Indian egg-eating snake

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Indian egg-eater snake
Indian egg eater snake Elachistodon westermanni by Krishna Khan Amravati.jpg
Indian egg-eater at Amravati
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Elachistodon
Reinhardt, 1863
Species: E. westermanni
Binomial name
Elachistodon westermanni
Reinhardt, 1863
Elachistodon westermanni distribution.png

The Indian egg-eating snake or Indian egg-eater (Elachistodon westermanni ) is a rare species of egg-eating snake found in the Indian subcontinent. It is also called Westermann's snake, reflecting its scientific name.[1] The snake belongs to the monotypic genus Elachistodon.[2]


The specific name, westermanni, is in honor of Dutch zoologist Geraldus Frederick Westermann (1807–1890).[3]

Geographic range[edit]

The Indian egg-eating snake is found in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. Recent discoveries of the species come from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana.[4][5][6][7]


This species is glossy brown to black, with bluish white flecks posteriorly and a middorsal creamy stripe from neck to tail tip. The head is brown with a black arrow mark. The ventrals are white with brown dots. Adults may attain a total length of 78 cm (31 inches), with a tail 11 cm (4¼ inches) long.[8]


The Indian egg-eating snake is a diurnal[1] or nocturnal, terrestrial species that shows remarkable dexterity in scaling vegetation. When provoked, it raises the anterior portion of the body, forming ‘S’ shaped coils as a defensive strategy.[7]


Elachistodon westermanni exclusively feeds on bird eggs that lack embryonic growth. It has special adaptations such as vertebral hypapophyses, projections of the cervical vertebrae, that jut into the oesophagus, are enamel-capped, and help in cracking eggs.[8] The only other snakes that share these egg-eating adaptations are in the genus Dasypeltis found in Africa.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Srinivasulu C, Srinivasulu B, Vyas R, Thakur S, Mohapatra P, Giri V (2013). "Elachistodon westermanni". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2013: e.T7091A3136878. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Elachistodon at the Reptile Database. Accessed 13 April 2017.
  3. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Elachistodon westermanni, p. 282).
  4. ^ Captain A, Tillack F, Gumprecht A, Dandge P (2005). "First record of Elachistodon westermanni Reinhardt 1863 (Serpentes, Colubridae, Colubrinae) from Maharashtra State, India". Russian Journal of Herpetology. 12 (2): 156–158. 
  5. ^ Nande R, Deshmukh S (2007). "Snakes of Amravati district including Melghat, Maharashtra, with important records of the Indian egg-eater, montane trinket snake and Indian Smooth Snake" (PDF). Zoos' Print. 22 (12): 2920–2924. doi:10.11609/jott.zpj.1653.2920-4. 
  6. ^ Sharma V (2014). "On the distribution of Elachistodon westermanni Reinhardt, 1863 (Serpentes, Colubridae)". Russian Journal of Herpetology. 21 (3): 161–165. 
  7. ^ a b Visvanathan A (2015). "Natural history notes on Elachistodon westermanni Reinhardt, 1863". Hamadryad. 37 (1–2): 132–136. 
  8. ^ a b Boulenger GA (1896). Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History), Volume III., Containing the Colubridæ (Opisthoglyphæ and Proteroglyphæ) ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I-XXV. (Subfamily Elachistodontinæ, p. 263; Genus Elachistodon, p. 263; species E. westermanni, p. 264).
  9. ^ Gans, Carl; Oshima, Masamitsu (1952). "Adaptations for egg eating in the snake Elaphe climacophora (Boie)". American Museum Novitates. 1571: 1–16. 

External links[edit]

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. (Genus Elachistodon, pp. 362–363; E. westermanni, p. 363).
  • Günther ACLG (1864). The Reptiles of British India. London: The Ray Society. (Taylor and Francis, printers). xxvii + 452 pp. + Plates I-XXVI. (Elachistodon westermanni, Appendix [p. 444]).
  • Reinhardt [JT] (1863). "En ny Slægt af Slangenfamilien Rachiodontidæ ". Oversigt over det Kongelige danske Videnskabernes Selskabs Forhandlinger 1863: 198-210. (Elachistodon, new genus, p. 206; E. westermanni, new species, pp. 206–210 + Figures 1-7). (in Danish and Latin).
  • 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. (Genus Elachistodon, p. 404; E. westermanni, pp. 404–405, Figure 132).