Red Sand Boa ( Eryx johnii Russell, 1801 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Eryx johnii (Russell, 1801)
Regional Names: 
English: 
John's Earth Boa, Indian Sand Boa
Hindi: 
Domuhi, Damoi
Marathi: 
Mandul
Malayalam: 
Erattathalayan, Eruthalayan
Gujarati: 
Andhali Chakan, Damoi
Distribution: 
Found in whole of Indian mainland except North-east and Himalayan regions.
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Uniformly slender body from neck to tail. Dorsal colour brown, blackish brown etc without any pattern. Tail very thick with blunt end, which looks almost same like head.

Description: 

Length -
Average length- 70cm.
Maximum length- 110cm.

Dorsal body -
Body slender with small, keeled but shiny 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 tail.

Ventral body -
Ventral 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 in the front with smooth scales; not broader than neck. Very tough shovel shaped rostral scales present which are visible from the top also, useful for digging temporary burrows in loose soil or sand. Eyes small and with verticle 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.

Scalation
Head: 
Supralabial 10-12; scales between eyes 6-9; 10-11 small scales surrounding eyes.
Dorsal: 
Small sized keeled scales (of smooth feeling) in 53-67 rows.
Ventral: 
190-213; narrower than body width; anal tripartite.
Sub Caudal: 
20-34; undivided.
Habitat: 
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: 
Behavior very slow with almost no aggression. Due to shy and burrowing behavior choose to make a coil with head inside it and search sandy soil for making temporary burrow.
Diet: 
Feeds on rodents, other snakes and lizards.
Authors & Contributors: