Thursday, May 21, 2009

Common Sand Boa | Eryx conicus

Labels: Rough-scaled Sand Boa, Rough-tailed Sand Boa

Binomial name: Eryx conicus
Common name: Common Sand Boa

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Boidae
Genus: Eryx
Species: E.conicus


Distinguishing Features: Short, thick-bodied; keeled scales; very rough tail; prominent, blotched pattern.

Average Length: 50 cm; At Birth: 12.5 cm; Maximum: 1 m (female).

Description: The overall colour of the Common Sand Boa varies from yellowish-white to dark brown, with irregular spots of reddish-brown to black forming an uneven chain down the back. They are short snakes with a very rough tail and a square nose. Seemingly, they resemble the Russells Viper; the spots of the latter however are even and round.

Distribution: They are common throughout India on the plains and low hills but rare or almost absent in most parts of Bengal and Assam.

Habitat: They thrive in sandy soil, rat burrows, brick piles, and rocky areas are favoured.

Habits: Common Sand Boas are mainly nocturnal, and hunt after dark for fresh rodent burrows, with head and neck out of a hole, for a passing rodent. The Common Sand Boas typically hide the head beneath the body when provoked. Though less of a digger than the Red Sand Boa, this snake also prefers sandy soils for effortless burrowing.

Young: Females give birth to 6 to 8 living young’s during the period from May to June. The young are bright replicas of their parents, and somewhat resemble the Saw scaled vipers.

Food: The adults munch on rats, lizards, birds, frogs and toads.

Status: Though effective rodent controllers, Common Sand Boas have been extensively killed for their skins, which are called ‘Baby Python’ by the dealers.

Remarks: In some parts of India it is thoughtlessly believed that the bite or lick of this snake causes leprosy or a similar skin disease. The origin of this story may have been the snake’s spotted skin pattern.

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