Nikhil's Kukri Snake ( Oligodon nikhili Whitaker & Dattatri, 1982 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Oligodon nikhili (Whitaker & Dattatri, 1982)
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Found only in Palni Hills of Tamil Nadu. There is another specimen’s report from Agasthyamalai Hills of Kerala which was a road kill and undiagnosed so could not be confidently assumed as population of this species. Type locality: Palni Hills, Tamil Nadu.
Venom Type: 
N/A
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Can be identified by checking combination of characters: Striped body patterns, 15 mid body rows, presence of internasals. 

Description: 

Length- Can grow upto 44 cm or even more.

Head small, indistinct from neck. Top of the head with black color chevron marking from prefrontals to end of it which usually remain connected with a narrow streak between eyes. A V shaped nuchal streak of same color follows chevron mark which runs along the body on each side of vertebral stripe.

Body short, moderately stout and covered with glossy smooth scales. Dorsal grey-brown with four dark brown stripes along the body, top stripe lighte brown, guarded on each side by dark brown, third and fourth stripes remain on flank and of light and dark color respectively. Fourth stripe breaks into series of spots and ends at the base of tail.

Underside patched with dark spots in two series on both sides. Underside of tail patternless. 

Scalation
Head: 
Supralabial 7; 3rd & 4th in contact with eyes; loreal absent; anterior temporal 1.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 15 rows.
Ventral: 
144; anal divided.
Sub Caudal: 
33, paired.
Habitat: 
Found in moderate elevation (1500 m) shoal forest of Palni Hills of south India. Such grasslands are very restricted and provides microclimate to number of range restricted lesser fauna of south India.
Natural History: 
Nothing specific is known from the single specimen of species except an information that it can climb up to few feet height and hides in cracks.
Diet: 
Probably feeds on egg yolk of soft shelled eggs of reptiles.
Threats: 
As this species is known only from one (probably one more) specimen from the locality where it was discovered, habitat destruction is the biggest threat to this species. Palni Hills are known for several endemic and range restricted species so their conservation is must.
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