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New species of non-venomous snake recorded in Mizoram

Herpetoreas murlen, locally called lenrul, a new-to-science snake from Mizoram.

Herpetoreas murlen, locally called lenrul, a new-to-science snake from Mizoram. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT


Herpetologists in Mizoram have recorded a new species of non-venomous snake living away from sources of water unlike its six recognised sister-species.

The new-to-science snake named “lenrul”, meaning high-elevation snake in the Mizo language, is the only one of its kind in India found beyond 1,700 metres above the mean sea level.

The snake’s scientific name is Herpetoreas murlen, derived from the place it was found – the 200 sq. km Murlen National Park in Champhai district of Mizoram.

The colubrid (belonging to the Colubridae family) snake, the seventh nominal species in the genus Herpetoreas, has been described in the latest issue of Salamandra, a German journal of herpetology or study of reptiles and amphibians.

The study was authored by Hmar Tlawmte Lalremsanga and Lal Biakzuala of Mizoram University’s Department of Zoology, Amit Kumar Bal of Amity Institute of Forestry and Wildlife, and Gernot Vogel of the Society for South East Asian Herpetology based in Germany’s Heidelberg.

The specimens analysed in this study were obtained during fieldwork carried out between 2018 and 2021 in Mizoram.

“Before lenrul, six species of Herpetoreas had been recognised – four of them in India and two in China. Three of the four in India were recorded from the Northeast and one from northern India,” Mr. Lalremsanga told The Hindu on Tuesday.

“The newly-recorded snake is different from the others (six recognised sister species) because there are no water sources near its micro-habitat. ” Hmar Tlawmte LalremsangaHerpetologist

“The newly-recorded snake is different from the others because there are no water sources near its microhabitat. The other six are found in or along streams, ponds and lakes and up to 1,700 metres above the sea level,” he said.

Found to be genetically closest to Herpetoreas burbrinki, its Chinese cousin, the new species has a dark olive-grey body, randomly-speckled scales with black on the margins, inter-scales speckled sparsely with white and a dorsolateral stripe extending from the neck to the tail.

The 461 mm-long snake’s snout was found to be “modestly long”, nostrils small and eyes “rather large”.

Threatened species

The researchers found the snake in areas dominated by pine trees, canes and a rich variety of orchids. It shared the habitat with at least 18 other types of reptiles

“Given the lack of information on the possible threats, reproductive biology, feeding habits, population structure, distribution range, and other ecological data of the new species, we suggest H. murlen be regarded as a data deficient species under the categorisation of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,” the study said.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2022 11:39:10 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/new-species-of-non-venomous-snake-recorded-in-mizoram/article65422503.ece