al. 2020) misidentified as B. nuchalis. The southernmost known occurrence of this species is Ponmudi in Kerala (Fig. 1). Thus, B. dightoni is found only south of the Palghat Gap in the Western Ghats. Boiga dightoni in parts of its range is probably sympatric with B. nuchalis and B. thackerayi immediately south of the Palghat Gap, based on distribution data (Fig. 1) and the sequences reported by Ganesh et al. (2021).


Intraspecific colour polymorphism has been reported in several colubrid genera (Pavón-Vázquez et al. 2011; van Rooijen et al. 2011; Cox and Davis Rabosky 2013; Palacios-Aguilar et al. 2022). Within Boiga, colour polymorphism is known in B. forsteni, B. multifasciata (Blyth, 1861), B. multomaculata (Boie, 1827), B. ochracea (Theobald, 1868), B. irregularis (Bechstein, 1802), and B. drapiezii (Boie, 1827) (Mohapatra et al. 2009; Tillack et al. 2021; Weinell et al. 2021). Our results demonstrate that B. dightoni is polymorphic in colouration with no marked sexual dimorphism or obvious ontogenetic or geographic component to this variation.

The holotype of Boiga dightoni (in preservative) is uniform in colour without dorsal markings and this probably led to several misidentifications in the past. Beyond the specimens examined here, it is probable that several individuals of B. dightoni are misidentified as B. nuchalis based on colour pattern. For example, at least two records (, 86841689) identified as B. nuchalis may actually represent B. dightoni. As mentioned above, only a few records of B. dightoni are available in the literature and this might be mainly because of its overall similarity with B. nuchalis, a much more commonly encountered species that partly overlaps in geographic range with the former. It is likely that, at least in some places, these two species are sympatric. Hence, we hereby caution against identifying these species solely based on the colour pattern, especially from the southern Western Ghats where both B. dightoni and B. nuchalis are present. Our results highlight the importance of careful examination of type specimens when describing new, similar and closely related species, especially in the absence of molecular data. Wherever possible, it is also preferable to select well-preserved and undamaged specimens when designating name-bearing types.

During this study, we also examined the type series of Boiga thackerayi. In the original description (Giri et al. 2019), the midbody scales were reported as being disposed in 17 rows for the holotype (BNHS 3569) and paratype (BNHS 3571), and 19 for the other paratype (BNHS 3570). Based on this, Ganesh et al. (2021) used 17–19 midbody scale rows as a character for B. thackerayi in their key. However, our examination reveals that these two individuals (BNHS 3569 and BNHS 3571) also have 19 midbody scale rows (Appendix 5), the same as the other specimen (BNHS 2372). Here, we provide the correct scale reduction formulae for these two specimens (Appendix 5) and update an identification key to the B. ceylonensis complex.

Revised key to the species in the Boiga ceylonensis complex of Western Ghats, India and Sri Lanka, modified from Ganesh et al. (2021)

1a Midbody scale rows 19 2
1b Midbody scale rows 21, temporal scales larger than body scales B. nuchalis
1c Midbody scale rows 23, temporal scales subequal to body scales B. dightoni
2a Dorsum greenish B. flaviviridis
2b Dorsum brownish 3
3a Subcaudals > 110 pairs, preocular 1 B. beddomei
3b Subcaudals > 110 pairs, preocular 2 B. ranawanei
3c Subcaudals < 110 pairs 4
4a Ventrolateral white blotches absent 5
4b Ventrolateral white blotches present 6
5 Crown markings on parietals conspicuous and dark; bands dark, prominent B. ceylonensis
6a Preocular 1; dorsum barred B. thackerayi
6b Preoculars 3; dorsum blotched B. barnesii


We thank the Kerala Forest Department for permits (WL10-636/2021 dated 16/10/2021) and support. BNHS folks, Bivash Pandav (Director, BNHS), Rahul Khot, Saunak Pal, Vithoba Hegde and Omkar Adhikari for their support during the visits to the collections and Abhijit Das (Scientist, WII) for his support. We thank Hopeland for sharing images and locality information for Boiga species from Tamil Nadu. We thank Saunak Pal (Fig. 3B) and Dhruvaraj S (Fig. 3C) for sharing their photographs of Boiga dightoni. We are grateful to Kristin Mahlow (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany) for providing micro-CT scans of Boiga dightoni and other Boiga spp. relevant to this study. SD, MAY and RKP thank PS Easa, Edge team and Benjamin Tapley for all the support and encouragement.

We thank Ashok Captain for his support and advice on Indian snake taxonomy. We thank Dhanu Paran, Vinu J George, Amal Varghese and Akhil KS for their hospitality, Jishnu N, Arun Vijayakumar, Siddharth S, Joju CT, Lal V, Nihal J, Sanjay C, Vignesh B, Nithin D, Ameer K, Santhosh KT, Aravind, Amirtha Balan and Nobin Raja for their support in the field. Patrick Campbell, NHM, London for his support to DV and loans to Frank Tillack. K. A. Subramanian, Office in charge, ZSI Chennai and S. R. Ganesh, Chennai Snake Park Trust for sharing images of the specimen at ZSI, Chennai. SN thanks Kartik Shanker for access to the specimen at CES, Bangalore. SN thanks Aravind NA (Senior Fellow, ATREE) for his support at ATREE. We thank the National Geographic grant (NGS-63816R-19) for the support for fieldwork and museum visits. VD’s contribution was supported in part by the Humboldt fellowship hosted by Uwe Fritz at the Senckenberg Dresden. We thank Saunak Pal and an anonymous reviewer for their comments on the initially submitted version of this manuscript.


  • Adalsteinsson SA, Branch WR, Trape S, Vitt LJ, Hedges SB (2009) Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of snakes of the family Leptotyphlopidae (Reptilia, Squamata). Zootaxa 2244: 1–50.
  • Boulenger GA (1894) Description of a new snake found in Travancore, by Mr. S. Dighton. Pirmaad. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 8: 528.
  • Cox CL, Davis Rabosky AR (2013) Spatial and temporal drivers of phenotypic diversity in polymorphic snakes. The American Naturalist 182: E40–E57.
  • Dowling HG (1951a) A proposed method of expressing scale reductions in snakes. Copeia 1951: 131–134.
  • Dowling HG (1951b) A proposed standard system of counting ventrals in snakes. British Journal of Herpetology 1: 97–99.
  • Dowling HG, Savage JM (1960) A guide to the snake hemipenis: a survey of basic structure and systematic characteristics. Zoologica 45: 17–28.
  • Ganesh SR, Achyuthan NS, Chandramouli SR, Vogel G (2020) Taxonomic revision of the Boiga ceylonensis group (Serpentes: Colubridae): re-examination of type specimens, redefinition of nominate taxa and an updated key. Zootaxa 4779: 301–332.
  • Ganesh SR, Mallik AK, Achyuthan NS, Shanker K, Vogel G (2021) A new species of Boiga (Serpentes: Colubridae) from the Southern Western Ghats of India with a molecular phylogeny and expanded characterisation of related species. Zootaxa 4981: 449–468.
  • Giri VB, Deepak V, Captain A, Pawar S, Tillack F (2019) A new species of Boiga Fitzinger, 1826 (Serpentes: Colubridae) from the northern Western Ghats of India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 116: 1–11.
  • Higgins D, Thompson J, Gibson T, Thompson JD, Higgins DG, Gibson TJ (1994) CLUSTAL W: improving the sensitivity of progressive multiple sequence alignment through sequence weighting, position-specific gap penalties and weight matrix choice. Nucleic Acids Research 22: 4673–4680.
  • Inger RF, Shaffer HB, Koshy M, Bakde R (1984) A report on a collection of amphibians and reptiles from the Ponmudi, Kerala, South India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 81: 406–427.
  • Kalyaanamoorthy S, Minh BQ, Wong TKF, von Haeseler A, Jermiin LS (2017) ModelFinder: Fast model selection for accurate phylogenetic estimates. Nature Methods 14: 587–589.
  • Kanagavel A, Ganesh SR (2021) Recent record of the rare Travancore Catsnake, Boiga dightoni (Boulenger 1894) (Reptilia: Colubridae), from the Ponmudi Hills in the southern Western Ghats, India. Reptiles and Amphibians 28: 67–70.
  • Kumar S, Stecher G, Tamura K (2016) MEGA7: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis version 7.0 for bigger datasets. Molecular Biology and Evolution 33: 1870–1874.
  • Lanfear R, Frandsen PB, Wright AM, Senfeld T, Calcott B (2017) PartitionFinder 2: new methods for selecting partitioned models of evolution for molecular and morphological phylogenetic analyses. Molecular Biology and Evolution 34: 772–773.
  • Mohapatra PP, Das A, Tillack F, Dutta SK (2009) Taxonomy, natural history, and distribution of Boiga forsteni (Duméril, Bibron et Duméril, 1854) (serpentes: Colubridae) from Orissa, India. Russian Journal Herpetology 16: 243–252.
  • Murthy TSN (1984) A record of the rare cat snake, Boiga dightoni (Boulenger) (Serpentes: Colubridae). The Snake 17: 84.
  • Nguyen LT, Schmidt HA, von Haeseler A, Minh BQ (2015) IQ-TREE: A Fast and Effective Stochastic Algorithm for Estimating Maximum-Likelihood Phylogenies. Molecular Biology and Evolution 32: 268–274.
  • Palumbi SR, Martin AP, Romano SL, McMillan WO, Stice L, Grabowski G (1991) The Simple Fool’s Guide to PCR. Version 2. University of Hawaii, Honolulu, 43 pp.
  • Palacios-Aguilar R, Colín-Martínez VH, Hernández-Rubio S, Canseco-Márquez L, Nieto-Montes de Oca A, Ochoa-Ochoa LM (2021) Another case of colour pattern polymorphism in earth snakes of the genus Geophis (Dipsadidae) from southern Mexico. Journal of Natural History 55: 2985–2997.
  • Pavón-Vázquez CJ, García-Vázquez UO, Blancas-Hernández JC, de Oca ANM (2011) A new species of the Geophis sieboldi group (Squamata: Colubridae) exhibiting color pattern polymorphism from Guerrero, Mexico. Herpetologica 67: 332–343.
  • Ronquist F, Teslenko M, Mark VDP, Ayres D, Darling A, Höhna S, Larget B, Liu L, Suchard MA, Huelsenbeck JP (2012) MrBayes 3.2: Efficient Bayesian phylogenetic inference and model choice across a large model space. Systematic Biology 61: 539–542.
  • Russell P (1796) An account of Indian serpents, collected on the Coast of Coromandel; containing descriptions and drawings of each species; together with experiments and remarks on their several poisons. George Nicol, London, vii+91 pp., 46 pls.
  • Samarawickrama VAMPK, Samarawickrama VAP, Wijesena NM, Orlov NL (2005) A new species of genus Boiga (Serpentes: Colubridae: Colubrinae) from Sri Lanka. Russian Journal Herpetology 12: 213–222.
  • Smith MA (1943) The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-Region. Reptilia and Amphibia. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor and Francis, London, 583 pp.
  • Tamura K, Peterson D, Peterson N, Stecher G, Nei M, Kumar S (2011) MEGA 5: Molecular evolutionary genetics analysis using maximum likelihood, evolutionary distance and maximum parsimony methods. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28: 2731–2739.
  • Tillack F, Narayanan S, Deepak V (2021) On the identity, nomenclatural status and authorship of Coluber monticolus Cantor, 1839 (Reptilia: Serpentes). Zootaxa 4990: 134–146.
  • Trifinopoulos J, Nguyen LT, von Haeseler A, Minh BQ (2016) W-IQ-TREE: a fast online phylogenetic tool for maximum likelihood analysis. Nucleic Acids Research 44: 232–235.
  • van Rooijen J, Wood PL, Grismer JL, Grismer LL, Grossmann W (2011) Color pattern dimorphism in the colubrid snake Oligodon purpurascens (Schlegel, 1837) (Reptilia: Squamata). Russian Journal of Herpetology 18: 215–220.
  • Wallach V, Williams KL, Boundy J (2014) Snakes of the World: A catalogue of living and extinct Species. CRC Press,Taylor & Francis Group, London, xxvii + 1209 pp.
  • Weinell JL, Barley AJ, Siler CD, Orlov NL, Ananjeva NB, Oaks JR, Burbrink FT, Brown RM (2021) Phylogenetic relationships and biogeographic range evolution in cat-eyed snakes, Boiga (Serpentes: Colubridae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 192: 169–184.

Appendix 1

Genbank voucher numbers for the samples used in this study. New sequences generated for this study are marked in bold.

Species Voucher no. Location CYT B 16S
Boiga barnesii RAP0452 Sri Lanka KC347469 KC347345
Boiga beddomei CESS 418 Mhadei WLS, Goa MT733292 MT734906
Boiga beddomei CESS 444 Mahabaleswar, Maharashtra, India MT733294 MT734908
Boiga bourreti ZISP 32786 Mang Canh, Kon Plong, Kon Tum, Vietnam MN962356
Boiga ceylonensis RS-Y Sri Lanka KC347467 KC347347
Boiga cf. ranawanei RAP0450 Sri Lanka KC347466 KC347346
Boiga cyanea CHS553 MK201410 MK194064
Boiga cynodon Palawan Islands, Philippines KC010340 AF139566
Boiga dendrophila AF471089
Boiga dightoni BNHS 3597 DevarMalai, Tamil Nadu, India MT733284 MT734897
Boiga dightoni ZSI-CZRC-V-7541 Peermed, Kerala, India OP948298 OP955936
Boiga dightoni BNHS 3617 Arippa, Kerala, India OP948299 OP955937
Boiga drapiezii LSUHC7295 KX660482 KX660210
Boiga flaviviridis Meghamalai, Tamil Nadu, India MN508360
Boiga flaviviridis CESS 529 Horsley hills, Andhra Pradesh, India MT733297 MT734911
Boiga forsteni RAP0540 Sri Lanka KC347468 KC347348
Boiga irregularis FJ710794 AF139551
Boiga jaspidea LSUHC7656 Endau-Rompin, Johor, West Malaysia KX660484 KX660212
Boiga kraepelini CHS115 MK201272 MK193920
Boiga multomaculata CHS760 MK201511 MK194200
Boiga nigriceps LSUHC7020 KX660485 KX660213
Boiga nuchalis BNHS 3618 Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, India OP948300
Boiga nuchalis CESS 003 Coorg, Karnataka, India MT733270 MT734883
Boiga nuchalis CESS 081 Meppadi,Wynad, Kerala, India MT733274 MT734887
Boiga nuchalis CESS 192 Kolli Hills, Tamil Nadu, India MT733282 MT734895
Boiga ochracea CAS215390 Yinpaungtaing Village, Yin Ma Bin Township, Sagaing, Myanmar MN962367
Boiga quincunciata CAS221434 Putao Dist. Myanmar KX660451 KX660177
Boiga schultzei KU 327776 Estrella Falls Park, Estrella, Narra, Palawan,Philippines MN962368
Boiga siamensis LSUHC8502 O’lakmeas, Pursat Province, Cambodia KX660487 KX660215
Boiga thackerayi CESS_ 271 Thadiyandamol, Karnataka, India MT733286 MT734899
Boiga thackerayi BNHS 2371 Koyna, Maharashtra, India MN508359
Boiga thackerayi CESS 292 KalakadMundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India MT733287 MT734900
Boiga thackerayi CESS 443 Mahabaleswar, Maharashtra, India MT733293 MT734907
Boiga trigonata RS-143 Sri Lanka KC347475 KC347349
Boiga westermanni India MG428713 MG428711
Telescopus tripolitanus BEV9377 Mauritania JX315531 MK372141
Telescopus variegatus MK373093 MK372142
Toxicodryas pulverulenta CAS220642 KX660460 KX660187

Appendix 2

List of Boiga specimens examined in this study. Specimens examined for scale reductions are marked in bold.

Boiga dightoni (n = 9)

Morph 1. BMNH 1946.1.1.32 (Holotype), female, SVL: 935 mm, Peermed, Kerala, India; BNHS 3597 (Holotype of B. whitakeri), male, SVL: 500 mm, Devarmalai, Tamil Nadu, India; FMNH 217699, male, SVL: 932 mm, Ponmudi hills, Kerala, India; BNHS 3617, female, SVL: 824 mm, Arippa, Kerala, India

Morph 2. BMNH 1940.10.13.19, female, SVL: 760 mm, Kottayam, Kerala, India; BNHS 1842, SVL: 832 mm; Palakappandi, Nelliyampathy, Kerala, India; ZSI-CZRC-V-7541, male, SVL: 780 mm, Peermed, Kerala, India; ZSI-CZRC-V-7542, male, SVL: 780 mm, Topslip, Anamalais, Tamil Nadu, India; BMNH 1940.10.13.19, female, SVL: 760 mm, Kottayam, Kerala, India; ZSI/SRS/S-73, sex unknown, SVL: 545 mm, Topslip, Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India.

Boiga beddomei (n = 1). BMNH (Lectotype) Female, SVL: 660 mm, Matheran, India.

Boiga ceylonensis (n = 7). BMNH 1946.1.1.29 (Lectotype), sex unknown, SVL: 770 mm, Ceylon; Paralectotypes: BMNH 1946.1.4.78, female, SVL: 250 mm, Ceylon; BMNH 1946.1.4.79, male, SVL: 481 mm, Ceylon; BMNH 1946.1.4.80, female, SVL: 528 mm; BMNH 1945.1.4.71, male, SVL: 507 mm; BMNH 1945.1.4.75, male, SVL: 735 mm, Ceylon; BMNH 1945.1.4.81, female, SVL: 632 mm, Ceylon.

Boiga flaviviridis (n = 1). BMNH 1911.9.8.4 (holotype), sex unknown, SVL: 790 mm, Berhampur, Odisha, India.

Boiga nuchalis (n = 10). BMNH, male, SVL: 1010 mm; BMNH, female, SVL: 722 mm; BMNH, male, SVL: 740 mm; BMNH, juvenile female, SVL: 335 mm, Malabar, Western Ghats, India; BNHS 3618, female, SVL: 586 mm, Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, India; BNHS 3619, female, SVL: 465 mm, Wayanad, Kerala, India; BNHS 1863 (paratype of B. whitakeri), sex unknown, SVL: 677 mm, Pullompara, Kerala; CAS 17247, male, SVl: 257 mm, Anamallai, India; ZMB 6039, female, SVL: 555 mm, Nilgherries (Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India); MCZ 3876, male, SVL: male, Madras, India.

Boiga thackerayi (n = 4). BNHS 3569 (holotype), male, SVL: 870 mm, BNHS 3570 (paratype), female, SVL: 493 mm; BNHS 3571 (paratype), female, SVL: 552 mm, Koyna, Satara, Maharashtra, India; BMNH, male, SVL: 531 mm, Anamalais, India.

Appendix 3

Boiga nuchalis (paratype of “B. whitakeri”, BNHS 1863) showing the dorsal (A), ventral (B) and damaged ventral scales (C).

Appendix 4

Gazetteer of confirmed locality records for Boiga dightoni and B. nuchalis in India. Localities where we verified only images for confirmation are marked with an asterisk.

Species Current locality Latitude Longitude
Boiga nuchalis* Bekkinjaddi, Audala, Karnataka, India 14.73401 74.75821
Boiga nuchalis* Guddekeri, Karnataka, India 13.56631 75.1342
Boiga nuchalis* Honnavar, Karnataka, India 14.27975 74.44393
Boiga nuchalis* Magod Falls, Karnataka, India 14.86487 74.75922
Boiga nuchalis Mavinagudi, Karnataka, India 14.92432 74.82812
Boiga nuchalis* Guddekeri, Karnataka, India 13.56631 75.1342
Boiga nuchalis* Mayfield, Tamil Nadu, India 11.55756 76.43534
Boiga nuchalis* Rockwood Estate, Tamil Nadu, India 11.53503 76.40159
Boiga nuchalis* Hope Estate, Tamil Nadu, India 11.58956 76.06355
Boiga nuchalis* Pilloor, Tamil Nadu, India 11.30443 76.80602
Boiga nuchalis* Adderly Estate, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India 11.35901 76.85699
Boiga nuchalis Kolli hills, Tamil Nadu, India 11.295 78.377
Boiga nuchalis Yercaud, Shervaroys, Tamil Nadu, India 11.83435 78.24079
Boiga nuchalis Sirumalai hills, Tamil Nadu, India 10.20065 77.99901
Boiga nuchalis* Shimoga, Karnataka, India 13.51287 75.14139
Boiga nuchalis* Yevakapadi, Karnataka, India 12.20958 75.64052
Boiga nuchalis Kasargod, Kerala, India 12.49293 75.27597
Boiga nuchalis Coorg, Karnataka, India 12.20958 75.64052
Boiga nuchalis Attakatti, Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India 10.44754 76.9861
Boiga nuchalis Mannarkad, Kerala, India 11.05046 76.47072
Boiga nuchalis Vythiri, Wayanad, Kerala, India 11.51478 76.03951
Boiga nuchalis Siruvani, Tamil Nadu, India 10.987 76.622
Boiga nuchalis Vazhachal, Kerala, India 10.303 76.593
Boiga nuchalis* Chimmini dam road, Kerala, India 10.43104 76.49101
Boiga nuchalis Taliparamba, Kerala, India 12.022472 75.363804
Boiga nuchalis* Kervashe Village, Karnataka, India 13.258421 75.081153
Boiga nuchalis Kalpetta, Wyanad, Kerala, India 11.588 76.1
Boiga nuchalis Pullompara, Kerala, India 10.086 76.511
Boiga nuchalis Iruppu falls, Kerala, India 11.969 75.985
Boiga nuchalis Thadiyendamol, Karnataka, India 12.229 75.623
Boiga nuchalis* Potachipara, Bramagiri, Karnataka, India 12.077 75.805
Boiga nuchalis Forests of west coast of Malabar, Kerala, India 11.545426 75.757901
Boiga dightoni Peermade, Kerala 9.576675 77.03061
Boiga dightoni Aanapara, Ponmudi hills 8.69 77.1
Boiga dightoni Ponmudi, Kerala, India 8.752984 77.12104
Boiga dightoni Devermala, Kerala, India 9.173 77.261
Boiga dightoni Arippa, Kerala, India, Kerala, India 8.832483 77.03245
Boiga dightoni* Coutrallam, Tamil Nadu, India 8.923837 77.25514
Boiga dightoni Kottayam, Kerala, India 9.579248 76.54887
Boiga dightoni Topslip, Tamil Nadu, India 10.46901 76.84185
Boiga dightoni Manampalli, Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India 10.35406 76.87829
Boiga dightoni* Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, India 8.880428 77.28482
Boiga dightoni Palagapandy, Nelliampathy, Kerala, India 10.56112 76.7304

Appendix 5

Scale reduction formula for the two Boiga thackerayi type specimens at BNHS, Mumbai, India.

Appendix 6

Representative images of live B. nuchalis: A Wayanad, Kerala (uncollected), B Attakatti, ATR, Tamil Nadu (uncollected), C Yercaud, Tamil Nadu (BNHS 3618).

login to comment