Russell's Kukri ( Oligodon taeniolatus Jerdon, 1853 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Oligodon taeniolatus (Jerdon, 1853)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Streaked Kukri Snake
Kannada: 
ರಸ್ಸೆಲ್ಸ್ ಕುಕ್ರಿಹಾವು
Photographs: 
Raigarh, Maharashtra.
Distribution: 
Found in whole of peninsular India, Northern-western states excluding Jammu & Kashmir. Not found in North-east region after West Bengal. West Bengal or Odisha's parts are eastern most limit of this species. Also found in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkmenistan.
Family: 
Description: 

New born- 7.5-12cm.
Average length- 45cm.
Maximum length- 59cm.
Dorsal -
Slender and covered with glossy and subequal smooth scales. There are multiple distinct patterns found specially around Western Ghats and South India. The most widely distributed and commonest form is as follows: Ground color dark or light brown or grayish-brown which usually become light on flank and guarded by thin dark stripe on lower side. A light color vertebral line running transversally which is guarded by series of regular black and white oblique streak from neck to tail. In Western Ghats and South Indian form large, countable and irregularly shaped blotches found which can be intersected by a faint of clear light color vertebral line. Side dorsals have similar dark and light stripes in more or less prominent form.

Ventral -
Patternless white in the commonest form (distributed widely) while patched with blackish spots near dorsal rows.

Head -
Moderate, not much depressed and scarcely broader than neck. Usually with typical chevron shaped marking on the top, a thick bent band joining eyes and thick collar behind the arrow mark. These patterns may fuse in fully grown adults and appear patternless or with faint shades of dark and light brown. Moderate eyes with rounded pupil.

Tail -
Length typical and ends with pointed tip. Dorsal patterns found in faint form but usually visible.

Scalation
Head: 
7 (rarely 6 or 8) supralabials; 3rd & 4th in contact with eyes; preocular 1, rarely a presubocular; loreal 1; postocular 2; temporals 1+2.
Dorsal: 
Scales smooth with 15 rows at midbody.
Ventral: 
157-201 (Male), 154-219 (Female); slightly angulated laterally; anal divided.
Sub Caudal: 
27-59; paired.
Habitat: 
Distributed in wide range of habitat including dry, moist and mixed deciduous forests, rainforests, semi-deserts of Indian subcontinent and few Central Asian countries. Lives both in dense and open forests, rocky terrain, gardens, agricultural lands etc. Hides under thick leaf litters, fallen wooden logs, stones, cracks on ground and walls, under loose roots of vegetation etc.
Natural History: 
Activity nocturnal and usually terrestrial but also choose to be semi-fossorial and climber regularly. Behavior shy, elusive and usually non-offensive. First try to escape on threatening, on further disturbance or blocking the escape way it throws whole of body into loose loops with head slightly above the ground which is followed by mock attacks. On catching it tries to tear catcher's skin with sharp Kukri-shaped teeth from either side of head. Oviparous. Female lays up to 9 eggs during monsoon months in narrow places, under loose roots of vegetation, thick leaf liter etc. New born individuals seen during whole of monsoon months.
Diet: 
Feeds on reptile and amphibian eggs, small lizards, soft bodied insects etc.
Threats: 
Direct threats are killing due to misidentification with some venomous snake like Viper and road kills. This species lives well in urban area's vegetation, agricultural lands, variety of forests including ignored scrubs and rocky patches so habitat destruction is not a very effective threat in close future. However this taxa is assumed to be a species complex so after resolving it with more names, new challenges may arrive to discuss conservation and population status.
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