English Name : Rat snake
Scientific Name :Ptyas mucosa
Tamil Name : Sarai Pambu
Description: It has Scales that are smooth and with head broader than neck. Its upper rows are distinctly keeled. It is large eyed with rounded pupil. There is lots of variation in color from pale yellow to olive, brown, gray or black. Body lightly or strongly marked with black markings usually distinct on tail. Underside often has dark bands
Distribution & Status: Throughout India including the Andaman and Nicobars from sea level upto 4,000 m
Habitat:. Inhabits a wide range of habitats- coastal, arid, wet, mountainous, open fields a s well forests. Rat holes and termite mounds are preferred dwellings. It is seen in paddy fields, tall grass, trees, storage places and houses.
Habits: This is a very fast snake. An active and alert diurnal hunter that can climb well. When threatened it puffs up it throat, hisses and strike with force. If cornered will inflate throat and forebody, emit a moan or growl and strike vigorously. The harmless bite can be sometimes painful.
Food: It feeds on frogs, toads, lizards, birds, rats, bats, snakes. Rat snakes do not constrict but subdue larger prey by holding it down. Smaller prey is swallowed alive.
Life cycle: Clutches of about 8-22 eggs are laid between March – September. They hatch about 60 days after they are laid.
Role in the environment: As the cobra rat snake also preys on rats in paddy fields hence could be considered as friend of the farmer.
Photo source: Dr. J. Subramanean