Bibron's Coral Snake ( Calliophis bibroni Jan, 1858 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Calliophis bibroni (Jan, 1858)
Regional Names: 
Kannada: 
ಬಿಬ್ರಾನ್ ಹವಳದ ಹಾವು
Photographs: 
Top Body Shot
Distribution: 
South of Palghat Gap in Anaimalai Hills including south of Shencottah (Sengottai) Gap in Agastiyar Hills, as south as Trivendram in Kerala. Agumbe (Shimoga district of Karnataka) is its northern most limit.
Venom Type: 
Neurotoxic
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Known for a wide range of colors (usually vibrant reddish-brown mixed with purplish tint) and patterns of bands or dark purplish-brown color top portion.

Description: 

Average length- 50cm.
Maximum length- 88cm.

Dorsal -
Body moderately slender with subequal smooth scales. Color ad pattern range is very wide in this species and ranges from cherry red to dark purplish-brown. Majority of dorsal scales may be dotted with scarlet red on middle. Often top 9-11 dorsal rows dark purplish brown and gives appearance of striped form with bands on flank. Dark purplish-black asymmetrical bands found from neck to end of the tail, these bands are wider on top, tapers on flank and visible best from lateral view.

Ventral -
Belly bright coral red or pinkish red with large black spots of squarish shape till the end of the tail. Subcaudal scales paired in zig-zag manner.

Head -
Head depressed and blunt with rounded snout; not distinct from neck. Color glossy black on front with orange-white band on parietal which becomes broader on lateral side. Eyes small and entirely black.

Tail -
Very short and thick tail with thick end. Color similar like rest of dorsal body with bands.

Scalation
Head: 
Usually 7 supralabials, rarely 6 or 8 ; 3rd & 4th in contact with eyes; preocular absent; prefrontal in contact with eye and third supralabial; postocular 1; single long temporal on each side, followed by second temporal of smaller size.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 13 rows throughout the body.
Ventral: 
221-229 (Male); 220-227 (229, 234) (Female), anal undivided.
Sub Caudal: 
31-37 (Male) 26-36 (Female); paired.
Habitat: 
Habitat includes hills and plains (0-1220 mtr. asl.) of moist, wet and evergreen forests of Western Ghats. Found in gardens, various plantations; choose thick leaf litters, loose soil, loose roots of plants and rocks to hide.
Natural History: 
Bibron’s Coral is a nocturnal species and rarely seen at daytime. Spend most of its life as a burrower and comes occasionally on ground for foraging and mating. Behavior shy, elusive and usually non-offensive. First try to escape under heavy objects but on molestation it flattens whole body and coil up the tail to show alertness or aggression. No specific information is known about its breeding biology. Oviparous, and female probably lays eggs in deep dark places in and around its micro-habitat.
Diet: 
Feeds mainly on other snakes including venomous ones.
Threats: 
Direct threats includes killing on encounter and road kills. Due to loss of rainforests and plantation of its habitat, its population status may get affected because it feeds on other snakes (Shieldtails, Blind Snakes etc) found in its range and they are also sensitive to climate and habitat disturbance.
Authors & Contributors: