Nagarjun Sagar Racer ( Platyceps bholanathi Sharma, 1976 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Platyceps bholanathi (Sharma, 1976)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Sharma's Racer
Kannada: 
ನಾಗಾರ್ಜುನ್ ಸಾಗರ್ ಜೋರುಪೋತ
Photographs: 
Adult form. Bellary, Karnataka.
Distribution: 
Found in Eastern Ghats and dry parts of South India. Published records from Kapilatheertham, Nagarjuna Hills (also the Type locality) and Seshachalam Hills (Andhra Pradesh); Bellary (Karnataka); Hosur and Gingee Hills, Villupuram (Tamil Nadu), Hyderabad, Nalgonda (Telangana).
Venom Type: 
N/A
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. It looks very close to Günther's Racer (Coluber gacilis) which is found in dry parts of western India and does not overlap with former. The main morphological difference between Nagarjun Sagar Racer and Günther's Racer are: Number of mid body rows (19 in C. bholanathi and 21 in C. gracilis), rostral two times broader than high in C. bholanathi while as broad as high in C. gracilis, no pattern on posterior body and tail in C. bholanathi while discontinuous series of dark patches on posterior half of C. gracilis.

Description: 

Average length- 70cm.
Maximum length- 119cm.

Dorsal -
Body slender with subequal and smooth scales. Dorsal color dark brown which become faint on moving towards posterior body. Light grayish-brown color bars with black margin starts from neck or posterior of neck and remain interconnected with each other on side dorsals by leaving triangular shaped patches near belly. These bars become faint on mid body and completely absent on posterior. 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, pointed with shiny smooth scales, clearly broader than neck. Large eyes with rounded pupil. Ground color of head creamy brown with number of irregular shaped markings of dark brown, margined by black. One black streak start from lower of eyes and reach to posterior lip. One dark brown patch start from temporal and reach to posterior lower temporal. Parietal markings variable; usually with a belt joining eyes followed by more or less broken V shaped marking starting from parietals and broadens at the end of head. Underside of head yellowish-white with blackish patches on outer scales specially in infralabials and genials.

Tail -
Long and thin tail typically like other racer snakes with a pointed tip. Color patternless brown with reddish tint.

Scalation
Head: 
Rostral two times broader than height; supralabial 9, 5th or 5th & 6th in contact with eyes; 4th or 6th smallest; loreal 1; preocular 2 (rarely 1); postocular 2, subpostocular 1 or absent; temporal 2 + 2 or 2 + 3; infralabial 10 or 11, first 4 or 5 in contact with anterior genial, 5th and 6th in contact with posterior genial, 6th largest.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales of similar shape in 19:19:12/13/15 rows.
Ventral: 
201-212, angulated laterally; anal divided.
Sub Caudal: 
105-121; paired..
Habitat: 
Lives in rocky hills of moderate elevation forested by evergreen thorny vegetation, dry deciduous forests. All of its distribution records are known for hot and dry climate with low rainfall. Hides between or under heavy boulders and dense thorny bushes.
Natural History: 
Nagarjun Sagar Racer is a diurnal and terrestrial species which shows activity in dry rocks and scrubs. Choose thorny bushes adjacent to rocks for basking. 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: 
Population of this species greatly depends on status of dry rocky hills of South India and Eastern Ghats. Killing due to misidentification can be one more noteworthy threat.
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