Travancore Wolf Snake ( Lycodon travancoricus Beddome, 1870 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Lycodon travancoricus (Beddome, 1870)
Regional Names: 
Kannada: 
ಟ್ರಾವನ್ಕೋರ್ ತೊಳದಹಾವು
Gujarati: 
ત્રાવણકોર વરુદંતી
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
Endemic to hills of peninsular India. First described from Travancore hills of Kerala. This species is found in hills of Western Ghats (Kerala to Gujarat), Eastern Ghats (Tamil Nadu to Odisha) and a few hilly parts of Central India.
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

It is recognized by black or dark chocolate brown body with yellow bands. It is unique in all Peninsular Indian Wolf Snakes (Lycodon) in having loreal scale which does not touch internasals . In rest of the known species it is in good contact with later. Travancore wolf snake has  an undivided anal scale. These key characters are very significant in differentiating it from all other Wolf Snakes.

Description: 

Average length- 60cm.
Maximum length- 75cm.

Dorsal -
Body slender with shiny, subequal and smooth scales. Dorsal color glossy black, dark chocolate brown with purple ting. Dull yellow cross bars starts from nape to much of posterior body where they become faint. Bars split into two branches on side and leave a triangular spot. Southern Western Ghats population bears bright yellow bars and darker dorsal color.

Ventral -
Belly entirely glossy white without any pattern. Subcaudal scales usually paired in zig-zag manner but some of them or all can be found undivided.

Head -
Head depressed and broader than neck. Upper lip brownish-black. Eyes entirely black with vertically elliptical pupil.

Tail -
Normal length tail with faint markings; ends with a pointed tip.

Scalation
Head: 
Supralabials 9; 3rd to 5th touching eyes; 1 loreal, not in contact with internasals; 1 preocular; 2 postocular; temporals 2+3 or 3+3.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales in 17: 17: 15 rows.
Ventral: 
176-206; angulated laterally; anal undivided
Sub Caudal: 
64-76; paired (or some may remain unpaired).
Habitat: 
Found mainly in rainforests and mixed deciduous forests. Lives in hills of moderate to high elevation. Habitat includes both dense forests and open hills scattered with rocks.
Natural History: 
Aa nocturnal species which climbs well in rocks and other rough surfaces. Remain hidden in narrow cracks, holes, under heavy objects, rock piles during day time. Behaviour shy, elusive and usually non-offensive. On provocation restrict itself in a small coil with head hidden under it like most of Wolf Snake species. Can bite on handling attempts. Oviparous. Mating begins from mid winters. Female lays up to 6 eggs in rock cracks, under dense leaf litters, cavities under wooden logs etc. New born seen from late summer to most of monsoon.
Diet: 
Feeds on geckos, skinks, small rodents, other snakes etc.
Threats: 
Threats includes mortality on road and killing due to misidentification with some venomous snake (mostly Common Krait). Other threats are loss of habitat which are mainly hills of peninsular India.
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