Gower's Shieldtail ( Rhinophis goweri Aengals & Ganesh, 2013 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Rhinophis goweri (Aengals & Ganesh, 2013)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Gower's Rhinophis
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Found only in Bodhamalai and Kolli Hills of southern Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu state. Type locality: Noolathu Kombai, Bodamalai Hills between Namakkal and Salem districts of Tamil Nadu state, India.
Family: 
Description: 

Maximum length 33.5cm.

Head small, not broader than neck, with sharply pointed snout and covered with large shields.

Body short, cylindrical and covered with subequal, glossy and smooth scales. Dorsal color uniform brown with very faint, black, wavy, ragged bars which are more prominent in juveniles and turn faint or indistinct in adult stage.

Belly bright yellow and rarely patched with minute brown speckles. Eyes small in the form of small black dots and covered by a large ocular shield.

Underside of tail distinctly red-orange. Caudal disc dark brown. 

Scalation
Head: 
Rostral longest in all head scales with a median longitudinal ridge, completely separates nasals and separates prefrontal for more than half of their lengths; supralabial 4; eyes small, less than half of ocular length.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 17 rows.
Ventral: 
189-215, slightly broader than adjacent dorsal scales; anal divided.
Sub Caudal: 
5-9, paired; Caudal disc rugose, as long as or longer than shielded part of head.
Habitat: 
Found in 980-1400 m elevation forest of tropical dry evergreen forests of lower Eastern Ghats. It appears confined in various artificial and commercial plantations in its distribution range.
Natural History: 
Nothing specific is known about its natural history as it is known from handful of specimens. It is likely to be a nocturnal and fossorial snake which hides under rocks, roots of vegetation and in loose soil.
Diet: 
Likely to be an earthworm feeder like all other Uropeltids.
Threats: 
This species is reported from a narrow range of southern Eastern Ghats. Hills of this region are in threat of destruction for commercial and agriculture use. Like all other shieldtails this species may face threat of extinction due to these reasons as they are usually found in small ranges having very specific microhabitat and are very sensitive for change in microclimate.
Authors & Contributors: