Eryx johnii

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Eryx johnii
Red Sand Boa Eryx johnii by Ashahar alias Krishna Khan.jpg
At Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae
Genus: Eryx
Species: E. johnii
Binomial name
Eryx johnii
(Russell, 1801)
Common names: Indian sand boa,[3] red sand boa, brown sand boa.

Eryx johnii is a nonvenomous boa species endemic to Iran, Pakistan, and India. No subspecies are currently recognized.[4]


The specific name, johnii, is in honor of German naturalist Christoph Samuel John (1747–1813), who was a missionary in India from 1771 until his death.[5]


E. johnii

Adults rarely exceed 2 feet (61 cm) in total length (including tail), although they sometimes reach 3 feet (91 cm). Adapted to burrowing, the head is wedge-shaped with narrow nostrils and very small eyes. The body is cylindrical in shape with small polished dorsal scales. The tail, which is blunt, rounded, and not distinct from the body, appears truncated. Coloration varies from reddish brown to dull yellow-tan.

Geographic range[edit]

E. johnii is found from Iran through Pakistan into western, southern, and northwestern India. The type locality given is "Tranquebar" (Tanjore, Trichy, southeastern Tamil Nadu, India).[2] and found in Indian desert.


The snake is found in dry, semi-desert scrub plains and rocky dry foothills. It prefers loose sand, or sandy soil that crumbles easily. The Indian sand boa which is also called the Eryx John also lives underground.


The diet consists mainly of mammals such as rats, mice, and other small rodents that are killed by constriction. Some specimens have apparently fed exclusively on other snakes.[6]


E. johnii is ovoviviparous, with females giving birth to up to 14 young at a time.

Illegal trade[edit]

Red sand boas have many superstitious beliefs attributed to them because of their double-headed appearance, such as bringing good luck, curing AIDS, etc. Such blind faith has resulted in endangering the species, and in illegal trade in India, despite being a protected species under Schedule II of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, of India.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2013). "Esacaus recurvirostris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  3. ^ Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  4. ^ "Eryx johnii". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 8 July 2008. 
  5. ^ Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Eryx johnii, p. 135).
  6. ^ Sights, Warren P. (1949). "Annotated list of reptiles taken in western Bengal". Herpetologica. 5 (4): 81–83. 
  7. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Boulenger GA. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. London: Secretary of State for India in Council. (Taylor and Francis, printers). xviii + 541 pp. (Eryx johnii, p. 248, Figure 76).
  • Boulenger GA. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families ... Boidæ ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I-XXVIII. (Eryx johnii, pp. 127–128).
  • Daniels JC. 2002. The Book of Indian Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 252 pp. ISBN 0-19-566099-4.
  • Das I. 2002. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of India. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. 144 pp. ISBN 0-88359-056-5. (Eryx johnii, p. 14).
  • Gray JE. 1849. Catalogue of the Specimens of Snakes in the Collection of the British Museum. London: Trustees of the British Museum. (Edward Newman, printer). xv + 125 pp. (Clothonia johnii, pp. 110-111).
  • Günther ACLG. 1864. The Reptiles of British India. London: The Ray Society. (Taylor & Francis, printers). xxvii + 452 pp. + Plates I-XXVI. (Eryx johnii, pp. 334-335).
  • Hallowell E. 1848. Description of a species of Eryx from Madras. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia 1848: 184.
  • Russell P. 1801. A continuation of an account of Indian serpents: containing descriptions and figures from specimens and drawings, transmitted from various parts of India to the hon. Court of Directors of the East Indian Company. Volume 2. London: W. Bulmer and Co. 53 pp.
  • Smith MA. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-region. Reptilia and Amphibia, Vol III.—Serpentes. London: Secretary of State for India. (Taylor and Francis, printers). xii + 583 pp. (Eryx johni johni, pp. 113–114, Figure 35).

External links[edit]