Günther's Racer ( Platyceps gracilis Günther, 1862 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Platyceps gracilis (Günther, 1862)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Slender Racer
Gujarati: 
પાતળી ધામણ
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Found in dry and arid parts of western India from Maharashtra to Rajasthan (Southern and Central Aravalli) and western parts of Madhya Pradesh (single record from Asirgarh). Central Aravalli hills of Rajasthan is its Northern-most limit.
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

It can be identified by checking cream color bars on dark brown ground color on half of fore body. Often confused with Russell's Kukri due to similar head markings. Looks very close to Nagarjun Sagar Racer (Coluber bholanathi) which is found in Eastern Ghats and drier parts of south India and does not overlap with former. The main morphological difference between Günther's Racer and Nagarjun Sagar Racer are: Number of mid body rows (21 in C. gracilis and 19 in C. bholanathi), rostral as broad as high in C. gracilis while two times broader than high in C. bholanathi, discontinuous series of dark patches on posterior half of C. gracilis while no pattern on posterior body and tail in C. bholanathi.

Description: 

Average length- 70cm.
Maximum length- 93cm.

Dorsal -
Body slender with subequal and smooth scales. Dorsal color dark grayish-brown which become faint on moving towards posterior body. Light grayish-brown or cream color bars with black margin starts from neck and may or many not remain interconnected with each other on side dorsals by leaving triangular shaped black patch near belly. These bars become faint on mid body and leave only black patches posterior one third region. Apart from this reddish ting exist on mid body.

Ventral -
Belly yellowish with dark patches on the edge of majority of ventrals. Subcaudal scales paired in zig-zag manner.

Head -
Head flattened, moderately pointed with shiny smooth scales, clearly broader than neck. Large eyes with rounded pupil. Ground color of head creamy brown with a thick stripe joining eyes on top; one V or arrow shaped marking present on parietal which extends to posterior of head. Underside of head yellowish-white.

Tail -
Long and thin tail typically like other racer snakes with a pointed tip. Color brown with regular black patches.

Scalation
Head: 
Rostral as broad as high; supralabial 9; 5th and 6th in contact with eyes; loreal 1; preocular 1, presubocular 1; postocular 2; temporal 2+2. Maxillary teeth 13-14.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales of similar shape in 21:21:15 rows.
Ventral: 
206-222, angulated laterally; anal divided.
Sub Caudal: 
118-127; paired.
Habitat: 
Lives in drier hills of moderate elevation forested by deciduous, mixed deciduous and degraded deciduous forests, semi-desert and teak forests. Most of its distribution records are known for hot and dry climate with low to moderate rainfall. Hides between or under heavy boulders and dense thorny bushes.
Natural History: 
Günther's Racer is a diurnal and terrestrial species which shows activity in dry plains and scrubs. Locomotion fast and alert to creep away on feeling danger. Usually restless, non-offensive and no specific behavior has been noticed to call it aggressive response. Reproduction oviparous. Nothing specific is known about its egg laying months, clutch size and breeding patterns. Likely to lay eggs during summers under heavy rocks and cracks of its habitat.
Diet: 
Feeds on Geckos and small rodents.
Threats: 
As it uncommonly encounters with human beings, killing appears not to be a big threat. However there are cases of its road kill mortalities.
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