Saturday, June 13, 2009

Slender Coral Snake | Calliophis melanurus

Labels: Indian Coral Snake, Coral Snake, Slender Coral Snake

Binomial name: Calliophis melanurus
Common name: Slender Coral Snake

Scientific classification
















C. melanurus


Distinguishing Features: Small, slender; smooth, shiny scales; blunt, black head; tail black, scarlet and blue.

Average Length: 25-35 cm; Diameter: 5 mm.

Description: Slender Coral Snakes are light brown and to some extent speckled. Their head and neck are black with two prominent yellow spots on top of the head. A shabby black ring is seen at their tail-base and tail-tip. The underside is consistent pinkish-red, bright scarlet at the vent and the underside of tail is bluish. Their heads are blunt and have the same width as the neck. Scales are smooth and faintly glossy. This Slender Coral Snake is one of the 5 Indian Coral Snakes, the other 4 being the hill forest species present in the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas.

Distribution: This species is distributed in most parts of India on the plains, except Central and North-western India.

Habitat: Mostly Slender Coral Snakes are seen in the coastal scrub jungles, under leaves, brick and rubble piles, and sandy patches.

Habits: They are mainly nocturnal snakes, but on rare occasions become active in the early morning hours in the cooler months. They are fine burrowers in sandy soil and can lay motion-less with just their head noticeable. In excitement, they will curl their tails up and wave it, exhibiting their startling underside colours, thus mocking attention from the head.

Young: Not much knowledge is gathered about the reproduction of this snake, except that all Indian Coral Snakes are egg-layers. Few North Indian species have been found laying 6-14 eggs.

Food: They seem to feed on worm snakes.

Status: This species is considered a rare one, as described in the literature. Also, Coral Snakes are forest species and hence their number is reducing due to the declining forest areas in our country.

Venom: Evidently, nothing is known about the venom of these little relatives of Cobra.

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