Indian Egg Eater ( Elachistodon westermanni Reinhardt, 1863 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Elachistodon westermanni (Reinhardt, 1863)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Indian Egg-eating Snake
Gujarati: 
ઇંડાખાઉં સાપ
Photographs: 
Vidarbha, Maharashtra.
Distribution: 
Distributed in two major geographical regions Himalayan foothills from Rangpur (Bangladesh) to Hoshiarpur (Punjab) and scrub plains of Central-western and south India (parts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana). Also found in Bangladesh and Nepal.
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

It can be identified by checking reddish-brown head patched with dark blotches, a yellow line running along the vertebra. 

Description: 

Average length- 60cm.
Maximum length- 80cm.

Dorsal -
Body thin, stout, moderately long, covered with smooth scales. Vertebral scales enlarge. Dorsal glossy dark brown or grayish; more exposed and least marked on the posterior side. Regular large sized black and white patterns on flank starts from the neck in ziz-zag manner which loses their prominence on mid body and become totally absent on posterior half. One yellowish brown vertebral stripe starts from the neck usually in broken form, join at the start of mid body and reaches to the end of the tail.

Ventral -
Belly glossy white, more or less marked with blackish-brown patches on the outer edge of most of scales, absent in the caudal region.

Head -
Head broader than neck, not depressed, snout rounded, large eyes with elliptical pupil. Top of the head glossy reddish-brown with large black patches on top scales, usually in touch with anterior edge of respective scale. Upper lip white, margined on upper edges with black.

Tail -
Long and thin tail of grayish color with no patterns found in dorsal body. The vertebral stripe continues till then end of it. Subcaudal scales paired in zig-zag manner.

Scalation
Head: 
Supralabial 6 or 7; 3rd & 4th in contact with eyes; 1 large loreal in contact with eyes; 1 preocular above loreal (or 2 preoculars?); postocular 2; anterior temporals 2, long.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 19 rows on neck and 15 on rest of the body; vertebral scales hexagonal and larger than neighbour scales.
Ventral: 
208-217; anal undivided.
Sub Caudal: 
59-64; paired.
Habitat: 
Hides in tree holes, rock gaps at heights, dense bushes etc. Lives both in dense and open forests (dry-deciduous, scrub, semi-evergreen etc) of low to moderate elevations. In Central and Western India it is more common in scrubs and ignored vegetation.
Natural History: 
Indian Egg Eater is a nocturnal and both arboreal and terrestrial species which mainly shows activity at low heights during night. Locomotion typical serpentine and moderate. Behavior calm, non-offensive and usually try to escape when threatened in its natural environment. In defensive position it makes a tight ball of body and don't react on disturbance. in aggressive mood it throws much of forebody into loops with head above the ground (similar like Boiga and Trinket species), bites rarely. Not specific is known about its reproduction. Oviparous and juveniles seen during summer to monsoon months.
Diet: 
Feeds only on eggs of birds. Due to its unique mechanism of feeding on eggs this species has recognition as Indian Egg Eating Snake.
Threats: 
Due to restricted and very selective diet, Indian Egg Eater's population and distribution appears to be dependent on population and status of bird species providing eggs as its diet. Road kill is one more significant threat for this snake.
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