Elliot’s Shieldtail ( Uropeltis ellioti Gray, 1858 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Uropeltis ellioti (Gray, 1858)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Elliot's Earth Snake
Kannada: 
ಈಲಿಯಟ್ ಗುರಾಣಿ ಹಾವು
Photographs: 
Common form. Bangalore, Karnataka.
Distribution: 
Considered to be found in most of the major hill ranges (excluding extremely dry ones) of peninsular India including Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, Satpura Hills of Central India. There is report from Chattisgarh which needs examination of specimen to verify species.
Venom Type: 
N/A
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Like all other Shieldtails species level identification of Elliot's Shieldtail is not easy specially in Western Ghats and South India because of presence of many other spcis of same genus. However in many other parts of its range (Central India and Eastern Ghats) it is the only Uropeltid species.

Description: 

Average length- 18cm.
Maximum length- 25cm.

Dorsal -
Body small, slender and covered with glossy smooth scales. Dorsal color ranges from brown to dark chocolate brown with more of less yellow dots. These dots become larger on side and underside.

Ventral -
Belly color not distinct from dorsal but it bears larger yellow patches. Two yellow lines run along the side of the neck, visible from side. A thick band or line exist over the anal which joins with two yellow longitudinal lines reaching toward the tail.

Head -
Head small, not broader than neck, with pointed snout and covered with large shields. Eyes small in the form of dot and covered by a large ocular shield. Color similat to dorsal with no specific markings.

Tail -
Very short, appears sloppy and bears two spines lying side by side on end.

Scalation
Head: 
Portion of rostral visible from above; as long as distance between it and middle of frontal; it separates nasals for more than half of their length. Loreal absent. Eye 1/3 to 1/2 of ocular shield.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 17 rows.
Ventral: 
144-176; anal usually divided.
Sub Caudal: 
5-11; paired.
Habitat: 
Elliot's Shieldtail is a nocturnal and burrowing species. Can be seen at day time also. Lives in moderate elevations of hills of peninsular India. Lives in moist hill forests having loose soil and thick leaf litters. Hides in insect holes, under leaf litters, burrows, loose soil, root of plants etc.
Natural History: 
Locomotion slow and worm like. Behavior non-offensive, shy and always try to dig a temperory burrow in loose soil with its tough snout. No particular behavior is seen as a aggressive response. Viviparous. Directly gives birth to young individuals.
Diet: 
Feeds majorly on earthworms and caecillians.
Threats: 
Usually assumed to be earthworm instead of any snake so intentional threatening cases are uncommon. Habitat loss and climate change is major problem of this species because it lives in moist soil and humid areas. Such environment is largely depends on moisture, humidity, good rain. Digging and disturbing its micro habitat also causes its population decline from specific area.
Authors & Contributors: