Banded Racer ( Argyrogena fasciolata Shaw, 1802 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Argyrogena fasciolata (Shaw, 1802)
Regional Names: 
Marathi: 
Dhool Nagin
Gujarati: 
ઘઉંલો
Kannada: 
ಜೋರು ಪೋತ
Photographs: 
Aggressive display of adult by making a coil. Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
Distribution: 
Found in whole of peninsular India from Central-eastern Gujarat to as east as South Bengal (Kolkata, West Bengal) while as north as Uttrakhand. Not found in hills of Western Ghats, Thar desert, north-east region (not found in most of West Bengal also) and Indian Islands. Also found in Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Venom Type: 
N/A
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

In most of the stages of its life it can be identified by checking presence of white bands mainly on anterior half of body. 

Description: 

New born- 15cm.
Average length- 90cm.
Maximum length- 134cm.

Dorsal -
Body long, slender and covered with subequal smooth scales. Two very distinct forms found in life. Juveniles have rich bands white bands guarded by black posteriorly over reddish-brown or grayish-brown or olive dorsal surface. Adults have reddish-brown or brown dorsal with faint or no bands of white color.

Ventral -
Belly color white or yellowish-white in adults, greenish-white in juveniles. Subcaudal scales paired in zig-zag manner.

Head -
Head with pointed and prominently tapered snout; broader than neck. Patternless brown in adults; juveniles have purplish or greenish hue on the top with beautiful markings in the form of white, black and brown patches present on the top. Large eyes have rounded pupil. Tongue color black on fore side and red posteriorly.

Tail -
Smooth scales with fine bands in juveniles and totally absent in adults. Color similar like rest of the dorsal body.

Scalation
Head: 
Snout prominently projects beyond lower lip; rostral broader than height. Supralabial 8 or 9; 4th & 5th in contact with eyes; 5th highest, touches lower anterior temporal; preocular 1; presubocular 1 or absent; loreal 1; postocular 2; temporal 2+2, 2+3 or 3+3. Maxillary teeth 12-14.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 21/23:21/23:15/17 row.
Ventral: 
191-232; angulated laterally.
Sub Caudal: 
77-92; anal divided; paired.
Habitat: 
Distributed in wide range of forests of Indian subcontinent which includes dry and mixed decidious forests, grasslands, scrub forest, semi-deserts, hilly drylands. Found in drier parts of its range mainly around rocky terrain, agricultural and unused scrub plains, gardens, lands having dense vegetation and mounds etc. hides in rodent holes, cracks of walls and rocks, dense bushes, under thick leaf litters, under roots of old trees etc.
Natural History: 
Banded Racer is a diurnal and terrestrial species which can climb up to good heights in search of shelter and prey. Locomotion rather fast in serpentine motion. Behavior alert, active and very quick to respond. On threatening prefers to escape fast. In aggressive mood it inflates much of fore-body and makes a loose coil with head slightly above the ground which gives mock attacks. Bites in chew manner but not in very painful way. Sometimes hide its head under own coil as a defensive response. Oviparous. Female lays up to 10 eggs in dark and narrow places like holes, cracks, under rocks etc. during summer to most of the monsoon. Mating ritual is seen during late monsoon to starting of summer.
Diet: 
Feeds actively on lizards, rodents, frogs, bird chicks etc. by chasing them.
Threats: 
Major threats are killing due to misidentification with venomous snakes like Spectacled Cobra in adult stage or Kraits in juvenile stage. Road kill mortality is regularly seen in all parts of its range. As this species is adapted in modified lands like agricultural fields and gardens, habitat destruction appears not a very serious threat to it for close future.
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