Painted Keelback ( Xenochrophis cerasogaster Cantor, 1839 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Xenochrophis cerasogaster (Cantor, 1839)
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Found in patched form from Assam to Uttar Pradesh; also found in South Bengal (Kolkata). Outside India it is found in Central Nepal and Southern Pakistan. The distribution of this species needs extensive exploration. Recorded from following states: Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal. Also found in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
Venom Type: 
N/A
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Can be identified easily by checking reddish-brown dorsal body with two light brown stripes running along the dorsal body.

Description: 

Average length- 60cm.
Maximum length- 87cm.

Head-
Head triangular with smooth and shiny scales; broader than neck. Color patternless dark reddish-brown like dorsal's forebody color. upper lip yellow and marked with red; the same line continues between dorsal and ventral scales and can be seen clearly. Eyes have rounded pupil.

Tail-
Tail also covered with keeled scales. Normal as typical range and ends with pointed tip. Color same like rest of the posterior dorsal body.

Scalation
Head: 
Intranasals distinctly narrowed anteriorly; supralabial 9 (rarely 10); 4th in contact with eyes, 5th excluded by a subocular ; preocular 1; single loreal; postocular 2-3; sometimes a single subocular; temporal 2+2 or 2+3 (rarely 1+2). Maxillary teeth 21-25, subequal.
Dorsal: 
Keeled scales in 19:19:17 rows, the tip more or less distinctly bidentate.
Ventral: 
140-154; rounded; anal divided.
Sub Caudal: 
62-80; paired.
Habitat: 
Found in fresh waterbodies of selective localities of Indian subcontinent. Prefers those waterbodies which have abundant prey species and thick aquatic vegetation.
Natural History: 
Painted Keelback is a aquatic species which mainly shows activity throughout the day. Can be seen among aquatic vegetation with raised forebody above water level. Behavior alert and quick in aquatic environment. To show alertness it inflates forebody and creeps away.
Diet: 
Feeds mainly on toads, frogs and fishes.
Threats: 
Direct threats are road kills and killing done by humans during work in paddy fields. As this species lives in marsh lands with abundant aquatic vegetation, habitat loss affects it most because such kind of habitat getting narrow in whole of Indian subcontinent and replaced by agricultural lands and urban settlements.
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