Sunday, August 23, 2009

Common Cat Snake | Boiga trigonata

Labels: Indian Gamma Snake, Common Cat Snake
Scientific name: Boiga trigonata
Common name:
Common Cat Snake

Scientific classification
















B. trigonata


Distinguishing Features: Small to medium-sized; very slender; scales smooth; neck is thin; eyes protruding with flat head and distinct pattern.

Average Length: 65 cm; At Birth: 25 cm; Maximum: 1.25 m (female).

Description: Common Cat Snakes are thin and have a long body with a tail that tapers to a point. Their colour is light-brown or tan with a pattern of zigzag markings. A prominent ‘Y’ mark can be seen on their head. They usually have smooth scales, which are not glossy. Their underside is whitish or tan, which occasionally shows the presence of tiny spots. They are often mistaken for Saw-scaled Vipers. There are 11 species of Cat Snakes in India.

Distribution: They are found throughout India, but mostly on plains. The Himalayan Cat Snake is found up to 3000 m above sea level.

Habitat: In Tamil they are called ‘palm leaf snakes’, as it is found coiled up in the leaves of the Palmyra during the day time. They also like to stay in a cool place, among bushes, in thatched roofs or under the bark of trees.

Habits: Cat Snakes have cat-like protruding eyes and long feathery tongue indicate which indicates that they are nocturnal. They are rear-fanged and have mild venom for paralyzing their prey. Usually they are inoffensive and when disturbed will coil firmly, rearing back and vibrating the tail.

Young: Approximately 7 eggs are laid at a time.

Food: They mainly feed on geckos and other lizards, but also eat mice and small birds.

Status: In many areas South India it can be referred to as a Common Snake, but like other inconspicuous or nocturnal snakes they are hardly ever seen.

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.