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Case solved: presence of toxin-secreting oral glands in the lamprophiid snake Mimophis mahfalensis (Grandidier, 1867) from Madagascar


The monotypic Mimophis mahfalensis is an opisthoglyphous snake endemic of Madagascar. The goal of this study is to clarify the presence of toxin-secreting oral glands through a multidisciplinary approach. We thus provide data on the internal anatomy of the head of M. mahfalensis’ and demonstrate the presence of Duvernoy’s glands. Furthermore, we refer to two cases of human bitten by this species and compared this with the reported case of mild envenomation mentioned by Domergue (Arch Inst Pasteur Madagascar 56(1):299–311, 1989). Symptoms included brief slight local pain and minor bleeding.

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We are indebted to the University of Antananarivo, Parc Botanique et Zoologique de Tsimbazaza (PBZT), the Direction des Eaux et Forêts, and the MNP for permission to visit the protected area of Isalo and to conduct research activity (authorization No. 357/10/MEF/SG/DGF/DCB.SAP/SCB of 17.XII.2010). The team of MNP at Ranohira–Isalo was very helpful, especially its director A. Rajaonarivo. The people of Madagascar Institut pour la Conservation des Ecosystèmes Tropicaux (MICET) helped with logistics and assistance. We thank our guide Anicet, our assistant Fetra, N. H. C. Rabibisoa, H. Randrianizahana, T. J. Razafindrabe, J. E. Randrianirina, D. Edmonds, and I. Lau for assistance in the field and useful talks. We also thank the team of the Centre de Microscopie de fluorescence et d'IMagerie numérique (CeMIM) (M. Gèze and M. Dellinger, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle) for allowing us to use the graphics workstation; and G. Tessa for helping with the microphotographs. The work was supported by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, EDGE, Zoological Society of London, Amphibian Specialist Group, Conservation International, Gondwana Conservation and Research, Regione Piemonte, and the Zurich Zoo. Additionally, we thank R. Griffiths and the anonymous reviewers for their comments that greatly improved the manuscript. G. M. Rosa holds a doctoral scholarship from the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (SFRH/BD/69194/2010).

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Correspondence to Gonçalo M. Rosa.

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Communicated by Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa.

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Rosa, G.M., Boistel, R., Campantico, E. et al. Case solved: presence of toxin-secreting oral glands in the lamprophiid snake Mimophis mahfalensis (Grandidier, 1867) from Madagascar. Zoomorphology 133, 417–423 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00435-014-0234-7

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  • Duvernoy’s gland
  • Madagascar
  • Mimophis mahfalensis
  • Opisthoglyph