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 edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Boiga
B. westermanni
Binomial name
Boiga westermanni
Reinhardt, 1863
Elachistodon westermanni distribution.png

Elachistodon westermanni

The Indian egg-eating snake or Indian egg-eater (Boiga 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]

Indain Egg Eater.jpg


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]


It 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. 2013: e.T7091A3136878. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T7091A3136878.en.
  2. ^ Boiga 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 Journal. 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. hdl:2246/3997.

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).