Ptyas mucosa

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Ptyas mucosa
Indian Rat Snake (Grey and Yellow).jpg
Indian Rat Snake (Grey and Yellow)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Ptyas
P. mucosa
Binomial name
Ptyas mucosa
Scale pattern
An oriental rat snake found in southern India.

Ptyas mucosa, commonly known as the oriental ratsnake,[1] Indian rat snake,[3] 'darash' or dhaman,[1] ghora pachar( घोड़ा पछाड़)is a common species of colubrid snake found in parts of South and Southeast Asia. Dhamans are large snakes. Typical mature total length is around 1.5 to 1.95 m (4 ft 11 in to 6 ft 5 in) though specimens exceeding 2 m (6 ft 7 in) are often not uncommon. The record sized length for this species was recorded as 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in), second in size perhaps only to their cousin Ptyas carinata among all known living colubrid snakes.[4][5] Despite their large size, oriental ratsnakes are usually quite slender with even a specimen of 2 m (6 ft 7 in) commonly measuring 4 to 6 cm (1.6 to 2.4 in) only around in diameter.[6] Furthermore, the average weight of ratsnakes caught in Java was around 877 to 940 g (1.933 to 2.072 lb), though larger males of over 2.3 m (7 ft 7 in) (which average mildly larger of the two sexes in the species) may easily weigh over 2.5 kg (5.5 lb).[7] Their colour varies from pale browns in dry regions to nearly black in moist forest areas. Dhamans are diurnal, semi-arboreal, non-venomous, and fast-moving. Dhamans eat a variety of prey and are frequently found in urban areas where rodents thrive.

Geographical names[edit]

The species is also known as:
Sr. Name Pronunciation Language
1. বাইৰখ Bairokh Assamese
2. দাড়াশ;




3. ಜೇರೋತನ Jerothana Kannada
4. ചേര

മഞ്ഞ ചേര


Manja Chera

5. धामण Dhaaman Marathi
6. ଢମଣା ସାପ Dhamanaa Saap Odiya
7. ගැරඩියා Geradiya Sinhala
8. சாரை பாம்பு Saarai Pambu Tamil
9. జెర్రిపోతు

జెర్రి గొడ్డు


Jerri Goddu

10. งูสิงหางลาย ngu sing hang lai Thai
11. धामन Dhaman Nepali
12. दिवड or दिवोड deevod Konkani

Geographic range[edit]

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, China (Zhejiang, Hubei, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan, Guangxi, Yunnan, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan), India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Bali), Iran, Laos, West Malaysia, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan (Sindh area), Thailand, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Nepal

Type locality: India.


Adult dhamans have no natural predators other than the king cobras that overlap them in range. Juveniles fear birds of prey, larger reptiles, and mid-sized mammals. They are wary, quick to react, and fast-moving. [8]

Dhamans and related colubrids are aggressively hunted by humans in some areas of their range for skins and meat. Harvesting and trade regulations exist in China and Indonesia but these often go ignored.[9]


Description from Boulenger's Fauna of British India: Reptilia and Batrachia volume of 1890:

Snout obtuse, slightly projecting;
eye large; rostral a little broader than deep, visible from above;
suture between the internasals shorter than that between the prefrontals;
frontal as long as its distance from the end of the snout, as long as the parietals or slightly shorter;
usually three loreals;
one large preocular, with a small subocular below;
two postoculars;
temporals 2+2;
8 Upper labials, fourth and fifth entering the eye;
5 Lower labials in contact with the anterior chin shields, which are shorter than the posterior; the latter in contact anteriorly.
dorsal scales in 17 rows at midbody, more or less strongly keeled on the posterior part of the body.
Ventrals 190-208;
anal divided;
subcaudals 95-135, divided.

Brown above, frequently with more or less distinct black crossbands on the posterior part of the body and on the tail;

young usually with light crossbands on the front half of the body.
Lower surface yellowish;
the posterior ventral and the caudal shields may be edged with black.[10]

It is the second largest snake in Sri Lanka, after Indian Rock Python.

Ptyas mucosa


Rat snakes, though harmless to humans, are fast-moving, excitable snakes. In captivity individuals remain highly territorial and may continue to defend their turf aggressively, attempting to startle or strike at passing objects. Rat snakes are diurnal and semiarboreal. They inhabit forest floors, wetlands, rice paddies, farmland, and suburban areas where they prey upon small reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Adults, unusually for a colubrid, prefer to subdue their prey by sitting on it rather than by constricting, using body weight to weaken prey.[8][11]

Rat snakes mate in late spring and early summer, though in tropical areas reproduction may take place year round. Males establish boundaries of territory using a ritualised test of strength in which they intertwine their bodies. The behaviour is sometime misread by observers as a 'mating dance' between opposite-sex individuals.[11] Females produce 6-15 eggs per clutch several weeks after mating.[8][11]

Adult members of this species emit a growling sound and inflate their necks when threatened. This adaptation may represent mimicry of the king cobra or Indian cobra which overlaps this species in range.[12] The resemblance often backfires in human settlements, though, as the harmless animal is then mistaken for a venomous snake and killed.[8][11]

Indian Rat Snake
Indian Rat Snake


The International Code for Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) directs that the grammatical gender of any given species name should follow logically from the gender of its associated genus name. As Ptyas is a feminine word form, the proper form of the species name is mucosa. Reference materials older than 2004 often show the masculine form, mucosus, and the CITES list continues to list the species this way.



  1. ^ a b c d The Reptile Database.
  2. ^ Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families...Colubridæ Aglyphæ, part. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, Printers). London. xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I.- XXVIII. (Zamenis mucosus, pp. 385-386.)
  3. ^ Das, I. 2002. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of India. Ralph Curtis Books. Sanibel Island, Florida. 144 pp. ISBN 0-88359-056-5. (Ptyas mucosa, p. 43.)
  4. ^ Auliya, M. (2010). Conservation Status and Impact of Trade on the Oriental Rat Snake Ptyas mucosa in Java, Indonesia. TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.
  5. ^ Das, I. (2015). A field guide to the reptiles of South-East Asia. Bloomsbury Publishing.
  6. ^ Nicholson, E. (1893). Indian Snakes: An Elementary Treatise on Ophiology with a Descriptive Catalogue of the Snakes Found in India and the Adjoining Countries. Higgibotham and Company.
  7. ^ Sabarno, M.Y., Santosa, Y. & Prihadi, N. (2012). Trading System, Abundance and Habitat Characteristic of Oriental Rat-snake Ptyas mucosus (Linnaeus 1758) in Central Java. Bogor Agricultural University.
  8. ^ a b c d
  9. ^
  10. ^ Boulenger, G.A. (1890), "Reptilia and batrachia", The Fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma, London: Secretary of State for India in Council, 1 (Google eBook), retrieved 2012-03-13
  11. ^ a b c d
  12. ^ Young, B.A., Solomon, J., Abishahin, G. 1999 How many ways can a snake growl? The morphology of sound production in Ptyas mucosus and its potential mimicry of Ophiophagus. Herpetological Journal 9 (3):89-94

Further reading[edit]

  • David, P., and I. Das. 2004. On the grammar of the gender of Ptyas Fitzinger, 1843 (Serpentes: Colubridae). Hamaddryad 28 (1 & 2): 113-116.
  • Günther, A. 1898. Notes on Indian Snakes in Captivity. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., Series 7, 1: 30-31. (Zamenis mucosus, p. 30.)
  • Jan, G., & F. Sordelli. 1867. Iconographie générale des Ophidiens: Vingt-quatrième livraison. Baillière. Paris. Index + Plates I.- VI. ("Coryphodon Blumenbachi, Merr.", Plate III., Figures 2-4.)
  • Lazell, J.D. 1998. Morphology and the status of the snake genus Ptyas. Herpetological Review 29 (3): 134.
  • Linnaeus, C. 1858. Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, diferentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio Decima, Reformata. L. Salvius. Stockholm. 824 pp. (Coluber mucosus, p. 226.)
  • Morris, P.A. 1948. Boy's Book of Snakes: How to Recognize and Understand Them. A volume of the Humanizing Science Series, edited by Jacques Cattell. Ronald Press. New York. viii + 185 pp. ("The Indian Rat Snake", pp. 136–137, 181.)
  • Nixon, A.M.A., and S. Bhupathy. 2001. Notes on the occurrence of Dhaman (Ptyas mucosus) in the higher altitudes of Nilgiris, Western Ghats. Cobra (44): 30-31.