Telescopus finkeldeyi, Haacke, 2013

Haacke, Wulf D., 2013, Description of a new Tiger Snake (Colubridae, Telescopus) from south-western Africa, Zootaxa 3737 (3), pp. 280-288 : 281-285

publication ID 10.11646/zootaxa.3737.3.6

publication LSID

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scientific name

Telescopus finkeldeyi

sp. nov.

Telescopus finkeldeyi sp. nov.

Damara Tiger Snake

( Figs. 1–6 View FIGURE 1 View FIGURE 2 View FIGURE 3 View FIGURE 4 View FIGURE 5 View FIGURE 6 )


Telescopus beetzi Buys P. J. & P. J. C. Buys, (1983) : 53, Figure 87 (First published photograph).

Telescopus sp. M. Griffin, 2003:20 .

Telescopus sp. Herrmann, H.W & W. R. Branch, (2012): 8.

Holotype. An adult female ( TM 53542 ), don. J. A. van Rooyen, Dec.1979.

Type locality. Rössing Uranium mine area, Swakomund district (2214Db) Namibia.

Paratypes. Six specimens, collection data same as holotype . TM 50947 , female, don. J.A.van Rooyen, Dec. 1977 . TM 51371 , male, don. J. A. van Rooyen, 14. April 1978 . TM 53259 , juv. male, don. J. A.van Rooyen, June 1979 . TM 53260 , male, don. J. A. van Rooyen, June 1979 . TM 56972 , female, don. T. Collard, Aug. 1983 . TM 57889 , female, don. T. Collard, Oct. 1983 .

Further material. 19 specimens. Namibia: TM 25809 , female, Usakos, Karibib dist. (2115 Dc ), don. to Dr. V. FitzSimons by bartender from a collection kept in local hotel bar (pers. comm.), May 1959 ; TM 35604 , male, Farm Valencia, 42 Windhoek dist. (2316 Ab), don. A. Port, March 1968 ; TM 44125 , female, D.O.R., Arandis Station, Swakopmund dist. (2214 Bd), don. H. Finkeldey, Aug. 1974 ; TM 51908 , female, Ebony Station, Karibib dist. (2215 Ab), don. S. Braine, 04.06.1978 ; TM 52731 , male, between Usakos and Arandis Station, Swakopmund dist. (2215 Aa), don. H. Bachran, 1972 ; TM 52732 , male, btwn Usakos and Arandis Station, Swakopmund dist. (2215 Aa), don. H. Bachran, 1972 ; TM 57890 , juv. female, W of Usakos, Karibib dist. (2115 Cd), don. H. Finkeldey, August 1983 ; TM 84385 , female, Farm Navarre, 383 Khorixas dist. (2015 Ac ), don. M. Barts, Oct. 2002 ; SAM 44781, female, Usakos, Karibib dist. (2115 Dc), no data ; SMWR 8347 , male, Farm Trekkopje, 120 Karibib dist. (2215 Ac), don. E. Erb, no data ; SMWR 9029 , female, Karibib town, (2115 Dd ), D. Schumann, 24. Feb.1997 ; SMWR 9037 , female, Spitzkoppe on Farm Gross Spitzkoppe, 71 Karibib dist. (2115 Cc), D. F. Denardo, 22. March 1998 ; TM 86103 ( V 7176 ), male, 33km SW of Usakos, Farm Eureka (2215 Ab), 99 Karibib dist. , J. Visser, 22. Nov. 2008 ; TM 86104 ( V 7195 ), male, 29km SW of Usakos, Farm Sandamap (2115 Cd), 64 Karibib dist. , J.Visser. 26.Oct. 2008 ; TM 86105 ( V 74040 View Materials ), female, 81km E of Swakopmund, Farm Vergenoeg (2215 Aa), 92 Karibib dist. , J. Visser, 20. Jan.2009 ; TM 86106 ( V 8525 ), male, 41km SW of Usakos, Farm Sukses (2215 Aa), 90 Karibib dist. , J. Visser, 22. Nov. 2008 ; TM86106 ( V 8529 ), male, 36km SW of Usakos, Farm Eureka (2215 Ab), 99 Karibib dist. , J. Visser, 22. Nov. 2008 ; TM 86108 ( V 7392 ) (piece of shed skin and photo, specimen still alive with T. Collard, Swakopmund), 15km W of Usakos, Farm Usakos, 65 Karibib dist. (2115 Cd), J. Visser, 26. Nov. 2008 . Angola: TM 40331 , female, Saco do Giraul, Namibé dist. (1512 Aa ), coll. W. D. Haacke, March 1971 .

Photographic vouchers. 14km E of Orupembe (1812Ad), Opuwo distr., A. Bauer, -.-. 2007; three specimens taken by staff near Langer Heinrich Uranium Mine (2215Cc) via W. Conradie, 22.June 2009.

Diagnosis. A small tiger snake, smaller than the other taxa in southern Africa. Maximum recorded total length - females (SAM 44781), 594+77= 671mm, males (TM86107) 372+87= 459mm; anal undivided (divided in T. s. semiannulatus and T. s. polistictus); midbody scale rows (MSR) 19, (similar in T. s. semuannulatus and a T. s. polystictus) (rarely 20–21) (21 in T.beetzii ). Colour pattern variable: Head brick red to orange, dorsum cream with variable pattern, usually 29 to 45 orangey, clayey to blackish blotches or transverse bars on the body, the nuchal band is usually the most distinct and darkest, while on most specimens the anterior blotches have a black centre which become less prominent posteriorly ( Fig.1 View FIGURE 1 + 3), although they may continue onto the tail, usually there is no indication of black on the tail and even the orange bars are poorly defined and the colour appears in mottled to speckled condition, the sides of the body and tail are marked by irregular orange bars or mottled fields of coloured scales; in contrast to T.beetzii there is usually no dark occipital spot on the crown of the head.

Description of Holotype. TM 53542, adult female. General shape slender and similar to other Telescopus species ( FitzSimons, 1962. Broadley,1983.), total length 481+81= 562 mm; scales smooth and shiny with 210 ventrals, 51 subcaudals and a single anal; dorsal scales obliquely arranged and in 21anterior,19 middle and 15 posterior rows, nasals 2 per nostril, upper labials 9 (3 rd to 5 th entering eye), lower labials 12, loreal 1, 1 preocular, 2 postoculars and a single supraocular per side; eye large, diameter about 2/3 distance from tip of snout, with vertically elliptic pupil. Colour: Faded in preservative, dorsum of head orange to sand colour, body with 39 rounded orange spots with a black centre, the size of the black centres is reducing and fading posteriorly, tail with 12 indistinct orange marks without black centres; irregular pale orange speckles occur laterally below the dorsal spots on body and tail; ventral scales unmarked and ivory coloured; iris with a silvery edge, changing to orangey yellow in the central area.

Variation in paratypes. Males (n=3): ventrals: 201–211 (mean 207); subcaudals: 62–63 (mean 63). Females (n=3): ventrals: 210–211 (mean 211); subcaudals: 48–54 (mean 51). 19 (rarely 20 or 21) scale rows anteriorly,19 scale rows across middle and 15,14, or 13 rows posteriorly; 2 nasal scales per nostril; usually 9 upper labials (10 in one case) per side with 3 rd to 5 th entering orbit; usually 11 (occasionally 9,10 or 12) lower labial scales per side; a single loreal, two postoculars, one preocular and one supraocular per side.

Variation of other material. Males: maximum snout-vent length ( TM 35604 ) 480 mm (tail damaged); maximum total length TM 86107 ( V 8529 ) 459 (372+87) mm; ventrals: 191–210 (mean 203); subcaudals: 55–64 (mean 61); anal scale undivided. Females: maximum total length ( SAM 44781) 671(594+86) mm; ventrals: 201– 221(mean 212); subcaudals: 48–58 (mean 52). Otherwise similar to type series with one specimen with 8 upper labials.

Colouration. Somewhat variable. Head orange to sand colour, body cream, pale-brown to orangey, with brown, reddish brown to orange transverse bars, which on the anterior part of the body may have a dark brown to black centre. The nuchal band tends be the best developed, usually black, as in all subsequent bars the dark centres are reduced and are usually not noticeable any longer from the root of the tail onwards ( Figs 1 View FIGURE 1 , 3 View FIGURE 3 ). Dorsal markings may also be described as a black or dark spot with an orange edge. Occasional specimens may have brown ( Fig. 2 View FIGURE 2 ) to predominantly orange transverse bars with hardly any indication of a dark centre. Ventrum usually unmarked and ivory coloured, occasionally posterior edge of each scale slightly darker. The single specimen from Angola ( Fig. 4 View FIGURE 4 ) is unusual as the basic dorsal pattern consists of reddish brown blotches of which only the first twelve show diminishing black centres.

Distribution. At present known from western central Namibia (Farm Valencia, 2316 Ab, just north of the Tropic of Capricorn and about 200 km inland), northwards along and below the western escarpment, with a single record from southern Angola, just north of Namibé, (previously Mossamedes) (1512Aa) ( Fig. 5 View FIGURE 5 ). A concentration of records exists from the lower Swakop and Kahn Rivers and the vicinity of the main roads from Swakopmund to Usakos (T 0202) and to Karibib (T 0701). Only two records are known from between the Gross Spitzkoppe mountain and the Kunene River, one from Farm Navarre (2015Ac), 175km from the coast, near Khorixas and one from 14 km SE of Orupembe (1812Ad), about 65 km from the coast. The species approaches nearest to the coast (5km) just north of Namibé (previously Mossamedes) (1512Aa) in Angola. This most northern record is from just south of the 15 th degree latitude. Most sites lie in or below the escarpment area extending across the transitional Namib with only a few records from the actual Namib Desert. Sympatry with T. s. polystictus has only been documented on Farm Navarre (2015Cc. Nr. 383 Khorixas district) and Farm Valencia (2316Ab. Nr. 42 Windhoek district).

Habitat. Mainly found in arid savannah ( Fig. 6 View FIGURE 6 ) of the Pro-Namib and into the western escarpment of the north-western Namibian plateau. Northern records from the Kaokoveld and the south-western corner of Angola, occur in stony desert areas.

Etymology. This snake is named in honour of Mr. Helmut Finkeldey who, since he settled in Windhoek in 1950, was called the ‘Snake Man’ as he was always prepared to remove problem snakes and release them where they did not cause concerns. For many years he was the chairman of the Herpetological Section of the Namibian Scientific Society and also served as President of this society. By presenting radio talks, producing a DVD about Namibian snakes and giving public lectures he attempted to develop a better understanding of reptiles. During his 90 th year he realised that younger people should take over these roles, but he still retains his interest in nature, with snakes his specialty.


Royal British Columbia Museum - Herbarium


South African Museum














Telescopus finkeldeyi

Haacke, Wulf D. 2013

Telescopus sp. M. Griffin, 2003:20

Griffin, M. 2003: 20
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