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Silybura shortii.jpg
Ceylon earth snake, U. ceylanica
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Uropeltidae
Genus: Uropeltis
Cuvier, 1829
Common names: shieldtails, earth snakes.

Uropeltis is a genus of nonvenomous shield tail snakes endemic to peninsular India. As of 2017, 23 species are recognized.[2]

Geographic range[edit]

Most Uropeltis species are found in hills of peninsular India, mainly in southwestern parts of the country, including the Western Ghats and to some extent, also in the Eastern Ghats and in hills of Central India.[1]


Eye in the ocular shield. No supraoculars. No temporals. No mental groove. Tail conical or obliquely truncated, terminating in a small scute, the end of which is square, or bicuspid with the points side by side.[3]


Species[2][4] Taxon author[2][4] Common name Geographic range[1][4]
U. arcticeps (Günther, 1875) Tinevelly shieldtail Tirunelveli Hills
U. beddomii (Günther, 1862) Beddome's shieldtail Anaimalai Hills
U. bhupathyi Jins, Sampaio, & Gower, 2018 Bhupathy’s shieldtail Tamil Nadu
U. bicatenata (Günther, 1875) two-chained shieldtail Pune Hills
U. broughami (Beddome, 1878) Brougham's shieldtail Palni Hills
U. ceylanicaT Cuvier, 1829 Cuvier's shieldtail Western Ghats south of Goa.
U. dindigalensis (Beddome, 1877) Dindigul shieldtail Sirumalai Hills
U. ellioti (Gray, 1858) Elliot's shieldtail Hills of peninsular India
U. grandis (Beddome, 1867) Smith's earth snake Anaimalai Hills
U. liura (Günther, 1875) Günther's shieldtail Southern Western Ghats
U. macrolepis (Peters, 1862) Bombay shieldtail Northern Western Ghats
U. macrorhyncha (Beddome, 1877) Ponachi shieldtail Anaimalai Hills
U. maculata (Beddome, 1878) spotted shieldtail Anaimalai Hills
U. madurensis (Beddome, 1878) Madura earth snake Meghamalai
U. myhendrae (Beddome, 1886) barred shieldtail Agasthyamalai Hills
U. nitida (Beddome, 1878) Cochin shieldtail Anaimalai Hills and Nelliyampathi.
U. ocellata (Beddome, 1863) Nilgiri shieldtail Western Ghats south of Nilgiris .
U. petersi (Beddome, 1878) Peters' shieldtail Anaimalai Hills
U. phipsonii (Mason, 1888) Phipson's shieldtail Northern Western Ghats
U. pulneyensis (Beddome, 1863) Palni shieldtail Southern Western Ghats
U. rubrolineata (Günther, 1875) red-lined shieldtail Southern Western Ghats.
U. rubromaculata (Beddome, 1867) red-spotted shieldtail Anaimalai Hills.
U. shorttii (Beddome, 1863) Shevaroy Hills earth snake Yercaud
U. woodmasoni (W. Theobald, 1876) Palni shieldtail, black-bellied shieldtail Palni Hills .

* Not including the nominate subspecies.
T Type species.[1]

Nota bene: A taxon author in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Uropeltis.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré TA (1999). Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ a b c "Uropeltis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
  3. ^ Boulenger GA (1893). Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families ... Uropeltidæ ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I-XXVIII. (Genus Silybura, p. 144).
  4. ^ a b c "Uropeltis ". The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.

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 Silybura, p. 257, Figure 81).
  • Cuvier [G] (1829). Le Régne Animal Distribué, d'après son Organisation, pour servir de base à l'Histoire naturelle des Animaux et d'introduction à l'Anatomie Comparé. Nouvelle Edition, Revue et Augmentée [second edition]. Tome II [Volume 2]. Les Reptiles. Paris: Déterville. xv + 406 pp. (Uropeltis, new genus, pp. 76–77). (in French).
  • Das I (2002). A Photographic Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of India. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. 144 pp. ISBN 0-88359-056-5. (Genus Uropeltis, pp. 59–60).
  • 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 Uropeltis, p. 73).
  • Wall F (1921). Ophidia Taprobanica or the Snakes of Ceylon. Colombo, Ceylon [Sri Lanka]: Colombo Museum. (H.R. Cottle, Government Printer). xxii + 581 pp. (Genus Uropeltis, pp. 23–25, Figures 7-9).
  • Ganesh SR (2015). Shieldtail snakes (Reptilia: Uropeltidae)– the Darwin's finches of south Indian snake fauna? Manual on Identification and Preparation of Keys of Snakes with Special Reference to their Venomous Nature in India., Govt. Arts College, Ooty, 13-24.
  • Pyron RA, Ganesh SR, Sayyed A, Sharma V, Wallach V, Somaweera R (2016). "A catalogue and systematic overview of the shield-tailed snakes (Serpentes: Uropeltidae)". Zoosystema 38 (4): 453-506.

External links[edit]