Indian Snakes


Out of about 2,000 species of snakes found in the world, about 272 occur in India, which range from the 10 cm long worm snake to more than 6 meter long pythons and king cobras. They constitute approximately 10 percent of the total snake species found in the world and 80% of them are non-poisonous. The venomous snakes include only about 58 species and there are only 4 species of snakes that are dangerous to man, namely, Cobra, Krait, Russell’s viper and Saw-scaled viper.


Common Worm Snake (Typhlops braminus  or Rhamphotyphlopsbraminus)

This snake resembles a worm, growing to a maximum length of 12 cm. It is small and worm-like with smooth shiny scales and a blunt head and tail. They are reddish brown or black and superficially look like earthworms. Worm snakes live underground in ant and termite nests. They are also found under logs, moist leaves and humus in wet forest, dry jungle and city gardens.

Indian Rock Python (Python molurus)

Indian Rock Python is found in the estuarine mangrove forest, the arid scrub jungles and the cool dense rain forests. These large, thick bodied snakes have smooth scales and a bright pattern of blotches. Like other pythons are non-venomous. They prey mainly on mice and birds, although jackals, civets, and even wild boar and deer are occasionally eaten. Snake can be 20 feet long and weigh up to 100 kilos. Usually sluggish, they have a peculiar method of locomotion in a straight line, pushing forward with its ribs. Two races, the Indian rock python and the reticulated python are common throughout India. Eggs vary in number and are laid from March-June. The eggs hatch about 58 days after being laid. The oldest python recorded in captivity was 22 year old.

Common Sand Boa (Eryx conicus)

It is a thick and round snake, 1 to 2 feet long. Its tail is very short, sharply tapering, and conical. The head is covered by small scales. It is grey with yellowish-brown blotches on the back forming a sort of irregular chain. Some specimens are of a dark-brown or blackish colour, with irregular grey stripes across the back. The young are more brilliantly coloured. The snake has a projecting snout, with the mouth placed under it. The snout is adapted for burrowing into the ground. Its belly-plates are
narrow. The eyes are very small, the pupil being vertically elliptical and the iris speckled yellow. It burrows and lives in holes, which are not very deep. It is an extremely sluggish snake and is commonly seen in a snake-charmer’s basket. It lives on small mammals like mice and squirrels.

Red Sand Boa (Eryx johnii)

It is a species of snake found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and India.

It can be identified by the presence of a mental groove, a pronounced angular ridge on the muzzle, a blunt tail and costal scales numbering over 53. Food is mainly mammals such as rats, mice and other small rodents which are killed by constriction. Ovoviviparous with up to 14 young born at a time

Common Wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus)

It is a terrestrial slender bodied snake, brown in colour with yellow cross-bars which are obvious near the head and diminishes near the tail. Found in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Seychelles and China. A small slender snake found throughout India. In the hills, it occurs at an elevation of about 2000 mts.

Barred Wolf Snake (Lycodon striatus)

It is a terrestrial slender bodied snake, generally brown in colour with many cross-bars. Found in Sri Lanka, NW India, Pakistan, USSR, S Turkmenistan, W Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Banded Kukri (Oligodon arnensis)

This is a small snake with prominent cross bands on its body. Found all over India and up to an elevation of 200 mts. in the eastern Himalaya.

Striped Keelback (Amaphiesma stolata)

A small to medium-sized snake, this is closely related to and resembles the water snakes and is found all over India and up to an elevation of 2,000 mts. in the hills.

Green Keelback (Macropisthodon plumbicolor)

A medium-sized keel-scaled snake found in the forested regions of India up to an elevation of 1,500 mts.

Checkered Keelback Watersnake (Xenochropis (=Natrix) piscator)

A medium-sized keeled snake found all over India up to an elevation of about 3,000 mts. Brownish coloured with chess board arrangement of spots, grows to a length of one metre. It has two tear-marks just below the eyes. Shows extreme aggression and readily bites anything but the bite is completely harmless. It feeds mainly on small fishes and water frogs. Average length is more than 4 ft. Found near fresh water lakes and paddy fields in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, West Malaysia, China, Taiwan and Indonesia.

Olive Keel-back (Atretium schistosum)

It is a species of snake found in Sri Lanka, India and Nepal. It can be distinguished by a single inter-nasal, 19 costals at mid body and 8 to 9 supra-labials.

It Lives in water or among the surrounding vegetation. Largely diurnal and feeds mainly on frog, fish and crabs. A small to medium-sized snake found in central and peninsular India up to an elevation about 1,000 mts.

Trinket Snake (Elaphe helena)

It is a terrestrial snake. It feeds on frogs, toads, etc. A medium-sized, slender snake found all over India up to an elevation of about 4,000 mts. in the Himalayas.

Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosus)

It is a terrestrial snake. The Rat snake can grow up to 11 feet in length. Colours varied due to different climatic conditions and change in habitats. The Rat snake has black tear marks just below the labial. They have numerous cross bars near the tail. It is voracious feeder of rats and mice and frogs. Their size and colour are similar to the cobras. Rat snakes are found wherever rats and frogs/toads are prevalent. So, of course, they are often found in rice fields and in human habitation. The colour varies from jet black in the hills to yellowish or brown. The female lays about 8 to 16 eggs and the young start their diet on frogs.

Fasciolated Rat snake or Banded Racer (Argyrogena (=Coluber) fasciolatus)

This harmless, olive-brown snake is beautifully ornamented with black and white cross bars that gradually disappear along the mid body. This can be plucky and aggressive if irritated. It feeds on small mammals and amphibians. It is found throughout India, although it is fairly common southwest India. Little is known about breeding habits. Oviparous, It is found in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Average size is over 1 metre. Anal 2, supra-labials 8, 3rd divided, 4th and 5th touching eye, 5th and 6th highest touching temporal.