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Shieldtail Snakes: Uropeltidae


Shieldtail snakes make their homes in forests that may be in low areas or on the sides of mountains, usually preferring places with moist or wet ground. They also live in gardens and farm fields, including rubber plantations. Unlike most digging snakes that only push through loose soil, the shieldtails will also tunnel through quite hard, clay soils. In addition, they will scoot under leaves or logs.


Some scientists believe that the shieldtail snakes burrow through the ground with an odd jerking movement. According to this idea, the snakes twist up the backbone behind the head so that it is curved back and forth and then quickly push the backbone out straight to burst the head forward. In other words, the back acts like a spring that is squeezed together and then let loose. By repeating this movement and scooting up the body each time, the snake digs through the soil. This is the same type of jerking movement used by pipe snakes, but pipe snakes use it to force the head forward as a way of gulping down large prey.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesShieldtail Snakes: Uropeltidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Nilgiri Burrowing Snake (plectrurus Perrotetii): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, SHIELDTAIL SNAKES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS