Red Sand Boa ( Eryx johnii Russell, 1801 )

  • Sharebar
Scientific Name: 
Eryx johnii (Russell, 1801)
Regional Names: 
ಕೆಂಪು ಮರಳು ಹಾವು
John's Earth Boa, Indian Sand Boa
Domuhi, Damoi
Erattathalayan, Eruthalayan
આંધળી ચાકરણ, દમોઈ
Found in whole of India excluding North-east states after North-Bengal; also not found in Indian islands. The Easternmost boundary of this species is parts of Odisha.
Characteristics for identification: 

Can be easily identified by checking brown to blackish slender body having uniform thickness and small head. 


Dorsal -
Body slender with small, keeled but smooth appearing scales. Body color almost uniform brown, reddish brown, reddish black, chocolate brown etc in adults. Color in adults is found to be darker than in sub adults. Juveniles have reddish and blackish colored banded pattern, which is more prominent on the posterior body.

Ventral -
Belly scales much narrower like typical burrowing snakes. Belly color also depends on dorsal color and generally same like or may be darker. Sometimes white, dark brown, orange or blackish patches present on the whole ventral surface. Subcaudal scales are unpaired and sometimes have a totally different color than the ventral.

Head -
Head depressed on snout with smooth scales; not broader than neck. Very tough shovel shaped rostral present which is useful for digging temporary burrows in loose soil or sand. Eyes small and with vertical pupil. Tongue color red.

Tail -
Very small and thick tail which ends with a blunt head like tip (thus the famous name Two Headed Snake). It may have darker color than dorsal body. Subcaudal scales unpaired.

Supralabial 10-12; scales between eyes 6-9; 10-11 small scales surrounding eyes.
Small sized keeled scales (of smooth feeling) in 53-67 rows.
190-213; narrower than body width; anal tripartite.
Sub Caudal: 
20-34; undivided.
Red Sand Boa is a nocturnal species and spends most of its time as burrower; uses dry and sandy soil for burrowing and show activity at night. Lives in mounds, under buried bricks and rocks, rat holes, small caves, agricultural lands etc.
Natural History: 
Habitat includes agricultural lands, gardens, unused lands having sandy soil, deep cracks and rat holes. Hides in cracks, mounds, rat holes, brick piles, rock piles etc.
Feeds on rodents, other snakes and lizards.
General threats includes road kills and killing done during agricultural and other digging activities as it’s a burrower. In some parts of country its consumed for edible use. Due to its rounded and thick tail this species is under illegal trade for medicinal and magic use.
Authors & Contributors: