New Southern Levant Rat Snake Species of the genus Elaphe Described

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New Southern Levant Rat Snake Species of the genus Elaphe Described

The snake, Elaphe druzei sp. nov has a varied coloration, ranging from blotched black to blotched brown to speckled red.

Because there are no names for the rat snake population from the Levant, the scientists suggest Elaphe druzei, dedicated to the Druze.

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Researchers with the Department of Zoology, Comenius University in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia, The School of Zoology and The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University in Israel, and Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow have described a new species of snake of the genus Elaphe. The snake, Elaphe druzei sp. nov has a varied coloration, ranging from blotched black to blotched brown to speckled red. Males have a longer snout and tail than females as well as larger heads.

Colour and pattern variation in Elaphe druzei sp. nov. (A) adult individual from Mount Hermon (24 April 2015, photography by David David), (B) adult individual in captivity at the Zoological Garden in Naharyia originated from Mt. Hermon (photography by Aviad Bar), (C) adult individual from Mt. Hermon (28 May 2021, photography by David David), (D) adult male from Tel Aviv University Zoological garden originated from Mt. Hermon (21 November 2019, photography by Erez Maza), (E) adult female from Barouk, Kfar Slouan, Lebanon (April 2018) and (F) adult female from Mtein, Zaarour, Lebanon and its natural habitat (May 2022, photographs by Daniel Jablonski).

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Because there are no names for the rat snake population from the Levant Mountains, the scientists suggest Elaphe druzei, which they have dedicated to the Druze, the ethnoreligious group of people from the Levant. These people are found in the mountains of northern Israel, Lebanon and portions of southwestern Syria. The snake is known to inhabit hilly and mountain areas of the southern Anti-Lebanon Mountains and the southern and central Lebanon mountains.


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The area in which the secretive, semi-arboreal snake is known to inhabit is in a politically unstable area, making study of the reptile challenging. It is diurnal and is found in areas rich in vegetation. It has been seen on the ground as well as in shrubs, in trees and near bodies of water. It is rarely found in the Golan region and the researchers say could be threatened by increased land change usage for tourism, military degradation, overpopulation and traffic density and global warming.

the complete paper describing the Southern Levant snake, “A new, rare, small-ranged, and endangered mountain snake of the genus Elaphe from the Southern Levant” can be read on the Scientific Reports website.

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