Green Keelback (Macropisthodon plumbicolor)
English - Grass Snake
Distribution The species is distributed almost all over India up to Bengal in the East. It is not found on the Eastern Coast. The species may not be present in North India.
Status - Common.
Length- Adults measure approx. 60sm, but can grow up to 94cm.
Dorsal body- Body shape stout with highly keeled green colored scales. Sometime Yellow mixed color exists on side dorsal surface. Juveniles have irregular black bands on the whole body and they become faint or totally absent in adults. In some places, both the adults and the juveniles may have inter-scalar sky-blue or milky white color. One or Two “A” shape markings of Black color present on neck clearly in juveniles between them clear yellow color exists. They have sharp rear fangs for a better grip on their prey and can be observed during their natural hunt.
Ventral body- Belly entirely glossy white or grayish in color, with the edges greenish in color. Subcaudal scales paired in a zigzag manner, their color is similar to ventral scales but sometimes can be darker or more yellowish.
Head- Head rounded with smooth shiny scales. Head is slightly broader than the neck. Blackish color patches are present in an irregular or asymmetrical manner. Eyes have rounded pupil. Tongue color shiny black on the front and pinkish red on posterior side.
Tail- The tail also has highly keeled scales. Normal as typical range with pointed tip. Tail color almost same like rest of the dorsal body.
Key Characters for Identification-
Look alikes- Green Pit Vipers, Checkered Keelback from Central Indian morphology.
When threatened, it tends to show a “False Hood” and thus sometimes referred to as a “Green Colored Cobra”.
- Body green in color with Black patches or bands. Juveniles have a yellow neck.
- Neck has yellow and black colored “A” shaped markings.
Head- 7 Supralabials; 3rd & 4th touches eyes; 2 Preocular; Loreal 1 or joined with lower preocular sometimes; 3 Postocular; Temporals 2+3.
Dorsal- Scales highly keeled with 23/25 on front, 25/27 on middle and 17/19 on posterior body.
Ventral-144-162; Anal divided most of times.
Subcaudal- 39-48(M) 34-43(F); always divided in Zig-zag manner.
Behavior-Green Keelback is a nocturnal and crepuscular species. Active mostly during dusk and down. It remains hidden in dark and silent places during day time. Lives in grass, gardens, bushes, etc also they prefer some dark and moist surrounding. Feed mostly on toads, and sometimes frogs and lizards.
It’s a silent species in handling and rarely bites. On provocation they flatten their neck in “Cobra Style”, at some height above the ground and show their full alertness.
Reproduction - Mating is during summer till the start of November. The female lays about 6 to 14 eggs in a clutch preferably in dry places. The hatchlings come out of the eggs during August to March.
Green Keelback is one of the 3 common Green color snakes (others are Green Vine and Bamboo Pit Viper) of India. It is totally harmless & non venomous small species and rarely comes in contact with humans as it like to live in grass and gardens and not inside human houses. Their release in new places is strictly opposed by experts. We should always release this snake in 50-100mtr range from the rescue site.