Ceylon Cat Snake ( Boiga ceylonensis Günther, 1858 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Boiga ceylonensis (Günther, 1858)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Sri Lankan Cat Snake
Kannada: 
ಸಿಲೋನ್ ಬೆಕ್ಕಿನ ಹಾವು
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
In India its distribution is whole of Western Ghats up to hills of Maharashtra. Also found in Sri Lanka.
Venom Type: 
Neurotoxic
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Externally it looks very close to Beddome's Cat Snake (B. beddomei) and Collard Cat Snake (B. nuchalis) and usually indistinguishable from these two which are sympatric to it in Western Ghats. Morphologically all three species are known for brown or yellowish dorsal marked with blackish markings. B. ceylonensis can be identified by checking 19 mid body rows, comparatively lower number of ventrals (215-235) and subcaudals (95-108).

Description: 

Average length- 90cm.
Maximum length- 132cm.

Dorsal -
Laterally flattened long body. Scales smooth, long shaped and obliquely arranged. Top dosral scales along the vertebra larger than side scales and of hexagonal shape. Dorsal color brown, yellowish or brown mixed with reddish. Black, dark brown or reddish patches or cross lines found from head to tail. These markings are broadest on vertebral region.

Ventral -
Belly color white, yellow or yellowish-brown; usually with blackish or dark brown patches on the outer edge of ventral scales. Subcaudal scales paired in zig-zag manner.

Head -
Head triangular with rounded edge; clearly broader than neck. Top of the head of similar to dorsal color. One black streak runs behind the eye to end of the head. Large eyes with vertical pupil.

Tail -
Long and thin tail typically like other arboreal snakes with pointed tip. Dorsal body patterns continue to tail in faint form.

Scalation
Head: 
Supralabial 8; 4th to 6th in contact with eyes; loreal 1; preocular 1, reaches to upper surface of head; postocular 2 or 3; temporal 3+3 or 3+4. Maxillary teeth 14-20+2.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales arranged obliquely in 19:19:13/15 rows.
Ventral: 
215-235; anal undivided.
Sub Caudal: 
95-108; paired.
Habitat: 
Lives in moderate to high elevations of Western Ghats mainly in evergreen and mixed deciduous forests. Lives in dense vegetation including bushes and trees of hills. Choose tree holes, dense bushes, rocks for roosting and hiding.
Natural History: 
Activity nocturnal and arboreal. Locomotion slow. Behavior shy, elusive and usually calm. On threatening throws half of fore body into loops with head on the top, sometimes jerk or flicker its tail also which is followed by mock attacks to keep distance with threatening object or animal. Reproduction oviparous, female lays up to 10 eggs in dry tree holes, between rocks etc in late winter to summer months. New born individuals seen during late summer to whole monsoon.
Diet: 
Feeds mainly on lizards, birds, rodents, bats, frogs etc.
Threats: 
Threats includes killing due to misidentification with some venomous snake (mostly Pit Vipers). As this species is endemic to hilly rainforests of Indian subcontinent, habitat destruction will affect its population. Road kill mortality is found to be another remarkable threat observed in many parts of its distribution range.
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