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Colubrid snakes in the genus Dendrelaphis are distributed, collectively, from Pakistan in the west to the northern and eastern coasts of Australia in the east and south and to southern China to the north. Snakes in this genus are slender and diurnal. They are predominantly arboreal and feed mainly on lizards and amphibians.
Dendrelaphis tristis, as long defined, occurs in Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. However, based on morphological analyses of museum specimens, van Rooijen and Vogel (2008) concluded that this putative taxon in fact includes two distinct species, D. tristis and a revalidated species, Dendrelaphis schokari (originally described as Dipsas schokari). Dendrelaphis tristis is found from Sri Lanka northward through most of India to Myanmar whereas the distribution of D. schokari is restricted to Sri Lanka and southwestern India (Western Ghats). Based on the distributions of D. schokari and D. tristis, van Rooijen and Vogel suggest that D. schokari is probably limited to tropical forest whereas D. tristis may be adapted to relatively dry and open habitats. These authors further speculate that D. schokari may have diverged in isolation on Sri Lanka, with subsequent lowered sea levels during the Pleistocene allowing reciprocal dispersal of D. tristis and D. schokari between Sri Lanka and southern India.
(van Rooijen and Vogel 2008 and references therein)