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iridescent shieldtail, M. bilineatum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Uropeltidae
Genus: Melanophidium
Günther, 1864[1]
Common names: Black shield tail snake

Melanophidium is a genus of nonvenomous shield tail snakes endemic to the Western Ghats of India. These species are identifiable by having a mental groove in their chin shields. Currently, four species are recognized, including one newly described species.[2]

Natural History[edit]

Their very smooth and glossy skin is said to be highly iridescent and is functional in warding off debris during burrowing. They are typically fossorial and nocturnal, becoming active during rainy nights.[3]

Geographic range[edit]

Found in India in the Western Ghats: from Tirunelveli Hills in Tamil Nadu, at the southern tip of the country, northwards up to the Amboli[disambiguation needed] Hills in Maharashtra.[4]


Species[2] Taxon author[2] Common name Geographic range[1][4]
M. bilineatum Beddome, 1870 Two-lined black shieldtail Wayanad hills in the Western Ghats: in Peria and Tirhoot Peaks, west of Manantoddy
M. punctatum Beddome, 1871 Spotted black shieldtail Southern Western Ghats: in Travancore (900–1500 m elevation) and the Anamalai Hills, south of the Palghat Gap.
M. wynaudenseT (Beddome, 1863) Wayanad black shieldtail Central Western Ghats: from Wayanad to Manantoddy District, Coorg up to Agumbe Ghats, at 900–1500 m elevation
M. khairei Gower, Giri, Captain & Wilkinson, 2016 Khaire's black shieldtail Western India in the Northern Western Ghats, of Goa and Maharashtra states.

T) Type species[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ a b c "Melanophidium". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 1 September 2007. 
  3. ^ Rajendran M. V. ( 1985) Studies in Uropeltid Snakes. Madurai university Press, Madurai.
  4. ^ a b GOWER, DAVID J.; VARAD GIRI, ASHOK CAPTAIN, MARK WILKINSON 2016. A reassessment of Melanophidium Günther, 1864 (Squamata: Serpentes: Uropeltidae) from the Western Ghats of peninsular India, with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 4085 (4): 481–503.

External links[edit]