Periyar Shieldtail ( Uropeltis madurensis Beddome, 1878 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Uropeltis madurensis (Beddome, 1878)
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Endemic to Western Ghats. Found in high-elevations (> 1100 masl) of north Travancore ranges; in Kottaimalai-Meghamalai-Devarmalai hill complexes.
Family: 
Description: 

Uropeltis madurensis can be diagnosed by the following combination of characters:

Part of rostral visible from above, not distinctly longer than its distance from frontal; rostral not fully separating nasals.
Dorsal uniform brown, each scale with a well defined lighter golden yellowish outline.
Ventral with alternate rhomboidal large brown and orange spots or blotches, the two colours of equal intensities.
Tail shield with clearly defined, thickened, circumscribed disc.

Scalation
Head: 
Rostral visible from above, not fully separating nasals; portion of rostral visible from above less than distance from frontal; nasals pierced by nostril, divided by rostral anteriorly but in contact with each other posteriorly; prefrontals slightly larger than nasals / oculars, subequal to frontal; frontal longer than broad, distinctly smaller than parietal; parietals large, largest of all head scales; a small rhomboid accessory scale just behind parietal; supralabials 4, 1st & 2nd ones small, 3rd below eye, 4th the largest; infralabials 3, elongate, 1st pair slightly curved anteriorly; mental scale small, subequal to 1st infralabial, but as wide as long.
Dorsal: 
Dorsal scales in 17: 17: 15 rows.
Ventral: 
144-157, angulate laterally; anal 2, right overlap left, each larger than a body scale.
Sub Caudal: 
8-10 pairs + 1 terminal scale; tail shield distinctly truncate above, ridged and slightly concave; covered with 30, bi- and tri-carinate thickened scales; 7 scales across the length and 4–5 across the width of the disc.
Habitat: 
Shola forests as well as man-made habitats such as spice plantations, tea gardens etc.
Natural History: 
Burrowing. Nocturnal, but has been sighted active at day during rains. Moves out on to land during monsoons, particularly in rainy nights.
Diet: 
Feeds on earthworms and other soft-bodied creatures.
Threats: 
Habitat loss, Road-kill, wanton killing.
Authors & Contributors: