Eirenis rafsanjanicus,

Akbarpour, Morteza, Rastegar-Pouyani, Nasrullah, Fathinia, Behzad & Rastegar-Pouyani, Eskandar, 2020, A new species of the genus Eirenis Jan, 1863 (Squamata: Colubridae) from Kerman Province in South-central Iran, Zootaxa 4868 (1), pp. 117-128: 121-125

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Eirenis rafsanjanicus

sp. n.

Eirenis rafsanjanicus  sp. n.

( Figs. 5View FIGURE 5 and 6View FIGURE 6)

Holotype. RUZM CE11.1: an adult female collected from Raviz village , 30.36275N 55.42825E, 2266 m a.s.l., Kerman Province, south-central Iran, on 28 July 2018 by Morteza Akbarpour.GoogleMaps 

Paratype. RUZM CE11.2: an adult male collected from Raviz village , 30.3605278N 55.4273611E, 2282 m a.s.l., Kerman Province, southeastern Iran, on 12 April 2019 by Alireza SahebiGoogleMaps  .

Description of the holotype. Slender body; small head, not distinct from the neck; eyes with round pupils; two internasals with a suture between them which is shorter than that between the prefrontals; undivided nasal; frontal longer (3.4 mm) than wide (1.8 mm); supraoculars narrower anteriorly; parietals large, longer than the frontal; one loreal, square-shaped on both right and left sides; one preocular and two postocular(s); subocular absent; 1+2 temporals; 7 supralabials (3 rd and 4 th in contact with the eye); 9 infralabials on each side; a large pair of anterior chin shields, in contact with the first four infralabials and posterior chin shields, but not in contact with mental; posterior pair of chain shields much shorter than anterior pair (2.8 mm vs. 3.7 mm), posterior chin shields separated by a pair of oblique scales; dorsal scales smooth, in 17 rows at midbody; 173 ventrals; anal and subcaudal scales divided, 78 subcaudals.

Morphometric characters. Snout-vent length 280 mm; tail length 93.7 mm; head length 12.8 mm; head width 8.1 mm; and head height 5.1 mm.

Color pattern. The upper surface of the head is uniformly light brown; supralabials and pre- and postoculars with creamy patches. The dorsal body is beige or light brownish grey with transverse parallel black dorsal bands which run regularly from nape to mid-body, changing to longitudinal parallel stripes on the posterior part of the body and on the tail; ventral side of body and head is creamy.

Variation within E. rafsanjanicus  sp. n. Variation of morphometric characters between the holotype and the only paratype are presented in Supplementary Table 1. Paratype has a larger number of ventral and subcaudal scales than holotype (Paratype: 184 ventrals, 84 subcaudals; holotype: 173 ventrals, 78 subcaudals), but the ratio of SVL to TL in the holotype is more than in the paratype (3.2 vs. 2.4). The holotype has two post-ocular scales on each side while the paratype has one post-ocular scale on the right side.

Comparison. Based on the number of dorsal scales at mid-body, the genus Eirenis  is divided into two groups (15 and 17 dorsal scales at mid-body). Eirenis rafsanjanicus  sp. n. with 17 dorsal scales is nested within its congeners having the same character: i.e. E. africanus  , E. aurolineatus  , E. barani  , E. decemlineatus  , E. hakkariensis  , E. levantinus  , E. lineomaculatus  , E. modestus  , E. punctatolineatus  , and E. yassujicus  . So, at this very first stage of comparison, E. rafsanjanicus  sp. n. is easily distinguished from other congeners with 15 dorsals at midbody: E. angusticeps  , E. collaris  , E. coronella  , E. coronelloides  , E. eiselti  , E. kermanensis  , E. mcmahoni  , E. medus  , E. nigrofasciatus  , E. persicus  , E. occidentalis  , E. rothii  , E. rechingeri  , E. thospitis  and E. walteri  . Eirenis rafsanjanicus  sp. n. is closer in meristic characters to E. modestus  than to other congeners (Supplementary Table 1), but the two differ in color pattern. Having imbricate dorsal scales, Eirenis rafsanjanicus  sp. n. has parallel transverse black bands which extend to the tail forming narrow lines on the posterior half of the body, while the dorsal color pattern in E. modestus  is uniform. Dorsal color pattern in E. rafsanjanicus  sp. n. is different from all other congeners with 17 mid-dorsal scales and it is reminiscent of the dorsal pattern in E. kermanensis  . Ventral body pattern in E. rafsanjanicus  sp. n. is uniform like in other congeners having 17 mid-dorsal scales except for E. lineomaculatus  . E. rafsanjanicus  sp. n. has a larger number of both ventrals and subcaudals than E. yassujicus  , E. lineomaculatus  , and E. africanus  and lower number of subcaudals than E. levantinus  , and E. hakkariensis  . Posterior chin-shields in E. modestus  and E. rafsanjanicus  sp. n. are separated by one and two scales, respectively. Separation by a pair of oblique scales distinguished the new species from other congeners. Unlike E. lineomaculatus  , the loreal scale is present in E. rafsanjanicus  sp. n. and in other congeners having 17 mid-dorsal scales.

Habitat. So far, Eirenis rafsanjanicus  sp. n. is known to inhabit mountainous areas in the northwest of Kerman Province. The habitat substrate is composed of clay soil with numerous pebbles and is covered with annual and perennial plants such as Artemisia aucheri  and Eremurus persicus  as dominant species and Amygdalus scoparia  , Astragalus  spp. and Cousinia subpctinata  as accompanying species. Several species of lizards (e.g. Laudakia nupta  , Mesalina watsonana  , and Agamura persica  ) and snakes (e.g. Pseudocerastes persicus  , Echis carinatus  and Spalerosophis diadema  ) occur sympatrically or syntopically with Eirenis rafsanjanicus  sp. n. ( Fig. 7View FIGURE 7).

Distribution. So far, this new species, Eirenis rafsanjanicus  sp. n., is only known from the type locality ( Fig. 1View FIGURE 1).

Etymology. This species is named after Rafsanjan County in Kerman Province, where the holotype and paratype specimens were collected.