Common Wolf Snake ( Lycodon aulicus Linnaeus, 1758 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Lycodon aulicus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Names: 
Hindi: 
Malayalam: 
Vellivarayan pampu, Chuvar pampu, Chennay Thalayan
Marathi: 
Kavdya
Kannada: 
ಕಟ್ಟಿಗೆ ಹಾವು
English: 
Indian Wolf Snake
Photographs: 
Adult form of Western Maharashtra
Distribution: 
All over the India including North-east, deserts, Himalayan region. Not found in Indian islands.
Family: 
Characteristics for identification: 

A small size snake found commonly inside human habitation. The is frequently misidentified with venomous snake Common Krait) General characters to distinguish between Common Wolf vs Common Kraits are:

  1. Short length (average length of 60cm to 84cm maximum) vs Medium length (average length of 100cm to nearly 150cm maximum)
  2. Light of brown color vs Glossy black with blue or purple tint.
  3. Yellowish bands vs Milky white bands.
  4. Broader bands vs Fine bands in paired or unpaired form.
  5. Bands on posterior body absent or very faint with most prominent bands on anterior side vs Bands on posterior body prominent than those found anteriorly.
  6. Head always bear a thick yellow collar vs head and much of neck region without any pattern or band.
  7. Absence of hexagonal scales on the top of dorsal (all dorsal scales of similar shaped) vs Presence of large size hexagonal scales on the top of dorsal which are much larger than adjacent scales.
  8. Paired subcaudal scales (scales under the tail) vs Unpaired (undivided like ventral scales) subcaudal scales
Description: 

New born- 14cm. 

Average length- 50cm. 

Maximum length- 84cm.

Dorsal -
Body slender with smooth & shiny scales of brown or brown mixed with greyish or reddish color. Yellow or yellowish-white bands present on whole dorsal body starting from neck and become faint on tail region; rarely absent entirely. Bands are narrow on the top of dorsal and become wider on side. Juveniles have prominent collar on neck which become narrow in adults. Number of bands varies between 10 to 25.

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

Head -
Head flattened, broader than neck and covered with smooth and glossy scales. Whitish or yellow color collar exist in widely distributed form of this species. Eyes entirely black in appearance with vertically elliptical pupil. Tongue color pinkish-red.

Tail -
Covered with smooth scales with or without bands. Length normal as typical range with pointed tip.

 

Scalation
Head: 
9 supralabials; 3rd to 5th in contact with eyes; 1 preocular; 1 loreal, in good contact with internasals; 2 postocular; 2 temporal 2+2 or 2+3.
Dorsal: 
Smooth scales with 17: 17: 15 rows, with single apical pit on each scale.
Ventral: 
172-214; angulate laterally; anal divided.
Sub Caudal: 
57-80; paired.
Habitat: 
Remain hidden in narrow cracks or under heavy objects during day time. Found in variety of forest covers including rainforest, dry and mixed deciduous forests, scrub lands. Lives mainly in rocky terrain, lands having cracks, human habitation etc. This is one of the most adapted snake species which is confined in modified habitats. Prefers heights and dry surrounding for foraging and hiding as its most preferred diet is Geckos. Juveniles occasionally seen under the rock laid on the ground.
Natural History: 
Common Wolf Snake is a nocturnal species which shows activity both on ground and heights of rocks. Behavior shy, alert and more aggressive than other Wolf Snakes (Lycodon). On provocation initially try to escape; later it makes coil or ball of whole body to hide its head under it. In aggressive mood it throws whole body into loose coil on ground and tries to bite. Also repeatedly bites on handling. Mating begins with starting of summer and extends to monsoon. Assumed to be capable of breeding most of the year depending upon geographical region. Female lays upto 7 eggs in cracks, small mounds, under the rocks and dark places at heights. New born mostly seen during whole monsoon to mid winters.
Diet: 
Feeds mainly on geckos; also feed on rodents and skinks.
Threats: 
Threats includes killing due to confusion & misidentification with venomous species Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus). People often consider it as a variety of Krait and immediately kill it. One more major threat is road kills which become prone in number during monsoon and early winter months. As this species is well confined in urban environment with not much natural facilities available, habitat destruction seems not much affecting its population.
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