Travancore Wolf Snake (Lycodon travancoricus)
Distribution - South India(Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerela); whole western Ghats upto Konkan area of Maharastra including Mumbai; Jabalpur(Madhya Pradesh), Orrisa, Andhra Pradesh(Eastern Ghats).
Status - Common in Western Ghats upto Konkan area, South India. Uncomon in Orrisa, Andhra Pradesh; records from Madhya Pradesh need review.
Length- Adults measure approx. 60cm, but can grow up to 73cm.
Dorsal body- Body shape slender with shiny smooth scales of same size. Body blackish with purple, brown mostly. Pale or faint yellow bars start from neck to tail with black patches; may become faint on tail side. In few adults bands become very faint and almost invisible. They are narrow at the top while become reticulated on side dorsals.
Ventral body- Belly entirely glossy white. Subcaudal scales paired in most of the cases, but few or all could be unpaired.
Head- Head depressed; clearly broader than neck. Upper lip color mostly brown or black sometimes. Eyes entirely black; tongue color reddish.
Tail- Normal length tail with faint bands of yellow color.
Key Characters for Identification-
Look alikes- Common Wolf, Yellow Spotted Wolf, Kraits.
- Shiny purple-black body with yellow cross bars.
- To distinguish between Krait and Travancore Wolf, color of bands is most significant feature, milky white in Kraits and Yellow in Travancore Wolf.
Head- 9 Supralabials; 3rd to 5th touches eyes; 1 Preocular; 1 Loreal(not touches internasal); 2 Postocular; Temporals 2+3 or 3+3.
Dorsal- Shiny smooth scales of same size, 17-17 in front body while 15-15 in posterior body.
Ventral- 176-206; anal undivided.
Subcaudal- 64-76; paired or unpaired(rarely)
Behavior-Travancore Wolf Snake is basically a hill species and more common in high altitude. Like other Wolf Snakes, it is also a nocturnal species; remain hidden in dark places during day time.
Feed mostly on geckos, small skinks; frogs and sometimes small rodents also.
Behavior calm than Common Wolf but can bite on rough handling. On provocation or threatening hide its head between its coil and make ball like structure. On further disturbance acts like other wolf snakes and creeps in jumpy manner.
Reproduction - Mating is during end of winter to summer; lays 2-6 eggs in dark and dry places.
Travancore Wolf is not a common species in most of its distribution areas. In case of rescues(mostly in South India) this species must be released very close to rescue site because no one can know about its population in new releasing site. Every rescuer should apply his full attempt to release it on the rescue area(under 100mtr) to ensure about its natural population in the area.