Xenochrophis flavipunctatus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Natricidae

Scientific Name: Xenochrophis flavipunctatus (Hallowell, 1860)
Common Name(s):
English Yellow-spotted Keelback Water Snake
Taxonomic Notes: This species was formerly placed in the genus Natrix. This species has long been treated as a subspecies of X. piscator. Literature records of this species and X. piscator, which occur in sympatry (Zug et al. 2006, Vogel and David 2006) are confused. The subspecies X. f. schnurrenbergeri is now recognized as a full species (Vogel and David 2006). Additional study of this species complex is warranted, as additional species may exist under the name X. flavipunctatus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2011-08-31
Assessor(s): Stuart, B., Wogan, G. & Grismer, L.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P. & Cox, N.A.
Listed as Least Concern on the basis that, while this snake is threatened or heavily threatened by overexploitation in Vietnam and Cambodia, there are no major threats to this snake in other countries within its wide range, although there may be some localized overharvesting in China. This species will require immediate reassessment if any taxonomic change takes place, as the heavily-exploited Cambodian and Vietnamese populations are likely to warrant listing in a more threatened category if they represent distinct species.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs over a wide geographical range from Myanmar eastward to Taiwan, and southward to Thailand (Vogel and David 2006, Zug et al. 2006). It is absent from Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore (L. Grismer pers. comm. August 2011).
Countries occurrence:
Cambodia; China; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Taiwan, Province of China; Thailand; Viet Nam
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species can be locally abundant, and is very common in paddy fields in China (G. Vogel pers. comm. August 2011). In Cambodia it is abundant around Tonle Sap, but it is rarely caught along the Mekong or in the Cardamom Mountains (T. Neang pers. comm. August 2011). It thrives in wet human-modified habitats, including rice fields. It is less common in Vietnam than in the past as a result of increased pesticide use and overharvesting to support snake farms and pigs, and exploitation for use in snake wine (Q.T. Nguyen pers. comm. August 2011), but across its wide range the overall population is likely to be stable as it occurs very widely and benefits from many forms of habitat modification.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This semi-aquatic species occurs in slow rivers and streams, marshes, swamps, flooded rice fields, ponds, lakes, and ditches. It feeds on fish and frogs.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is traded in reptile shops throughout Vietnam for medicinal purposes (reported as X. piscator in Stuart 2004). This is the most abundant species used in the snake wine industry in Vietnam (Somaweera and Somaweera 2010), particularly in tourist areas (Q.T. Nguyen pers. comm. August 2011). The neck skin is often stretched to resemble a cobra in snakes sold in wine bottles in Vietnam (B.L. Stuart, pers. obs.). This species (reported as X. piscator) is also traded at Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia as food for commercially-farmed crocodiles (Stuart et al. 2000; Brooks et al. 2007a, b). This species accounted for 0.1-5% of all aquatic snakes traded at Tonle Sap (Brooks et al. 2007a, b), and an estimated 0.88 +/- SE 0.05 individuals of this species per 1,000 m2 of gill net/day are captured at Tonle Sap (Brooks et al. 2007a). A large proportion of captured females of this species at Tonle Sap are sexually mature (Brooks et al. 2007a).

He and Peng (1999) investigated the market (as X. piscator) in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province of China, and estimated that the annual sale quantity in that city is about 377.7 tons. They also investigated 22 people who live on catching snakes, and estimated that this species is overexploited in China. However, due to more recent taxonomic changes it is uncertain whether the species involved is true X. piscator, which is not thought to occur in Guangdong, or X. flavipunctatus.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Populations in Vietnam and especially at Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia, may be threatened by overexploitation. The massive scale of the aquatic snake trade at Tonle Sap (Stuart et al. 2000) may threaten the persistence of that subpopulation, and the species is perceived to be declining at this site (Brooks et al 2007a). In the rest of its range there are no apparent threats to this highly adaptable and abundant species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Taxonomic study is needed to clarify species limits of X. flavipunctatus and X. piscator in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. This need is made more acute since this includes the portion of the range where Xenochrophis is commercially traded. Trade at Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia, should be curbed during the breeding season (Brooks et al. 2007a).

Citation: Stuart, B., Wogan, G. & Grismer, L. 2012. Xenochrophis flavipunctatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T192120A2042661. . Downloaded on 19 October 2017.
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