PHYSICAL FEATURES AND NATURAL
THOUGH SNAKES ARE PRESENT ALL, OVER THE DISTRICT, a
large variety of them abound in the region of Vishalgad, Bhudargad,
Bavda and parts of Gadhinglaj. The reported cases of death due to
snake bite in this district for the years 1948-1952, as given below,
indicate the role played by these animals in the life of the people
in this district.
No. of deaths due to snake bites.
The snakes listed below are from records available
in the Fauna of British India by Dr. Smith (1943), various
observations in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society
and personal investigations.
Typhlops porrectus (M.
Daud).-These are small worm-like snakes, without any distinct
neck- region. They are nearly blind. The colour ranges from deep to
blackish brown and the scales on the body are cycloid. The pelvic
girdle is represented by a couple of vestigeal bones. There is a
spine at the tail end, which is used for burrowing in decaying wood
and vegetation. It feeds upon worms and insects and grows to about
eight inches in length and prefers to live underground.
Uropeltig Ocellatus and
Uropeltis phipsoni.-The latter snakes are seen in the
hilly and heavy monsoon regions of the district. The former is
yellowish brown and the latter purplish brown. Transverse series of
small yellow black edged ocelli are present on the dorsal side while
the belly is brown with large yellow spots or cross-bars or mottled
patches. They have small eyes at the tapering anterior end and grow
to about 20 to 21 inches in length. They are found buried in soil at
high altitudes, feeding on insects.
Python molurus molurus,
Eryx conicus (M. Parad)
Eryx Johni (M. Dutondya)
Python molurus molurus
(M. Ajgar) differs from P. M. bivittatus
by the indistinctiveness of the lance-shaped mark on head. These
sluggish snakes prefer rocky slopes and also watery places. They are
brown with pinkish spots and stripes. They grow up to 18 feet and
often weigh more than 250 lbs. The food consists mainly of birds and
mammals which are killed by constriction.
Eryx conicus (M. Parad
and also Durkya Ghonas) yellowish, brownish or greyish
above with a dorsal series of large, dark-brown, black-edged spots,
usually confluent with one another to form a zigzag stripe; lower
parts yellowish or whitish, the outer scale rows with small brown
spots. Female is longer than male, two or three feet in length. It
feeds on small frogs, birds, mammals and even snakes. It is a
harmless sluggish snake often exhibited by snake charmers as
Eryx Johni (M. Dutondya)
is longer than Eryx conicus. It is sandy grey with
black-edged dorsal brown scales, with distinct dark traverse bands,
particularly in the tail end. The under-parts are whitish, spotted
with dark brown. This snake is found more in hilly regions devoid of
This family is represented by the following species
of snakes: -
1. Ptyas Mucosus (M.
2. Coluber jasciolatus (M.
3. Liopeltis calamaria.
4. Oligodon taeniolatus.
5. Lycodon aulicus (Wolf snake).
6. Natrix piscator (M.
7. Bioga forsteni.
8. Psammophis leithi,
9. Dryophis nasutus (M.
Ptyas mucosus (M.
Dhaman).-Brown with irregular but strongly marked
black cross-bars on the posterior half of the body forming a
reticulate pattern. The younger ones have dark-edged cross-bars on
the anterior surface. These are very agile snakes often growing to
about 10 feet in length. When cornered they emit a sound of a milder
tone than a kite and strike viciously. The bite is, of course, not
poisonous. The male is slightly slate coloured. It is rumoured that
these snakes wind round the feet of cattle and lash with their tail.
However, it has been observed that this snake is capable of twining
round a body into a sort of bowline knot which is normally difficult
to open. It may be that such knots are used for anchoring while
catching its prey. This snake is very common and is an important
enemy of rats. Farmers should not destroy this snake, as it helps
them on reduce rodents on the farm.
Coluber fasciolatus (M.
Nagin).-Older individuals are uniformly brown
with lower parts whitish or yellowish. The snake grows to about 4½
feet in length and is very vicious. When cornered, it erects and
flattens the body behind the neck like a cobra; so it is often
mistaken to be a cobra.
Liopeltis calamaria.-Light-brown with
black-edged scales showing distinct longitudinal lines along the
vertebral region. A series of dark spots on each side of the head.
These snakes are found particularly in the hilly region, though not
Oligodon taeniolatus.-Light-brown to
buff above with narrow black transverse cross-bars, the colour of
which is confined to the edges of the scales. There are at least
five colour variations. This snake is seen in gardens and often
mistaken to be a krait. It is a harmless snake.
Lycodon amlicus.-These snakes are
particularly nocturnal in habit and are excellent climbers. They
bite readily when molested. It has a fondness for entering human
habitations. It grows to about one foot in length and due to its
deep brown colour and whitish cross-bars, it is often mistaken to be
a krait. It is a harmless snake.
Natrix piscator (M.
Pan-divad).-It is essentially a snake of the plains living
near water, breeding prolifically olive coloured with black spots
dorsally and a whitish belly similarly edged with dark spots. It
grows to three feet and feeds on frogs. It is easily tamed and many
snake charmers carry this snake in their bag. A couple of more
species of Natrix are also available in the district.
Boiga forsteni (Cat snake).-Brown or
reddish above with more or less regular, angular black spots or
cross-bars with white spots between them. These are more distinct on
the anterior half. This snake is more arboreal, feeding on calotes
and birds and their eggs. It grows to about 4½ feet in length and is
very vicious. It coils into a sort of figure of eight and strikes
very viciously. It kills the prey by constriction.
Psammophis leithi.-Light, yellowish
above with four dark-brown longitudinal stripes, the median pair on
either side of the vertebral line, conspicuous and bordered on each
side with black spots which may be continuous with one another,
extending up to the eye.
This snake grows up to two feet in length.
Dryophis nasutus (M.
Sarptoli).-Verdant green above, the interstitial skin,
black and white, forming oblique lines best marked on the anterior
half of the body. Pale-green below. It is essentially a snake of the
trees living on lizards and birds' eggs. It looks harmless, but
stares at the face and often has the habit of darting at the eyes.,
Fam.: Elapidae.-This is represented by
the following snakes:-
Bungarus caeruleus (M.
Bungarus fasciatus (M. Aghi
Naja naja (M. Nag).
Bungarus cceruleus (M.
Manyar).-Black above with a bluish line and having
narrow white equidistant cross-bars more in the posterior region.
Dorsal row of hexagonal scales and a single row of complete caudals
distinguish this snake from others. It is a very quiet snake growing
to about 4½ feet in length feeding on rats and other snakes. This is
one of the most poisonous snakes of India, the poison of which is
Bungarus fasciatus (M. Aghi
Manyar) is found in the hilly regions. It is alternately
banded with black or purplish-black bands on a yellow background.
Head is bordered by a yellow stripe. The specimen grows up to four
feet in length and is said to be poisonous.
Naja naja (M.
Nag.).-This is quite a familiar snake with a hood, on
which may be present a spectacle mark. The colour is brown but there
are cases where the specimen was yellow. Such yellow specimen turn
brown after a continuous exposure to atmosphere. This snake is not
normally aggressive. It is worshipped on Nagpanchmi day. The
main food consists of frogs, and rodents and the maximum length is
about 5 feet 6 inches. When cornered it hisses intermittently and
strikes with force. The poison is neurotoxic and this is an
important poisonous snake of the locality.
Callophis melanurus (Coral
snake).-Light brown above, head and neck black with yellow spots,
tail with two black rings and the belly reddish in live specimen.
This snake growing to above 2½ feet curls up to expose the red under
surface. It is a poisonous snake.
Fam: Viperidae.-This is represented by
Vipera russelli (M. Ghonas),
Echis carinatus (M. Phoorsa) and
Vipera russelli (M.
Ghonas).-Light brown above with three
longitudinal series of large rounded or oval spots. These are
usually brown in the centre and have a black margin edged
with white. The vertebral chain may be confluent and the
outer spots may be broken at their lower margins. This snake may
be found both on the hills and in the plains. It hisses very
loudly and deeply. It moves in a leisurely manner, but
when disturbed and roused, it strikes with great force and
determination literally hurling itself at its enemy. Grows to
Above five feet.
The poison fangs are bigger than those of the cobra
and the action of the poison is more on the vascular system. It is
one of the four most common poisonous snakes of India.
Echis carinata (M.
Phoorsa).-This small snake of the semi-desert is found
in the rocky regions. It is a vicious creature, biting with least
provocation, with great malice and with a lightning-like rapidity.
When excited it has the peculiar habit of rubbing the sides of the
body against one another, in doing so forming almost the figure of 8
with its head in the centre. It grows to about two feet in length.
It is a brown snake with deep brown spots on the body and an
arrow-shaped mark on the head. It is one of the four most common
poisonous snakes of India.
Trimeresurus malabaricus.-This green
pit viper growing to about two feet may be met with in jungles at