Thursday, August 6, 2009

Royal Snake | Spalerosophis diadema

Labels: Royal Snake, Rajat Bansi
Scientific name: Spalerosophis diadema
Common name: Royal Snake

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Spalerosophis
Species: S. diadema


Distinguishing Features
: Medium to large-sized; keeled scales; young with uniform spots whereas adults with black heads and very irregular black markings.

Average Length: 1.5 m; At Birth: Approximately 25 cm; Maximum: 2 m.

Description: Generally the colour of Royal Snakes varies from yellowish-brown or orange, with irregular black markings down the back, till their jet-black head and neck. Their underside is glossy and rosy-pink. Their dorsal scales are strongly keeled and the body has a prominent sparkling lustre. Royal Snake is the only Indian snake known, whose pattern changes continually as it grows. The young ones are evenly blotched patterns and no black markings.

Distribution: They are restricted to the dry areas of Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh up to 2000 m above sea level.

Habitat: They generally stay in rat holes, rocky areas and crevices. Being an excellent and fast climber, they are also fond in trees and bushes in arid and semi-arid areas.

Habits: They remain active mainly during the day time. Royal Snakes are quite similar to Trinket Snakes but grow larger and are faster in activity and response. They bite infrequently, but coil and make a hissing sound when disturbed.

Young: It is an egg-laying species but their precise number and laying-time is not known.

Food: They primarily eat rodents, but feed on small birds and lizards as well.

Status: Royal Snakes are widespread throughout their range and are significant rodent predators. They wrongly considered as venomous and thus frequently killed. People mistakenly call them “Nag” (Cobra), despite of the obvious difference.

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