Lycodon rufozonatus

Lycodon rufozonatum is a species of snake in the family Colubridae. The species is native to East Asia. It is medium-sized, nocturnal, and is considered non-venomous. Two subspecies are recognised, one of which, L. r. walli, is restricted to the Ryukyu Archipelago.

Lycodon rufozonatum
Dinodon rufozonatum in China 20130628
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Lycodon
L. rufozonatum
Binomial name
Lycodon rufozonatum
(Cantor, 1842)
  • L. r. rufozonatum (Cantor, 1842)
  • L. r. walli Stejneger, 1907
Synonyms [1]


The subspecific name, walli, is in honor of British herpetologist Frank Wall.[2] Lycodon comes from Greek words lykos (wolf) and odon (tooth).


Lycodon rufozonatum typically grows to a total length (including tail) of around 70 centimetres (28 in), reaching up to 130 cm (51 in) in extreme cases.[3] The head is long and relatively flat, and somewhat separate from the neck. The medium-sized eyes bulge slightly and have vertical pupils. The ventral scales have a strong keel, while the dorsal scales are only faintly keeled; the scale count is typically 17:17:15, but can be up to 21:19:17.[3]

Geographic range

Lycodon rufozonatum is found across a large part of East Asia, from the Korean Peninsula in the north (and extending just into easternmost Russia) to northern Laos and Vietnam in the south; the bulk of its range in found in eastern China.[3] The continental populations are all placed in the nominate subspecies (L. r. rufozonatum); a second subspecies, L. r. walli, is found in the Ryukyu Archipelago of southern Japan.[4]

Behaviour and ecology

Lycodon rufozonatum lives in a wide variety of habitats; it can be found from near sea level to as high as 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), and is most common near river plains.[3] It is usually found on the ground, but is occasionally seen swimming in streams.[3] It is nocturnal, feeding on fish, frogs, lizards, snakes and young birds.[3] D. rufozonatum has a generally mild disposition, curling into a spherical mass with the head hidden when approached. Individuals can, however, be unpredictable, and some will bite readily.[3] There are very few clinical reports on the toxinology of D. rufozonatum bites, but the species appears to be non-venomous.[3] L. rufozonatum can harbour tapeworms of the genus Spirometra, and the consumption of raw meat from D. rufozonatum has led to cases of human sparganosis in Korea and Japan.[5]

Taxonomic history

The species was first described as "Lycodon rufo-zonatus " by Theodore Edward Cantor in an 1842 paper on the fauna of "Chusan" (Zhoushan, China) in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History.[6] Cantor included it among the "innocuous" (not venomous) species, and described it as "Brown, with numerous transversal crimson bands; the abdominal surface pearl-coloured, spotted with black on the tail".[6]

Common names

L. rufozonatum is known by several common names, including "Asian king snake",[7] "banded red snake", "red banded krait", "red banded odd-toothed snake" and "red-banded snake".[3]


  1. ^ Uetz, Peter; Hallermann, Jakob. "Lycodon rufozonatum (Cantor, 1842)". The Reptile Database. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  2. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Dinodon rufozonatus walli, p. 279).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Dinodon rufozonatum". Clinical Toxinology Resources. University of Adelaide. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  4. ^ Ananjeva, Natalia B. (2006). "Red-banded snake Dinodon rufozonatum (Cantor, 1840)". The Reptiles of Northern Eurasia: Taxonomic Diversity, Distribution, Conservation Status. Series faunistica. 47. Pensoft Publishers. p. 141. ISBN 9789546422699.
  5. ^ Cook, Gordon Charles; Zumla, Alimuddin (2009). Manson's Tropical Diseases (22nd ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 1662. ISBN 9781416044703.
  6. ^ a b Cantor, Theodore Edward (1842). "General features of Chusan, with remarks on the flora and fauna of that island". Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 1st series. 9 (59, 60): 361–371, 481–493. doi:10.5962/bhl.title.6704.
  7. ^ Dieckmann,Simon; Norval, Gerrut; Mao, Jean-Jay (2010). "A description of an Asian king snake (Dinodon rufozonatum rufozonatum [Cantor, 1842]) clutch size from central western Taiwan" (PDF). Herpetology Notes. 3: 313–314.

External links


Lycodon is a genus of colubrid snakes, commonly known as wolf snakes. The New Latin name Lycodon is derived from the Greek words λύκος (lykos) meaning wolf and οδόν (odon) meaning tooth, and refers to the fang-like anterior maxillary and mandibular teeth.

Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Islands (琉球諸島, Ryūkyū-shotō), also known as the Nansei Islands (南西諸島, Nansei-shotō, lit. "Southwest Islands") or the Ryukyu Arc (琉球弧, Ryūkyū-ko), are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan: the Ōsumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima Islands (further divided into the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands), with Yonaguni the westernmost. The larger are mostly high islands and the smaller mostly coral. The largest is Okinawa Island.

The climate of the islands ranges from humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) in the north to tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af) in the south. Precipitation is very high and is affected by the rainy season and typhoons. Except the outlying Daitō Islands, the island chain has two major geologic boundaries, the Tokara Strait (between the Tokara and Amami Islands) and the Kerama Gap (between the Okinawa and Miyako Islands). The islands beyond the Tokara Strait are characterized by their coral reefs.

The Ōsumi and Tokara Islands, the northernmost of the islands, fall under the cultural sphere of the Kyushu region of Japan; the people are ethnically Japanese and speak a variation of the Kagoshima dialect of Japanese. The Amami, Okinawa, Miyako, and Yaeyama Islands have a native population collectively called the Ryukyuan people, named for the former Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled them. The varied Ryukyuan languages are traditionally spoken on these islands, and the major islands have their own distinct languages. In modern times, the Japanese language is the primary language of the islands, with the Okinawan Japanese dialect prevalently spoken. The outlying Daitō Islands were uninhabited until the Meiji period, when their development was started mainly by people from the Izu Islands south of Tokyo, with the people there speaking the Hachijō language.

Administratively, the islands are divided into Kagoshima Prefecture (specifically the islands administered by Kagoshima District, Kumage Subprefecture/District, and Ōshima Subprefecture/District) in the north and Okinawa Prefecture in the south, with the divide between the Amami and Okinawa Islands, with the Daitō Islands part of Okinawa Prefecture. The northern (Kagoshima) islands are collectively called the Satsunan Islands, while the southern part of the chain (Okinawa Prefecture) are called the Ryukyu Islands in Chinese.


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