Günther's Wood Snake ( Xylophis stenorhynchus Günther, 1875 )

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Scientific Name: 
Xylophis stenorhynchus (Günther, 1875)
Regional Names: 
Günther's Mountain Snake, Günther's Narrow-headed Snake
Currently it is known from hills of parts of Tamil Nadu (Anamalais, Palni, Meghamlai) and Kerala (Munnar, Periyar) in elevations above 1200 meter. Type locality: 'Travancore', India.
Venom Type: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Taxonomically it can be identified easily by checking combination of 15 mid body rows; supraocular equal in size to postocular scale; and long midline contact of parietal scales which are very less in its closest sister species Captain's Wood Snake (X. captaini). 


Dorsal -
Short, cylindrical and somewhat robust body covered with subequal and smooth scales. Color glossy brown with three longitudinal stripes or series of dots, darker than dorsal ground color running on the top dorsal region. One more dark stripe also runs on side dorsal near to belly.

Ventral -
Belly dark brown which is as broad as bradth of ventral scales. Subcaudal scales paired in zig-zag manner.

Head -
Head short with pointed snout and not broader than neck. Color entirely glossy dark brown or similar to dorsal ground color. A thick yellow collar present with is usually disconnected on top. Some indistinct yellowish patches may also present on the top shields. Small eyes have rounded or oval pupil but overall appears entirely black.

Tail -
Short and thick tail ends with a thick tip. Color similar to dorsal body and have stripes in faint form.

Supralabial 5; 3rd & 4th in contact with eyes; first smallest, in contact with rostral and nasal only; fourth in contact with postocular and temporal; a long conspicuous scale present between eyes and nasal, guarded by 2nd & 3rd supralabials; frontal not longer than breadth and much shorter than parietals; parietal scales make long midline contact with each other; temporal 1+2, subequal, anterior reaches to level of last two supralabials; second infralabial notably longer than the first and together the first and second approach the length of the third. Supraocular equal in size to postocular scale. Approximately 18-21 maxillary teeth.
Smooth, imbricate and cycloid scales in 15 rows.
120-135; anal undivided.
Sub Caudal: 
Male 24-29, Female 15; paired.
Found in moist Shola forests, but also nearby plantations and monoculture lands.
Natural History: 
Burrowing. Sighted often under decaying logs, other vegetation, under stones and inside dense leaf-litter.
Feeds on earthworms and caecillians. Probably feeds on insect larvae also.
Road-kills are a threat to this species. Habitat loss and destruction and pesticide use / contamination also affects populations living in plantation margins.
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