Common Kukri ( Oligodon arnensis Shaw, 1802 )

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Scientific Name: 
Oligodon arnensis (Shaw, 1802)
Regional Names: 
Banded Kukri
સામાન્ય કુકરી
ಕುಕ್ರಿ ಹಾವು
East Indian form. West Bengal.
All over the India including deserts, Himalayan foothills. Not found in Northern parts of West Bengal to whole of North-east and Indian islands. Also found in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal.
Characteristics for identification: 

Can be identified easily by checking brown dorsal, blackish bands and black arrow shaped markings on head. ve “A” shape marking in Zebra pattern.


New born- 8cm.
Average length- 50cm.
Maximum length- 70cm.

Dorsal -
Body slender with glossy, subequal and smooth scales. Dorsal color grayish-brown with blackish bands present from neck to end of the tail. These bands are broadest on top and tapers on flank. Juveniles have dense bands as compared to adults. Number of such bands vary from 10 to 30 or very rarely absent.

Ventral -
Belly enamel white without any pattern. Subcaudal scales paired in zig-zag manner.

Head -
Snout pointed with large A shaped rostral, head slightly or not broader than neck. One specific A shape mark (in Zebra pattern) present on the top which starts from frontal, pass through parietal and reaches to 1-3 ventrals. Small ryes have rounded pupil. Sharp Kukri knife shape teeth present on back side of mouth which are useful to tear eggs from side and biting enemy.

Tail -
Prehensile, of normal length and ends with pointed tip. Typical blackish bands present in most of the individuals.

7 (rarely 6 or 8) supralabials, 3rd & 4th in contact with eyes; 1 preocular; loreal 1 or absent; 2 (rarely 1) postocular; temporals 1+2.
Scales smooth with 17 :17: 15 rows.
161-199 (Male) 166-201 (Female); anal mostly divided.
Sub Caudal: 
41-59 and divided.
Habitat includes variety of forests including rainforest, dry, mixed and moist deciduous forests, scrub forest, agricultural lands etc. Found in dense vegetation having loose roots, loose soil, garden, rocky terrain, wetness etc. This is one of commonest snake of India which is confined to modified habitat like agricultural lands, gardens and urban settlements. Remain hidden in mounds, piles, cracks, loose roots, under wooden logs during day time.
Natural History: 
Common Kukri is a nocturnal and semi-fossorial species which sometimes shows activity at day time also. Foraging is done terrestrially. Behavior shy, elusive and mostly non-offensive. On provocation throw its body into loose coil by folding tail and making loops of forebody at some height from ground. Inflated neck can be seen at the same time as aggressive response which is followed by mock attacks. On catching such aggressive individuals this species slits the skin of enemy from either side of head with sharp "Kukri knife" shaped tooth. New born usually seen from monsoon to late winters which is evidence that mating and egg laying occurs during most of the year. Female lays 3-9 eggs in narrow cracks, mounds, under loose roots of vegetation etc during summer and monsoon months.
Feeds on small prey including insects, larvae, reptile eggs, small rodents, skinks etc. It slits soft eggs with its "Kukri knife" shaped teeth, enter the head inside egg and take egg yolk only as diet.
Threats includes killing due to misidentification, road kills, digging its habitat as it’s a semi-fossorial species etc. However this species is well settled in manipulated lands also so habitat destruction seems not affeting its overall population.
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