Common Sand Boa ( Eryx conicus Schneider, 1801 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Eryx conicus (Schneider, 1801)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Rough-scaled Boa, Rough-scaled Boa
Hindi: 
Mathu, Chitti, Mitti wala saap
Kannada: 
ಮರಳು ಹಾವು
Marathi: 
Durkya ghonas
Malayalam: 
Mannuilipampu, Mannunnipampu, Payyanipampu
Gujarati: 
ભમફોડી, દરઘોઈ
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Found in whole of India excluding North-east states after North-Bengal; also not found in Indian islands. The Easternmost boundary of this species is in West Bengal's Central-southern parts. States- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Puducherry, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, West Bengal.
Venom Type: 
N/A
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

It can be easily identified by its 1) Small head, 2) Thick & robust body, 3) Dorsally marked with irregular patches and 4) Very rough looking thick tail.  

Description: 

Dorsal -
Body short and very thick; highly keeled scales (mainly in head and posterior body) found in all over the body with smoother scales on side dorsal rows. Body full of irregular patches of dark color which are usually continuous. Apart from these, smaller Irregular shaped and discontinuous patches also present on side. Ground color light brown, white or yellow which is always lighter than color of patches.

Ventral -
Belly scales much narrower like typical burrowers. Color generally yellowish-white with or without dark patches. Subcaudal scales unpaired.

Head -
Head small and not very distinct from neck; covered with highly keeled small scales. Underside also covered with small scales and mental groove absent. Eyes small with vertical pupil.

Tail -
Tail very short, thick and covered with highly keeled scales of dry appearance; ends with pointed tip.

Scalation
Head: 
12-14 supralabials; 10-15 scales round the eyes.
Dorsal: 
Keeled scales with 40-55 rows.
Ventral: 
162-196; narrow; anal tripartite or pentapartite (with largest scale in the middle guarded by one or two scales on each side).
Sub Caudal: 
16-24; undivided.
Habitat: 
Habitat includes agricultural lands, gardens, unused lands having sandy soil, deep cracks and rat holes. Hides in cracks, mounds, rat holes, brick piles, rock piles etc.
Natural History: 
Activity nocturnal and burrowing. Can be seen at day time while foraging and preying. Spend most of the life as a burrower. Locomotion very slow and lethargic. Behavior usually non-offensive and try to escape first. Makes a robust coil to hide its head in defence. In aggressive mood it flattens whole body and throw it into open coil with head ready to strike. Unlike its normally slow behavior, it strikes in surprisingly quick way and can give painful bite if successfully get body part of enemy.
Diet: 
Feeds mainly on rodents, small mammals. Also feeds on other snakes, small birds, geckos etc.
Threats: 
General threats includes road kills and killing due to confusion with some venomous species like Viper. Unintentional killing is done during agricultural and other digging activities as it’s a burrower. In some parts of country its consumed for edible use.
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