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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Infraordo: Caenophidia
Superfamilia: Colubroidea

Familia: Colubridae
Subfamilia: Colubrinae
Genus: Gonyosoma
Species (7): G. boulengeri – G. coeruleum – G. frenatum – G. jansenii – G. margaritatum – G. oxycephalum – G. prasinum

Gonyosoma Wagler, 1828: unnumbered page [conserved name]

Type species: Gonyosoma viride Wagler, 1828, by monotypy.
Gender: neuter.
Placed on the Official List of Generic Names in Zoology by Opinion 490 (1957: 181).


Alopecophis Gray, 1849: 247
Type species: Alopecophis chalybeus Gray, 1849, by monotypy.
Aepidea Hallowell, 1861: 488
Type species: Aepidea robusta Hallowell, 1860, by monotypy.
Allophis Peters, 1872: 686
Type species: Allophis (Elaphis) nigricaudus Bleeker, 1858, by monotypy.
Gonyophis Boulenger, 1891: 290 [synonymised by Chen et al. (2014: 537)]
Type species: Gonyosoma margaritatum Peters, 1871, by monotypy.
Rhynchophis Mocquard, 1897: 214 [synonymised by Chen et al. (2014: 537)]
Type species: Rhynchophis boulengeri Mocquard, 1897, by monotypy.
Rhadinophis Vogt, 1922: 140 [synonymised by Chen et al. (2014: 537)]
Type species: Rhadinophis melli Vogt, 1922, by monotypy.
Proboscidophis Fan, 1931: 114 [synonymised by Pope (1935: 276)]
Type species: Proboscidophis versicolor Fan, 1931, by monotypy.

Primary references

Wagler, J.G. 1828-1833. Descriptiones et icones Amphibiorum. Tres partes cum XXXVI tabulis. J.G. Cottae: Monachii, Stuttgartiae et Tubingae. unnumbered text + 36 pls. BHL Reference page.
Gray, J.E. 1849. Description of three new genera and species of snakes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Series 2 4(22): 246–248. BHL Reference page.
Hallowell, E. [1860] 1861. Report upon the Reptilia of the North Pacific Exploring Expedition, under command of Capt. John Rogers, U. S. N. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 12: 480–510. BHL Reference page.
Peters, W. 1872. Über eine neue von Hrn. Dr. A.B. Meyer auf Luzon entdeckte Art von Eidechsen (Lygosoma (Hinulia) leucospilos) und eine von demselben in Nordcelebes gefundene neue Schlangengattung (Allophis nigricaudus). Monatsberichte der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 1872: 684–687. BHL Reference page.
Boulenger, G.A. 1891. On new or little-known Indian and Malayan reptiles and batrachians. Annals and Magazine of Natural History. Series 6 8(46): 288–292. BHL
Mocquard, F. 1897. Notes herpétologiques. Bulletin du Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle 3(6): 211–217. BHL
Vogt, T. 1922. Zur Reptilien- und Amphibienfauna Südchinas. In: Mell, R. (Ed.). Beiträge zur Fauna Sinica. Archiv für Naturgeschichte. Abteilung A 88A(10): 135–146. BHL
Fan, T.-H. 1931. Preliminary report of reptiles from Yaoshan, Kwangsi, China. Bulletin of the Department of Biology, Sun Yatsen University 11: 1–154, 9 pls. Reference page.
Pope, C.H. 1935. The reptiles of China: turtles, crocodilians, snakes, lizards. American Museum of Natural History: New York. lii + 604 pp., 27 pls. BHL Reference page.
International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. 1957. Opinion 490. Action under the Plenary Powers to preserve for use in its accustomed sense the generic name Elaphe Fitzinger, 1833 (Class Reptilia). pp. 179–196 In Hemming, F. (ed.). Opinions and declarations rendered by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature Volume 17, part 12. International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature: London. 452 pp. BHL Reference page.
Chen, X., McKelvy, A.D., Grismer, L.L., Matsui, M., Nishikawa, K. & Burbrink, F.T. 2014. The phylogenetic position and taxonomic status of the Rainbow Tree Snake Gonyophis margaritatus (Peters, 1871) (Squamata: Colubridae). Zootaxa 3881(6): 532–548. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3881.6.3 Paywall Reference page.

Additional references

Chen, X., Lemmon, A.R., Lemmon, E.M., Pyron, R.A. & Burbrink, F.T. 2017. Using phylogenomics to understand the link between biogeographic origins and regional diversification in ratsnakes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 111: 206–218. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2017.03.017 Paywall Reference page.
Liu, S., Hou, M., Lwin, Y.H., Wang, Q.-Y. & Rao, D.-Q. 2021. A new species of Gonyosoma Wagler, 1828 (Serpentes, Colubridae), previously confused with G. prasinum (Blyth, 1854). Evolutionary Systematics 5(1): 129–139. DOI: 10.3897/evolsyst.5.66574 Open access Reference page.


Uetz, P. & Hallermann, J. 2021. Gonyosoma . The Reptile Database. Accessed on 24 June 2021.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Asiatische Spitzkopfnattern
English: Oriental Green Ratsnakes

Gonyosoma is a genus of colubrid snakes.


There are a few distinct morphological characteristics that distinguish Gonyosoma from Elaphe. In scutellation there are 2-3 supralabials that contact the eye, with typically two in G. oxycephalum, and three in G. jansenii. The supralabial at the posterior of the eye is highly arched around the back of the eye. The loreal scale is thin and elongate, and appears stretched between the preocular and the nasal. Other diagnostic features is an elongate left rudimentary lung (70–141 mm), and a distinct hemipenes structure.[1]

These snakes have the ability to laterally compress and inflate the first third of their bodies when threatened. The inflated region is typically recoiled into an S, which is elevated above the horizontal forming a typical striking position. The inflation of the body exposes the black and white diagonal bands of the interstitial skin, which is particularly distinct in G. oxycephalum (Schulz 1996). In combination these adaptations impose a most ominous threat!

The following six species are recognized as being valid.[2]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
Rhynchophis boulengeri (1).jpg Gonyosoma boulengeri (Mocquard, 1897) rhinoceros snake, rhino rat snake, and Vietnamese longnose snake northern Vietnam to southern China
Gonyosoma frenatum (10337297083).jpg Gonyosoma frenatum (Gray, 1853) Rein Snake Northeast India, southern China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Gonyosoma jansenii (Bleeker, 1859) Celebes black-tailed ratsnake Sulawesi in Indonesia
Gonyosoma margaritatum (W. Peters, 1871) rainbow tree snake and royal tree snake Malaysia and Singapore.
Gonyosoma oxycephalum Oslo.JPG Gonyosoma oxycephalum (F. Boie, 1827) arboreal ratsnake, the red-tailed green ratsnake, and the red-tailed racer Southeast Asia.
Rhynchophis prasinus - spécimen adulte - Ménagerie Paris 01.JPG Gonyosoma prasinum (Blyth, 1854) green trinket snake, green bush rat snake or green ratsnake Bangladesh, India (Darjeeling, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Burma (also known as Myanmar), northern Thailand, west Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, China (Yunnan, Guizhou, Hainan) and Philippines.

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Gonyosoma.

The species formerly known as Gonyosoma cantoris and Gonyosoma hodgsoni have been assigned to the genus Othriophis as Othriophis cantoris and Othriophis hodgsoni, respectively.

Schulz, Klaus-Dieter. 1996. A Monograph of the Colubrid Snakes of the Genus Elaphe Fitzinger. Havlickuv Brod, Czech Republic: Koeltz Scientific Books. 439 pp. ISBN 80-901699-8-8.

"Gonyosoma ". The Reptile Database.

Further reading

Wagler J. 1828. Descriptiones et Icones Amphibiorum. Munich, Stuttgart and Tübingen: J.G. Cotta. Plates I-XXXVI + 81 unnumbered pages. (Gonyosoma, new genus, Plate IX + 2 unnumbered pages). (in Latin and German).


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