English Name :Buff striped Keelback
Scientific Name : Amphiesma stolatum
Tamil Name : Nirkittan kutti
Description: Slender bodied with keeled scales. Brown back with distinct ribbon like yellowish band from neck to tip of tail. Forebody has additional black or brown bars yellow spots that fade towards the tail. Head light or olive brown above. Throat white or yellow. Striped Keelback closely related and resemble water snakes
Distribution and status. Throughout mainland India up to 2,000 m in the hills. Common.
Habitat It is one of India’s most common diurnal snakes. Rice fields, pond edges, thick grass and bushes are favored.
Habits: It spends nights sleeping under rocks, holes, or the branches of trees, or bushes. A remarkably graceful and inoffensive little snake, this is common in paddy fields, grassy and cultivated areas of open country. It seldom bites when handled hence making it the right snake for the amateur herpetologist. Its beautiful blue or vermillion coloration is displayed when alarmed by flattening the neck and forebody.
Food: It is active during the rainy season and young feed on insects, tadpoles, small toads and frogs while adults prefer frogs but toads, snails, small lizards and rodents are also taken. It can be seen hunting prey early in the mornings and evenings
Life cycle: Breeding takes place throughout the year and the mother normally stays with the eggs and incubates it. Eggs are pure white in color and form a cluster. Females are considerably longer than males and adults are close to 40 cm in length. It resembles the other non venomous trinket snake. During the breeding season there is congregation of males and females. It used to be commonly seen in the countryside around Chennai.
Role in the environment: It is an important component of the grassland ecosystem. It sometimes falls prey to terrestrial birds which thrive on this snake. Often mistaken to be the young one of a Cobra and killed.
Photo source: Dr. J. Subramanean