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Shieldtail Snakes: Uropeltidae

Nilgiri Burrowing Snake (plectrurus Perrotetii): Species Account

Physical characteristics: One of the larger species in this family, the Nilgiri burrowing snake can reach 17.3 inches (44 centimeters) in length. They are tube-shaped snakes with purplish brown to brown backs and bellies that are often either a light brown or yellowish color. In some species, the bellies are spotted with a lighter color, and each of these spots is located right in the center of a belly scale. The head is flattened from top to bottom. The tail is tipped with a spiny, cup-shaped scale.

Geographic range: The snake lives in Nilgiri and the Anamalai Hills in southern India.

Habitat: Most of the snakes found by people are buried about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) deep in the very rich soil of gardens One of the larger species in this family, the Nilgiri burrowing snake can reach 17.3 inches (44 centimeters) in length. (Illustration by Bruce Worden. Reproduced by permission.) or farm fields. The snakes especially like soil with lots of manure mixed into it. Farmers and gardeners often use manure, which contains many nutrients, to fertilize their soil and help their plants to grow. The snakes live high up on hillsides.

Diet: The Nilgiri burrowing snake eats mainly worms.

Behavior and reproduction: They spend much of their time in burrows, but if the weather turns cooler, they will move out of their homes and explore piles of manure that farmers and gardeners have left above the ground. They give birth to baby snakes rather than laying eggs. Females have three to six babies at a time, usually in July or August. Scientists know little else about their behavior or reproduction.

Nilgiri burrowing snakes and people: These snakes and people rarely see or bother each other.

Conservation status: The Nilgiri burrowing snake is not listed as endangered or threatened, but scientists know little about the size of the snake's population. ∎



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Web sites

"Family Uropeltidae (shield-tailed snakes and short-tail snakes)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/pictures/Uropeltidae.html (accessed on September 22, 2004).

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