Common Sand Boa (Gongylophis conicus)
English - Rough-scaled Boa, Rough-scaled Earth Boa | Hindi- Mathu, Chitti, Mitti wala saap | Marathi- Durkya ghonas | Malayalam- Mannuilipampu, Mannunnipampu, Mandalipampu, Payyanipampu | Punjabi- Saraal, Azdaha | Gujrati- Gadhio, Bhamfodi, Dardhoi
Distribution - All over India. Not found in the North-East.
Status -Common, most common Boidae member in general sighting.
Length- Adults measure approx. 2ft, but can grow up to 3.5ft.
Dorsal body- - Body short and very thick; highly keeled scales(mainly in head and posterior body) found in all over the body with smoother scales on side dorsal. Body full of patches. Top dorsal patches are remarkable for identification, having irregular shape which usually joined from head to tail. Apart from these, smaller Irregular shaped and discontinuous patches also present in side dorsal body which are discontinuous mostly. Dorsal body color varies from brown, reddish brown, dark yellow, chocolate, or white mixed with these colors in side dorsal; all patches have darker color of dark brown, blackish, reddish brown depends upon side dorsal color; between these patches.
Ventral body- Ventral scales much narrower than typical snakes. Color generally whitish mixed with yellow or pale yellow entirely. Subcaudal scales unpaired.
Head- Head small and not very distinct from neck. Highly keeled small scales present over the head. Upper lips color usually lighter than top of the head. Juveniles and Subadults may have darker color head than dorsal body with blackish patches. Underside also have small scales without mental groove. Eyes small with vertical pupil; tongue color reddish.
Tail- Tail very short and thick with highly keeled scales of dry appearance; ends with pointed tip.
Key characters for identification-
Look alikes- Indian Rock Python, Russelís Viper, Whitakerís Sand Boa, Saw-scaled Viper etc.
- Very thick body with brown or blackish color patches(irregular shape) in whole dorsal body.
- Small head and small thick tail of rough and dry appearance.
Head- 12-14 Supralabials; 10-15 scales surrounding eyes.
Dorsal- Highly keeled scales with 40-55 rows; around 30 on posterior body.
Ventral- 162-196; Anal pentapartite (with largest scale in middle guarded by two scales on each side) divided most of times.
Subcaudal- 16-24; undivided.
Behavior- Common Sand Boa is a nocturnal species and remain hidden in burrows and sandy soil during day time; sometime can hunt on birds during day time also. Lives in area having sandy soil including agricultural lands, gardens etc.
Feed mostly on rodents, birds and other snakes; juveniles feeds on insects and lizards also. Always kill its pray by muscular constriction.
Behavior usually nervous and defensive, on provocation and make a quick coil on disturbance with head under the coil. On further disturbance strikes very fast without any indication and apply fake attacks.
Reproduction - Females gives birth to 6-17 young directly from May to February.
Rescue Situations -
Though Common Sand Boa is the most common Boidae member distributed widely, it is not so frequent in rescues(less than 5 per month). Generally it is found in agricultural lands, gardens and sandy plains around humans and rarely enters inside the houses. As it is 1)not so frequent in rescues 2)slow moving 3)burrowing and 4) small species, rescuers should give full attempt to release it near the rescue point. Re settling of rescued Sand Boa should be avoided in almost all cases.