Green Keelback ( Macropisthodon plumbicolor Cantor, 1839 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Macropisthodon plumbicolor (Cantor, 1839)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Lead Keelback, Grass Snake
Gujarati: 
લીલવો
Kannada: 
ಹಸಿರು ಬೆನ್ನೇಣು ಹಾವು
Photographs: 
Adult form. Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
Distribution: 
Found in whole of peninsular India except eastern parts (West Bengal); also not found above Gangetic plains, Thar desert, North & North-east regions. Parts of Odisha are its easternmost limit. Also found in Sri Lanka.
Venom Type: 
N/A
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

This can be identified by checking rich green or yellowish-green body marked with more or less irregular black bands or patches. In most of its life it bears yellow color V shaped marking guarded by black on nape. Sometimes it can be confused with Cobra due to its habit of showing narrow fake hood above the ground as a nervous response. 

Description: 

Average length- 50cm.
Maximum length- 94cm.

Dorsal -
Body stout and covered with highly keeled scales. Color yellowish-green in adults while bluish-green in juveniles. In most of the stages of life irregular bands found which usually become faint or absent in fully grown adults. In some dorsal regions sky blue or white interscale color found which is best visible when snake is provoked. One or Two “A” shape markings of black color present on neck clearly in juveniles; between them clear yellow color exists. All these neck patters also get faint or absent in sdults.

Ventral -
Belly entirely glossy white or grayish, with greenish edge. Subcaudal scales paired in a zigzag manner, their color is similar to ventral scales but sometimes can be darker or more yellowish.

Head -
Head rounded with smooth and shiny scales; slightly broader than neck. Blackish color patches present irregularly. Moderate size eyes have rounded pupil.

Tail-
The tail also covered with highly keeled scales. Normal as typical range with pointed tip. Color same like rest of the dorsal body.

Scalation
Head: 
Supralabial 7; 3rd & 4th touches eyes; preocular 2; loreal 1 or joined with lower preocular; postocular 3; temporal 2+3.
Dorsal: 
Highly keeled scales in 23/25: 25/27: 17/19 rows.
Ventral: 
144-162; anal mostly divided.
Sub Caudal: 
39-48 (Male) 34-47 (Female); paired.
Habitat: 
Found mainly in moderate and high elevations but in many parts of its range its found in plains also, though uncommonly. Habitat includes mixed and dry deciduous forest, wetlands having low vegetation, open forest. Lives in moist vegetation around agricultural lands, gardens, open forests, grassy plains etc. Hides in dense bushes, under leaf litters, grass, stones etc.
Natural History: 
Green Keelback is nocturnal and crepuscular species of terrestrial activity. Locomotion moderate. Behavior non-offensive, shy and try to escape. On provocation inflates much of fore body especially neck and gives false hook like appearance as nervous or alert response. Usually very calm but can give bite in chew manner if taken lightly. No specific behavior observed to show aggression. Reproduction oviparous. Female lays up to 22 eggs in clutch and new born seen during most of the monsoon from July to starting of winter.
Diet: 
Feeds mainly on toads and frogs. Hardly accepts other prey but few times seen with feeding on other snakes too.
Threats: 
As a direct threat people kill this species due to its Green color which gives appearance of some venomous snake like Green Pit Viper. It has been observed in road kills during monsoon. Due to loss of wet vegetation its population is reducing in some areas. Poisoning in wet field is also responsible for decline in population of amphibians and so the same with Green Keelback.
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