Common Kukri (Oligodon arnensis)
English - Banded Kukri
Distribution - All over India.
Status - Common.
Length- General length is 50cm approx but can grow up to 70cm.
Dorsal body- Body slender with shiny smooth brown colored scales. Regular black or dark brown bands with grayish tint present, starting from head to tail. They go faint as they near the tail. Juveniles have dense bands as compared to adults. The bands are narrower on side dorsal region and clearly broader on the top. Number of such bands can be from 10 to 30 or very rarely absent.
Specimens from West Bengal have much narrower bands with light dorsal body color than specimens from the rest of India. Specimens from Maharastra and South Indian region sometimes have broader bands.
Ventral body- Belly color Glossy White. Subcaudal scales paired in Zig-Zag manner.
Head- Head pointed with large A shape rostral. It is slightly broader or not than neck. Upper lip color is lighter than head color which can be whitish, yellowish or olive colored. A specific A shape mark (in Zebra pattern) present which starts from frontal, pass through parietal and touches 1-3 ventrals. Eyes have rounded pupil. Tongue color shiny red. Sharp Kukri knife shape teeth present on back side of mouth which are useful to tear eggs from side.
Tail- Normal as typical range and pointed tip. Typical blackish bands present in most of the cases.
Key Characters for Identification-
Look alikes- Krait, Common Wolf, Banded Krait(juvenile).
- Brown body with Black bands.
- Head has “A” shape marking in Zebra pattern.
Head- 7(rarely 6 or 8) Supralabials; 3rd & 4th touches eyes; 1 Preocular; Loreal 1 or absent; 2(rarely 1) Postocular; Temporals 1+2.
Dorsal- Scales smooth with 17-17-17 on front and 15-15 on posterior body.
Ventral- 161-199(M) 166-204(F); Anal divided.
Subcaudal- 41-59 and divided.
Behavior-Common Kukri is a nocturnal species. It remains hidden in dark and silent places during day time. The snake lives in termite mounds, under heavy rocks, caves, dense dry leaves, wood caves, piles of brick, wood, rock, dump etc. They always prefer a dark surrounding.
It feeds on small prey including insects, larvae, reptile eggs, small mice, skinks and geckos etc.
On provocation they flatten their whole body, make their body S shape with neck some height above the ground and show full alertness.
Reproduction - Mating period not very known but it could reproduce whole year. In the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra young are seen during the months of November to June, in South India from monsoon to Summer. Female lays 3-9 eggs.
Common Kukri is a small species and not so common in rescues. Human habitat especially gardens and dark places attract this species due to presence of their shelter and prey. In rescues they found near garden, grass, rotten leaves, brick piles, under pots, doormat & tiles etc. As it is small, shy and totally harmless species and rarely comes directly in human contact, rescuers must release it very close to the rescue spot and travelling & Relocating should not be done in any case.