The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

2021 Impact Factor from Clarivate for the Herpetological Journal is 1.194, an increase of 0.332 from 2020.

Volume 22, Number 2, April 2012 Volume 22, Number 2, April 2012

pdf 01. Editorial: Forensic Science and Herpetology


Open Access

pp. 71-72
Authors: Baker, Barry W.; Cooper, John E. & Cooper, Margaret



pdf 02. A genetic characterization of CITES-listed Iranian tortoises (Testudo graeca) through the sequencing of topotypic samples and a 19th century holotype


Open Access

pp. 73-78
Authors: Parham, James F.; Stuart, Bryan L.; Danilov, Igor G. & Ananjeva, Natalia B.

Abstract: The Testudo graeca complex is a CITES-listed group of taxa (species or subspecies) that is under threat from over-harvesting for the Western pet and Asian food trade. Taxonomically, T. graeca populations are in a state of flux. Middle Eastern T. graeca in particular are very poorly known because of a lack of adequate sampling, especially in Iran. Two recent studies generated mitochondrial sequence data from Iran using non-overlapping mitochondrial (mt) markers from samples from localities with largely non-overlapping geographical distributions. By generating new sequence data from key Iranian specimens, this study allows for a more comprehensive appraisal of mt phylogeography. Using historic DNA methods, we provide mtDNA sequence data from a 19th century holotype (T. zarudnyi Nikolsky, 1896) along with new data from two recently collected topotypes of other putatively valid taxa (T. buxtoni Boulenger, 1921; Testudo perses Perälä, 2002). The new data are used to assess the taxonomic assignments of previously published mtDNA sequences, reinforce the signal of considerable admixture among mt lineages in northwest Iran, establish a reference database for forensic studies of trade specimens and identify areas for future sampling.


pdf 03. Digital near-infrared photography as a tool in forensic snake skin identification


Open Access

pp. 79-82
Authors: Baker, Barry W.; Reinholz, Andrew D. & Espinoza, Edgard O.

Abstract: This project demonstrates that near-infrared (NIR) imaging with an alternate light source (ALS) and digital photography are useful tools for revealing and documenting original dorsal skin patterns found on dyed snake leather products in the wildlife trade. We used an Omnichrome Spectrum 9000+ ALS at NIR wavelengths of 700 nm to reveal dorsal patterns on a tanned and dyed reticulated python skin (Python reticulatus) submitted for forensic analysis. Under NIR imaging, this pattern was easily photographed using a Fujifilm Finepix IS-Pro digital camera designed specifically for forensic ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) photography. These methods have great potential for species identification based on highly modified animal products (such as dyed snake leather), thus contributing to CITES enforcement efforts.


pdf 04. Over-exploitation and illegal trade of reptiles in Indonesia


Open Access

pp. 83-89
Authors: Nijman, Vincent; Shepherd, Chris R.; Mumpuni & Sanders, Kate L.

Abstract: We report on the commercial trade in three reptile species harvested for different purposes in western Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan) for international markets: (1) Tokay geckos, Gekko gecko, traded for medicinal uses, (2) Javan filesnakes, Acrochordus javanicus, harvested for skins, and (3) Asiatic softshell turtles, Amyda cartilaginea, harvested for meat; each species is also exploited for the pet trade, but to a lesser extent. All three species are harvested from wild populations. None of these species are protected by Indonesian law, but there is a national harvest and export quota system in place to prevent overexploitation. For each species, we collected data from catchers, middlemen and exporters on harvest volumes, catching locales, turn-over and prices, and compared these figures with the quota allocated by the Indonesian authorities. The trade in G. gecko from Central and East Java (3 traders, 2006) amounts to around 1.2 million individuals annually, greatly exceeding the national quota of 50,000 G. gecko for the entire year and representing a monetary value for exporters of around one million USD / year. The annual trade in A. javanicus (in five cities in East and South Kalimantan, and North Sumatra, Riau (central Sumatra) and South Sumatra, 2005–6) was estimated at around 300,000 individuals from Kalimantan and 30,000 from Sumatra, exceeding the national quota of 200,000 individuals / year and representing a monetary value for exporters of at least three million USD / year. The trade in A. cartilaginea was monitored in three cities in North Sumatra and Riau in 1999: 200– 450,000 individuals were traded in 1998 and 1999, greatly exceeding the national quota of 10,000, with a monetary value for exporters in excess of ten million USD / year. We conclude that implementation of wildlife trade regulations by and large are not abided by many reptile traders and are not sufficiently enforced by the Indonesian authorities. We further note that the quota-setting process rarely involves non-detriment findings based on reliable biological information. In order for reptile trade to be sustainable in Indonesia, it is paramount that non-detriment findings are undertaken and existing regulations are sufficiently enforced.


pdf 05. The estimation of post-mortem interval (PMI) in reptiles and amphibians: Current knowledge and needs


Open Access

pp. 91-96
Authors: Cooper, John E.

Abstract: Studies on post-mortem interval (PMI or time since death estimations) in reptiles and amphibians have been sparse. Some limited information exists but this has usually emanated from the work of veterinarians and biologists and is often restricted to individual case reports or small samples. As a result, there is little that can be used reliably in forensic cases and investigators often have to depend on data from mammalian and avian studies. Work on fish, mainly directed towards promoting food hygiene, may or may not be relevant. Reptiles and amphibians present a range of challenges in terms of accurately assessing changes due to autolysis and decomposition, owing to their high variability in morphology and lifestyle. In particular, there are effects due to ectothermy, the different anatomical features of these two groups of vertebrates, the marked variation in body size of diverse taxa of reptiles and amphibians, and seasonal fluctuations in subcutaneous and internal fat content. Eggs, embryos and fetuses present particular challenges and the presence of a larval stage in amphibians is a further complication. Many basic questions remain unanswered. Specific research is needed, and this should involve both amateur and professional herpetologists. Ways in which useful information may be collated include the keeping of properly recorded accounts of changes in dead reptiles and amphibians, especially those kept in captivity or which can be carefully monitored, such as road-kills. Experimental studies are also needed, carried out in collaboration with for example pathologists.


pdf 06. Reproductive biology of the neotropical rattlesnake Crotalus durissus from northeastern Brazil: a test of phylogenetic conservatism of reproductive patterns


Open Access

pp. 97-104
Authors: Barros, Verônica Alberto; Sueiro, Leticia Ruiz & Almeida-Santos, Selma Maria

Abstract: We studied reproductive patterns in neotropical rattlesnakes (Crotalus durissus) from areas with different climatic conditions. The timing of female reproductive events (vitellogenesis, sperm storage and parturition) was identical in both regions, therefore we assume it to be phylogenetically conserved. However, size at maturation in both sexes and male reproductive cycles (timing of spermatogenesis and testicular regression) was markedly different between study areas, suggesting that these reproductive characteristics widely differ across the species' range.


pdf 07. Significant but not diagnostic: Differentiation through morphology and calls in the Amazonian frogs Allobates nidicola and A. masniger


Open Access

pp. 105-114
Authors: Tsuji-Nishikido, Bruno M.; Kaefer, Igor L.; de Freitas, Francisco C.; Menin, Marcelo & Lima, Albertina P.

Abstract: Acoustic parameters often usefully supplement the classic morphological approaches used to discriminate between similar species of frogs, and thus provide better assessments about their taxonomy at the species level. Allobates nidicola and A. masniger are known only from their respective type localities in Brazilian Amazonia, and the two species share all the available qualitative diagnostic traits. This study describes and compares a set of quantitative morphometric (external measurements) and acoustic (temporal and spectral parameters) characters of these species in a sampling design that included their type localities, in order to assess whether they are phenotypically distinguishable. The advertisement call of A. masniger is described here for the first time. Both acoustic (including temporal and spectral properties) and morphometric characters overlapped with those found in A. nidicola. The two species differed statistically in acoustic and morphometric characters when we compared between individuals from their type localities, and also when assuming that they are allopatric by the transposition of the Madeira River, the main biogeographic barrier in the study area. However, multivariate analyses failed to prove unambiguous distributional boundaries of these species based on the analysed phenotypic traits. Therefore, further lines of evidence - such as behavioural, developmental and molecular data - are required in order to detect diagnostic characters and thus clarify the taxonomic status of these phenotypically similar species.


pdf 08. Characteristics of the burrows of Slater's skink, Liopholis slateri


Open Access

pp. 115-121
Authors: Fenner, Aaron L.; Pavey, Chris R. & Bull, C. Michael

Abstract: Slater's skink, Liopholis slateri, is an endangered, burrow dwelling scincid, confined to the desert river floodplains of central Australia. This species has undergone a significant population decline over the past 40 years probably due to a loss of suitable habitat for burrow construction caused by changes in land use, the invasion of exotic weeds and altered fire regimes. In this paper we describe the characteristics of natural burrows and their physical association with other environmental features. Lizards were found to construct relatively complex, multi-entranced (up to 10 entrances) burrow systems in mounds of soil, ranging from 4.5–33 cm in height and 3.12–10.36 m basal circumference, that had formed under shrubs ranging from 0.42–3.22 m in height. We also found that the temperature inside one burrow was substantially lower during the hottest part of the day, and showed substantially less daily temperature variation than experienced outside of the burrow. We found no evidence that lizards had a preferred compass direction for orientating their burrow openings. This study provides baseline data to enable the development of artificial burrow systems for use in future habitat restoration projects, possible translocations and captive breeding programmes.


pdf 09. A new species of Cnemidophorus (Squamata, Teiidae) from the South American Chaco


Open Access

pp. 123-131
Authors: Cabrera, Mario R.

Abstract: Comprising one million square kilometres, the Chaco biome is one of the largest open formations of South America, and part of a biogeographic diagonal in loose continuity with the Cerrado to the north, and the Patagonian Monte to the south. Until recently only one species of Cnemidophorus was recognized in the ocellifer group (C. ocellifer), but in the last decade several new species have been described to Caatingas and Cerrado. In this paper a new species of Cnemidophorus, previously regarded as the southernmost population of C. ocellifer, is described. Analyses of external morphology revealed that a number of traits known to be taxonomically informative differ from other species of the genus. The new species is bisexual, and distinguished from all other taxa of Cnemidophorus by the following character states: 75–98 granular dorsal scales across midbody; 184–212 dorsal scales along vertebral line; 15–19 femoral pores in total; 25–31 lamellae under the fourth toe; two rows of enlarged prebrachial plates; two rows of scales along the inferoposterior half of the calf of males bearing erected thorn-like borders; 23–26 scales around the tail on the fifth complete postcloacal ring; 5 superciliaries; frontonasal scale subrhombical, wider than long; striped pattern on body and tail with unfading of white stripes in adults, and vertebral stripe absent. The range of the new species in Paraguay and Argentina strongly suggests it is endemic to the Chaco biome. Its presence in the Bolivian Chaco is expected.


pdf 10. Advertisement call of the closely related species Scinax aromothyella Faivovich 2005 and S. berthae (Barrio 1962), with comments on the complex calls in the S. catharinae groups


Open Access

pp. 133-137
Authors: Pereyra, Martín O.; Borteiro, Claudio; Baldo, Diego; Kolenc, Francisco & Conte, Carlos E.

Abstract: We compare the advertisement calls of Scinax aromothyella and S. berthae, two closely related Neotropical hylid frogs of the S. catharinae group. We studied several individuals from different localities in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The call parameters analyzed did not allow the discrimination between the two species. Like in other species of the S. catharinae group, the advertisement calls are complex, consisting of short notes with overlapping pulses; an additional trilled note is frequently present, interspersed between the short ones. This complex call structure is common in the S. catharinae group, whereas it is only exceptionally reported in other taxa of the S. perpusillus group and the S. ruber clade. The advertisement call in this group is a candidate target for future studies addressing social and environmental factors affecting call structure.


Download Access:

The latest 8 issues can be downloaded when logged in with a Herpetological Journal subscription membership.

Individual articles can be purchased for download.

Older issues and occasional Open Access articles are available for public download


For further information and submission guidelines please see our Journal Instructions to Authors

pdfBHS Ethics Policy


Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

Aligning with this change, it is now no longer possible to purchase a subscription that includes a print copy of the HJ.  All members who have existing HJ print subscriptions that remain active as at end June 2020 will receive the full four 2020 print editions.  New subscribers or renewals after this time will only have option to subscribe to the online only subscription package.  Subscription pricing has been amended to reflect the content changes.