Stout Sand Snake ( Psammophis longifrons Boulenger, 1896 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Psammophis longifrons (Boulenger, 1896)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Long Sand Racer
Gujarati: 
સામાન્ય રેતીયો સાપ
Photographs: 
Lateral view. Raigarh, Maharashtra.
Distribution: 
Found in drier zones of Central-western India including much of eastern, central and western (excluding Western Ghats) Maharashtra, most of the central-eastern Gujarat, selected localities of western Madhya Pradesh (Satpura hills).
Venom Type: 
N/A
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

Can be identified by checking black edge on most of the dorsal scales (specially on top dorsals) on grayish-brown ground color. 

Description: 

Average length- 100cm.
Maximum length- 145cm.

Dorsal -
Body long, slender and covered with smooth scales; somewhat robust in adults. Ground color pale brown or grayish-brown (mainly in juveniles) with almost each dorsal scale margined with black except very first or first two rows near belly. Top dorsal rows have border bolder than side region; the topmost row in juveniles makes a black chain from posterior of head to end of the tail which is done by connecting black margins of top rows.

Ventral -
Belly white or yellowish-white, gray or cream in adults; juveniles have greenish-white color underside.

Head -
Head elongated, not depressed on top and slightly broader than neck. Color similar to rest of dorsal body. Distinct ridge found between the top and side of head. Top of the head in young stage usually have two long tear shaped patches on parietals which can be vary in shape and prominence. Upper lip lighter than top. Large eyes with rounded pupil.

Tail -
Long, slender and thin tail have dorsal patterns in faint form.

Scalation
Head: 
Supralabial 8; 4th & 5th in contact with eyes; loreal 1, preocular 1, not in contact with frontal; postocular 2; temporal 2+2 or 2+3. Maxillary teeth 12 or 13.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 17:17:13 rows.
Ventral: 
161-175; rounded; anal divided.
Sub Caudal: 
79-95; paired.
Habitat: 
Distributed mainly in dry forests including dry and mixed deciduous forests, scrub forest, semi-desert, coastal scrubs etc. Found in dry plains and moderate elevations, scrub lands, around agricultural lands, unused rocky terrain having xeric vegetation etc. Choose dense thorny bushes of low to moderate heights, gaps between rocks, dry tree holes, mounds etc. for roosting and egg laying. This species is confined in modified environment and found around agricultural lands and newly developed colonies in many parts but seen rarely everywhere.
Natural History: 
Stout Sand Snake Snake is a diurnal species which shows activity throughout the day among thorny bushes. Activity both terrestrial and arboreal. Locomotion fast in serpentine motion in all environment. Behavior very alert, quick to respond and powerfully protest against any disturbance like catching attempt. This species is known for tail breaking (tail autotomy) behavior, if caught from tail, it'll loose it by twisting whole of body and escape. No specific display known to call it aggressive response and always try to escape on threatening. Bites in chew manner which can locally cause swelling and moderate pain. Oviparous. Female lays about 8 or more eggs (of size ~21 × 40 mm) during summer months.
Diet: 
Feeds on all kind of lizards, rodents, bird chicks, frogs and toads. Usually chase its prey in active way.
Threats: 
No direct threats are known to this species as it can live in ignored scrub forests and near to agricultural lands of dry zones. Destruction of such vegetation, undisturbed lands and expansion of urbanization are certainly responsible for its population shifting. Other threats are road kills and direct killing by humans.
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