Sibynophis sagittarius

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Sibynophis sagittarius
Cantor's black-headed snake Sibynophis sagittarius by Ashahar alias Krishna Khan.jpg
Specimen from Uttarakhand
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Sibynophis
Species: S. sagittarius
Binomial name
Sibynophis sagittarius
(Cantor, 1839)
  • Calamaria sagittaria
    Cantor, 1839
  • Ablabes sagittarius
    Günther, 1864
  • Polyodontophis sagittarius
    Boulenger, 1890
  • Sibynophis sagittarius
    M.A. Smith, 1943
  • Sibynophis sagittaria [sic]
    – Das, 1996[1][2]

Sibynophis sagittarius, commonly known as Cantor's black-headed snake,[3] is a species of snake endemic to South Asia.[2]

Geographic range[edit]

It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, central and northeastern India, Nepal, and Pakistan.


Adults may attain 28 cm (11 inches) in total length, with a tail 6 cm (2⅜ inches) long.

As the common name implies, the dorsal surface of the head, including the nape of the neck, is black or dark brown, followed by a thin yellow nuchal collar. Also, there are two large elongate yellowish spots, one on each side of the back of the head. The upper surface of the body is pale brown, and the sides of the body are darker brown or gray. On each flank there is a thin black stripe separating the differently colored areas. A series of small black dots, widely separated, run down the vertebral row of dorsal scales. The underside is yellow, with a black dot at each outer end of every ventral.

The smooth dorsal scales, which lack apical pits, are arranged in 17 rows. Ventrals 205-228; anal plate divided; subcaudals 56-70, divided (paired).[4]


Sibynophis sagittarius is found in forests.[3]


It is not arboreal, but rather hunts by day on the forest floor.[3]


It feeds on insects, frogs, skinks, and snakes.[3]


An oviparous species, it lays a clutch of as many as six eggs.[3]


  1. ^ Boulenger, 1893, p. 187.
  2. ^ a b Sibynophis sagittarius at the Reptile Database. Accessed 28 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Das, Indraneil. 2002. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of India. Ralph Curtis Books. Sanibel Island, Florida. 144 pp. ISBN 0-88359-056-5 (Sibynophis sagittaria [sic], p. 45.)
  4. ^ 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). London. xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I.-XXVIII. (Polyodontophis sagittarius, pp. 181, 187-188.)

5. Snakes of Bangladesh (

Further reading[edit]

  • Cantor, T. 1839. Spicilegium Serpentium Indicorum [second part]. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1839: 49-55.
  • Captain, A.; D. J. Gower, P. David & A. M. Bauer 2004 Taxonomic status of the colubrid snake Sibynophis subpunctatus (Dumeril, Bibron & Dumeril, 1854). Hamadryad 28 (1&2): 90-94
  • Das, I. & Palden, J. 2000 A herpetological collection from Bhutan, with new country records. Herpetological Review 31 (4): 256-258