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 The origin of "Taiwan" Naja atra

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Steven Krüger
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PostSubject: The origin of "Taiwan" Naja atra   Mon 31 Aug - 3:23

Hello together,

I would like to ask whether there is someone who knows a bit more about the exact origin of the bright colored "Taiwan" Naja atra available in europe.

Naja atra in Taiwans nature are mostly looking like the snakes which are sold as "China-locality" in europe --> black/dark with/without white bands. On the other hand pictures of chinese pet traders show also very bright animals looking pretty much the same than "Formosa" atras keeped in europe.

Is there a certain region in Taiwan where bright colored Naja atra are more common? I couldn´t find a single picture of a Naja atra in Taiwan looking like the "Taiwan" atras keeped here. Is there a proof that these snakes really originate from Taiwan?

Best regards,

Steven

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Peter Zürcher
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PostSubject: Re: The origin of "Taiwan" Naja atra   Mon 31 Aug - 15:01

There's no absolute final proof.
I've been one of the first breeders (or the very first one at all?) breeding this light phase with aberrant hood pattern. I purchased 2 juveniles 19 years ago and was told by the seller that they came with a shipment of reptiles from Taiwan.
Meanwhile every light colored atra, no matter where it actually comes from, is labeled as Taiwan atra.
Actually different colour forms do not always depend on geographical distribution, there are light coloured specimens in China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
At least different colouring of the ventral side (black or white/creamish) is reported in scientific papers for Taiwanese atras, and these differences depend on geographical distribution in Taiwan.
Just one interesting case of how confusion is made:
https://www.google.at/search?q=cobra+taiwan&biw=1017&bih=533&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMIhsuHz9rSxwIVrinbCh2m2g9a#imgrc=86jXS2ugLBViVM%3A
That's a light coloured Naja atra from Vietnam (origin prooved), male of a pair living in my collection.
Some people stole the picture from my website and tagged the snake as Taiwan atra.
and another one:
https://www.google.at/search?q=cobra+taiwan&biw=1017&bih=533&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAWoVChMIhsuHz9rSxwIVrinbCh2m2g9a#tbm=isch&tbs=rimg%3ACfOo10troCwVIjhSXhcTQKYQWm-OjQ0-_1NsH0b_13IBKPQ83cLhvlkgOw2ijo-Ll-D1S7lO3DeR6lR6_1SDZzUIZF-FioSCVJeFxNAphBaEWbzjwqlZs51KhIJb46NDT782wcRZvOPCqVmznUqEgnRv_1cgEo9DzRGfs_1EQ4CC7MSoSCdwuG-WSA7DaEU072hsyOa5cKhIJKOj4uX4PVLsRXPiCMXUDy5YqEgmU7cN5HqVHrxGcaxoHDUxCRyoSCdINnNQhkX4WEWn76l0ci7dS&q=cobra%20taiwan&imgrc=0b_3IBKPQ8123M%3A
Formosa Island Cobra.....LOL
That will tell us that the snake comes from the island of Formosa/Taiwan, and it should be a Naja kaouthia.
Never heard about kaouthia from Taiwan, did you?

Additionally, a widely used common name for Naja atra is Formosa Island Cobra. Not easy to understand, when we take in account that the terra tipica of the species is Chusan (Zhoushan), China.

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PostSubject: Re: The origin of "Taiwan" Naja atra   Mon 31 Aug - 20:34

Hello Peter,

thank you very much for your reply.

Yes, unfortunatley there are many "experts" in the www, spreading and labeling Naja atra pictures without having any clue what they actually can see there.

I think I have read the paper if you mean this one (Li et al 2007 / very interessting by the way):

http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Shou_Hsien_Li/publication/225123388_Ventral_coloration_differentiation_and_mitochondrial_sequences_of_the_Chinese_Cobra_%28Naja_atra%29_in_Taiwan/links/0f31753a3f129e1c56000000.pdf

The central mountain range of Taiwan divides populations with exclusively (100% of collected specimens) dark/black ventral colorations in the east from animals with mostly white, but also speckled ventral colorations in the west and southern part of the island.

It also says that the dorsal coloration of the black-ventraled eastern population is mostly black or very dark whereas the white- or speckled-bellied animals from the west and south dorsally often are brighter colorated in different shades of brown.

The paper suggests an cryptic adaptation of Naja atra to the dark soils of eastern Taiwan (originated from metamorphic rocks) and the brown and red soils of the west and south (originated from sedimentary rocks) to prevent confrontations with the major cobra predator in Taiwan, the crested serpent eagle (Spilornis cheela).

So i think it`s unlikely that the "Taiwan" atras available in europe originate from the east of Taiwan.
If they are a very bright version of the white-bellied and dorsally "in a shade of brown" -colored specimens (as described in the paper), it should be more likley that they originate from the west or south of the island.

While China and Vietnam have an exchange of wildcaught animals for the international animal trade (you can see species endemic to Vietnam regulary on chinese (Hong Kong) exporter lists), I can´t imagine the exchange between China and Taiwan is that big because of the political tensions between both republics. So if the animals you got really came with an Taiwan shipment, I think the chances are good that they really originate from the island.

Sadly there is no comparable paper dealing with chinese and vietnamese Naja atra.
Would be interesting to know whether the different colorations in this countrys also correlate to the coloration of the soil.

Best regards,

Steven



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Emil Herrgård
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PostSubject: Re: The origin of "Taiwan" Naja atra   Thu 21 Apr - 1:54

I have seen some label there Naja atra with "Taiwan hell" but after that there has been alot of different saying that its a location, morph or just the name of a colour?

I know there isent a location, but would you say its a morph, colour or is it just bogus for a atra with brighter colour?

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