Uropeltis shorttii

Uropeltis shorttii

Uropeltis shorttii, Shevaroy hills earth snake, Shortt's shieldtail snake

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Uropeltis shorttii

Uropeltis shorttii, also known as the Shevaroy Hills earth snake or Shortt's shieldtail snake, is a species of non-venomous snake endemic to the Southern Eastern Ghats of India. This species was first described as Silybura shorttii by Richard Henry Beddome, in 1863. It is found only in the Shevaroy Hills of Salem district in Tamil Nadu state in South India. This species was misclassified into Uropeltis ceylanica, a snake endemic to the Western Ghats, for a long time, till a recent taxonomic study proved it to be a distinct species with a very narrow geographic range. It is a burrowing snake, presumed to be nocturnal; feeding on soft-bodied worms. Becomes active during the rains. Shevaroy HilIs Earth Snake (Uropeltis shorttii) has most recently been assessed for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2019. Uropeltis shorttii is listed as Critically Endangered under criteria B1ab(iii).

Animal name origin

Named after its collector Dr. John Shortt, a physician in the Madras Army, who donated the type specimens to Col. Richard Henry Beddome, who first described this species.


A small (< 30 cm (12 in) long) dark bluish black coloured burrowing snake, with distinct yellow cross bands across. Rostral visible from above, smaller than nasal, not completely separating nasals; nasals in contact with one another posteriorly, prefrontals not in contact with rostral, subequal in size to nasal and ocular scales; nasals pierced by nostril, divided by rostral anteriorly but in contact with each other posteriorly; prefrontals somewhat larger than nasals and oculars, subequal to frontal; frontal longer than broad, distinctly smaller than parietal; parietals large, largest of all head scales; supralabials 4,4 (left, right), 1st and 2nd ones small, 3rd below eye, 4th the largest; infralabials 3,3 (left, right), elongate; mental scale small, subequal to 1st infralabial, but as wide as long; body scales imbricate, cycloid; dorsally around body in 19 (one head length after neck): 17 (at midbody): 17–15 (one head length before vent) rows; ventrals 141–156 (148.5±10.6), angulate laterally; anals 2, left overlapping right, each larger than a body scale; subcaudals 10–12 pairs +1 terminal scale; tail shield distinctly truncate above, mildly concave, circumscribed and ridged; covered with 30–31 (30.5±0.7), bi- and tri-carinate thickened scales; 10 scales across the length and 4–5 (4.5±0.6) across the width of the tail shield.

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The dorsum is dark coffee brown with distinct bright yellow cross bars formed by series of yellow blotches across consecutive scales in dorsal scale rows; 34–47 (41±7.0) such cross bars present on body and tail; venter largely yellowish with dark brown spots and blotches, the dark spots restricted mostly to either side where ventral scales contact the outermost coastal scale rows; a pair of thick yellow stripes anteriorly along the neck and forebody on scale rows 3–5, the stripes extending to the level of the 36th–48th (42±8.4) ventral scale; the stripe passing through lower half of supralabials, below the ocular scale and upper half of infralabials; eye pale whitish-grey; inside of mouth pale pink; tongue of same colour, its tips lighter.

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1. Uropeltis shorttii Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uropeltis_shorttii

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