Saturday, May 23, 2009

Red Sand Boa | Eryx johnii

Labels: Smooth Sand Boa, Smooth-scaled Sand Boa, Brown Sand Boa, Red Sand Boa, Two-headed Snake, Black Earth Boa

Binomial name: Eryx johnii
Common name: Red Sand Boa

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae
Subfamily: Erycinae
E. johnii


Distinguishing Features: Medium sized, with very blunt tail and head; keeled scales; no definite pattern.

Average Length: 75 cm; At Birth: 22 cm; Maximum: 1 m.

Description: In general the colour of Red Sand Boa varies considerably, from reddish-brown and spectacled-grey or yellowish to black. The thick body is well adapted for burrowing. The Red Sand Boa is one of the oddest looking snakes of India. The shovel-shaped nose and a blunt tail make them appear as if they have been chopped off. This facilitates easy identification of this species. Therefore, they are often called ‘two-headed snakes’ in vernacular languages and are favourites of the snake-charmers.

Distribution: This species is normally found throughout the drier parts of India. Also they are common in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and the North-West. It is a plain’s snake.

Habitat: Red Sand Boa prefers sandy places and often lives in rodent burrows.

Habits: Like Common Sand Boa, Red Sand Boa is also a nocturnal snake. They are docile and unlike Common Sand Boas, will not bite when handled. They will just try to hide the head under their body coils. With the head securely tucked under, the boa’s tail may wave about and distract the tormentor.

Young: The female give birth to 6 to 8 living young around June. The young are distinctly banded.

Food: Red Sand Boa’s follow the same diet and pattern of killing their prey as of Common Sand Boa. This snake feeds on other snakes with fair regularity. They are one of the few snakes that can penetrate the blocked burrows of the Mole Rat.

Status: This snake has been lucky enough to have remained off the skin dealer’s list, and also apparently favoured by the ever increasing desert regions of India.

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