Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Mon May 07, 2018 2:42 pm

A friend of mine sent to me this picture, of a snake he has found in his garden, in the hills of Oltrepo' Pavese (Pavia, Northern Italy).

It happened to me in the past to find in the same hills yellow striped longissima, but the cases were not so common: especially the cases of specimens so well striped to resemble a Pantherophis obsoletus quadrivittatus!
I remember a DOR striped specimen when I was a child (it seemed really a quadrivittata!) and then I've found a total of 4-5 well striped specimens in all my life...
This specimen, photographed by my friend Max, is so well striped that a picture on the Forum is really worth it.


Rocca2.jpg
Picture taken from my friend Max
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Re: Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Ilian Velikov » Mon May 07, 2018 4:41 pm

Interesting individual, indeed. I know it's outside the distribution/overlap area with lineatus but is it possible that it is a lineatus (it's hard to see the eye) or a hybrid? I have pretty much no knowledge about the interaction between these two species in Italy...
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Re: Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Mon May 07, 2018 8:21 pm

No, Ilian: it has nothing to do with Z.lineatus.
Pavia is very far from southern Italy (Oltrepò Pavese are the hills 70 kms in the south of Milan), and the stripes in lineatus (which is actually VERY different from longissimus in many ways - size, colours, markings, baby markings, and so on...), if present, are all of the same width, while in longissimus the two central stripes are, "usually", broader than the two lateral ones...
Striped specimens in longissimus occur, in fact, almost "everywhere": viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2665
(I can't see any longer the pictures of Paul Ascain... Why???)
But stunning yellow striped specimens are rather rare, and very beautiful: I've seen some of them in my life, all in the province of Pavia or Alessandria, but unfortunately I had in many cases no camera with me... (most facts happened long time ago, well before the smartphone era...!)

P.S. In other words: the presence (or absence) of the stripes has nothing to do with the species: you can find Z.lineatus specimens without stripes (take a look on the web) or Z.longissimus specimens with well marked stripes ;)
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Re: Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Paul Aiscan » Mon May 07, 2018 8:57 pm

Ruggero Morimando wrote:No, Ilian: it has nothing to do with Z.lineatus.
Pavia is very far from southern Italy (Oltrepò Pavese are the hills 70 kms in the south of Milan), and the stripes in lineatus (which is actually VERY different from longissimus in many ways - size, colours, markings, baby markings, and so on...) are all of the same width, while in longissimus the two central stripes are, "usually", broader than the two lateral ones...
Striped specimens in longissimus occur, in fact, almost "everywhere": https://fieldherping.eu/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=2665
(I can't see any longer the pictures of Paul Ascain... Why???)
But stunning yellow striped specimens are rather rare, and very beautiful: I've seen some of them in my life, all in the province of Pavia or Alessandria, but unfortunately I had in many cases no camera with me... (most facts happened long time ago, well before the smartphone era...!)


The images are gone due to photobuckets new policies, nevertheless I have uploaded one of the images on my second flickr account:

ImageZamenis longissimus by Lennart Aiscan, auf Flickr

Ive seen a similarly striped individual that also lacks the white dots, that longissimuss usually has, in Slovenia this spring but sadly I did not have my camera with me aswell.
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Re: Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Mon May 07, 2018 9:12 pm

Thanks Paul!

One of the few I could photograph: a "golden" striped male of the 80's (if I remember well). Oltrepò Pavese: found on a road in summer, during light rain... ;)

Nizza.jpg
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Re: Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Ilian Velikov » Tue May 08, 2018 9:56 am

Ruggero Morimando wrote:No, Ilian: it has nothing to do with Z.lineatus.


Sure, if you say so. As I said I have no clue about lineatus and longissimus in Italy.

However, without saying that this individual has anything to do with lineatus, I'll tease you about you ID features for lineatus ;) You are saying the two species are "VERY" different and then list the features you think make them different - "size, colours, markings, baby markings and so on..." but then you go ahead and explain that "the presence (or absence) of the stripes has nothing to do with the species: you can find Z.lineatus specimens without stripes (take a look on the web) or Z.longissimus specimens with well marked stripes". And I know for a fact that the two species could have different shades of colurs from light yellow-brown to black (in longissimus). So basically from all the features you listed only "size" would be reliable because obviously colours and markings are very variable ;) From studying photos it seems to me that the most reliable and/or consistent feature are those red eyes in lineatus. To summerize I would NOT say these two species are "VERY" different because excluding the (variable) colours they have pretty much identical pholidosis, body and head shape and structure, scale shape and texture, etc. It's similar to the two Malpolon species - the same snake coloured a bit differently. For me an example of closely related species that are similar but at the same time very different would be N. natrix and N. tessellata.

And don't take all this too seriously, I'm just bored at work :lol:
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Re: Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Ruggero Morimando » Tue May 08, 2018 10:24 am

Ok Ilian, they are not "so" different, but they are different... :lol:

It's well shown in the book "A monograph of the colubrid snakes of the genus Elaphe, Fitzinger" by Schulz.
Zamenis lineatus in Sicily (by Melo's experiences) are just a little bigger than the situlas, and like situlas they have red eyes... :ugeek:
Zamenis longissimus are "beasts" that can attain 225 cm in total length, with brown eyes... Very different!!! :lol: ;)
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Re: Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Ilian Velikov » Tue May 08, 2018 11:08 am

Ruggero Morimando wrote:Ok Ilian, they are not "so" different, but they are different...

It's well shown in the book "A monograph of the colubrid snakes of the genus Elaphe, Fitzinger" by Schulz.
Zamenis lineatus in Sicily (by Melo's experiences) are just a little bigger than the situlas, and like situlas they have red eyes...
Zamenis longissimus are "beasts" that can attain 225 cm in total length, with brown eyes... Very different!!!


Agreed! ;)
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Re: Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Tue May 08, 2018 12:08 pm

Base colour variation is much more limited in lineatus, imho - nearly all pale brown.
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Re: Striped Zamenis longissimus from northern Italy

Postby Ilian Velikov » Tue May 08, 2018 4:11 pm

Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:Base colour variation is much more limited in lineatus, imho - nearly all pale brown.

True...I thought about it while I was writing my post.
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