Kashmir rock agama | Laudakia tuberculata Gray, 1827

Kashmir rock agama | Laudakia tuberculata Gray, 1827   Kashmir rock agama is a species of lizard that belong to family agamidae which i...

Himalayan Ratsnake | Elaphe hodgsoni Günther, 1860

Himalayan Ratsnake, Elaphe hodgsoni


It is a non-venomous snake species in the family Colubridae and is distributed in Himalayan parts of Asia; found in Nepal, India (Sikkim, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir), and China (Tibet). The term “hodgsoni” was given to the species in honor of British Naturalist Brian Houghton Hodgson. It is an average sized serpent which grows up to 4-5 feet in total body length including a tail length of 9-15 inches. Elaphe hodgsoni is commonly known as Himalayan Ratsnake.

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Family: Colubridae

Genus: Elaphe

Species: hodgsoni

Binomial name

Elaphe hodgsoni (Günther, 1860)

Elaphe hodgsoni is brownish-olive over the dorsal surface having black-edged scales mostly, while juveniles possess blackish cross bands. The ventral side of the species is yellowish which is darker toward the anterior side, having blackish margins on all ventrals. Rostral is as deep as it is broad and is visible from above. The suture between internasals is squatter than, present between the prefrontals while frontal is as long as its distance from the end of snout but shorter than parietals. The loral is lengthier than deep and may be united with the prefrontal. Elaphe hodgsoni has large preocular (one), with or without a minor subocular scale beneath the preocular and two postocular. It has 4-5 temporals (2+2 or 2+ 3). Serpent have 8 super labials out of which 4-5 touches the eye, and have 9 lower labials, which are in contact of anterior chin shields. Beside the species possess 19/23/19, feebly keeled scales; 233–246 ventral; anal divided and subcaudals 79–90.

Characteristics dimensions as per Manhas et al., 2017

Full body length: 1200 mm

Snout-vent length: 980 mm

 Tail length: 220 mm

 Head width: 15 mm

 Mouth angle: 27 mm

Intra-orbital distance: 10 mm

 Eye diameter: 4 mm

Scalation; Data collected from specimen of Doda, Jammu 

 **Dorsal Scales (A: M: P): 19/23/19

Supra-labial scales: 8/8

 Infra-labial scales : 9/9

Parietal scales: 2

Supraocular scales: 2

Preocular scales: 1

Post-ocular scales: 3

 Ventral scales: 235

 Anal plate: Divided

 Subcaudal scales: 82 pair

 Intranasal scales: 2

 Frontal scales: 1

Prefrontal scales: 2

 **Note: A-Anterior; M-Midbody; P-Posterior

Elaphe hodgsoni terrestrial and semi arboreal snake species which prefers to live in dense forest and near human settlements in rural areas. It feeds on Birds, small rodents and lizards, skinks. The serpent is very shy in behavior which tries to flee at first when corned and never attempts to bite. There is no serious threat to species except the loss of habitat and killings by humans in its range.

Literature Cited:

Acharji, M.N. and M.B. Kripalani. 1952. On a collection of Reptilia and Batrachia from the Kangra and Kulu Valleys, Western Himalayas. Records of Indian Museum 49(2): 175-184. 

Boulenger, G. A. 1894. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Vol. II. Taylor and Francis, London. 

Boulenger, G.A. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. London. 

Das I (2002). A Photographic Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of India. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. 144 pp. ISBN 0-88359-056-5. (Elaphe hodgsoni, p. 33). 

Elaphe hodgsoni at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database Retrieved on 12 June, 2020 

Elaphe_hodgsoni at wikipedia.org Retrieved on 12 June, 2020 

Gunther, A. 1864. The Reptiles of British India. In: Hardwicke R. (Editor), Ray Society, London 

Manhas, A. 2017. Role of varying climatic regimes on the Reptilian fauna under temperate and tropical conditions. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Barkatullah University, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.. 

Manhas, A., R., Raina, and A. Wanganeo. 2018. Reptilian Diversity and Distributions in the Doda District of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Reptiles and Amphibians 25(3): 164–169. 

Sahi, D.N. 1979. A contribution to the Herpetology of Jammu and Kashmir. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Jammu, Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir, India. 

Smith, M.A. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-region, Reptilia and Amphibia. Vol. III-Serpentes. Taylor and Francis, London, UK. 

Swan, L.W. and A.E. Leviton. 1962. The herpetology of Nepal: a history, checklist, and zoogeographical analysis of the herpetofauna. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 4th Series 32(6): 103-147. 

Wallach V (1997). "A monograph of the colubrid snakes of the genus Elaphe Fitzinger (book review)". Herpetological Review 28 (2): 110. 

Whitaker, R. 2006. Common Indian snakes: A Field Guide. 2nd ed. Macmillan Publishers, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. 

Whitaker, R. and A. Captain, A. 2004. Snakes of India: The Field Guide. Draco Books, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

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PerSonaLife: Himalayan Ratsnake | Elaphe hodgsoni Günther, 1860
Himalayan Ratsnake | Elaphe hodgsoni Günther, 1860
Himalayan Ratsnake, Elaphe hodgsoni
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