Uropeltis ceylanica

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Uropeltis ceylanica
Silybura shortii.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Uropeltidae
Genus: Uropeltis
Species: U. ceylanica
Binomial name
Uropeltis ceylanica
Cuvier, 1829
  • Uropeltis ceylanicus Cuvier, 1829
  • Uropeltis Ceylanicus - Cocteau, 1833
  • Uropeltis ceylonica - Wagler, 1830
  • Pseudo-typhlops ceylanicus - Schlegel, 1839
  • Siluboura Ceylonicus - Gray, 1845
  • U[ropeltis]. Ceylonicus - Gray, 1845
  • [Coloburus] Ceylanicus - A.M.C. Duméril & A.H.A Duméril, 1854
  • Siluboura ceylonica - Gray, 1858
  • Silybura ceylanica - Peters, 1861
  • Silybura brevis Günther, 1862
  • C[oloburus]. Ceylanicus - Jan, 1863
  • Silybura nilgherriensis Beddome, 1863
  • Siluboura ceylanica - Günther, 1864
  • S[ilybura]. ceylonica - Günther, 1875
  • Silybura nilgherriensis var. annulata Beddome, 1886
  • Silybura brevis - Boulenger, 1893
  • Silybura ellioti var. annulata - Boulenger, 1893
  • Uropeltis ceylanicus - M.A. Smith, 1943
  • Uropeltis (Siluboura) ceylanicus - Mahendra, 1984
  • U[ropeltis]. ceylanicus annulata - Murthy, 1990[2]
Common names: Ceylon earth snake, Cuvier's shieldtail, Kerala shieldtail.

Uropeltis ceylanica is a nonvenomous shield tail snake species found in southern India. No subspecies are currently recognized; but the presence of several synonyms, many recently resurrected calls for further taxonomic studies of this species complex.[3]

Geographic range[edit]

Found in the Western Ghats of southern India in (Kerala)Castle Rock to Travancore (Anaimalai Hills), and in the southern ranges from Kunjithanni (Idikki District) to Trivandrum. The type locality given is "Ceylan"—a mistake, since this species has never been found in Sri Lanka.[2]


The dorsum is brown or blackish brown; sometimes patterned with spots or streaks. The ventrum is yellowish; some specimens have dark brown spots or are entirely brown. The ventral side of the tail is brown or black in the middle, and yellow on the sides.

Adults may attain a total length of 45 cm (17 34 in).

Dorsal scales are arranged in 17 rows at mid-body (in 19 rows behind the head). Ventrals are 120-146; subcaudals are 8-12.

The snout is rounded. The rostral is ¼ the length of the shielded part of the head. Portions of the rostral are visible from above and shorter than its distance from the frontal. Nasals are in contact with each other behind the rostral. The frontal is slightly longer than it is broad. The diameter of the eye is more than half the length of the ocular shield. The total length of the snake is 21 to 29 times the diameter of the body. The ventrals are 2 times as large as the contiguous scales. The end of tail is flat dorsally, obliquely truncate, with strongly keeled scales which are bicarinate, tricarinate, or quadricarinate. It has a terminal scute with a transverse ridge and 2 points.[4]


  1. ^ Srinivasulu, C.; Srinivasulu, B.; Ganesan, S.R. & Vijayakumar, S.P. (2013). "Uropeltis ceylanicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b 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).
  3. ^ "Uropeltis ceylanica". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 1 September 2007. 
  4. ^ Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families...Uropeltidæ... Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). London. pp. 158-159. (Silybura brevis)

Further reading[edit]

  • Beddome, R.H. 1863. Descriptions of New Species of the Family Uropeltidæ from Southern India, with Notes on other little-known Species. Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1863: 225-229, Plates XXV., XXVI., XXVII.
  • Beddome, R.H. 1863. Further Notes upon the Snakes of the Madras Presidency; with some Descriptions of New Species. Madras Quart. J. Med. Sci., 6: 41-48. [Reprint: J. Soc. Bibliogr. Nat. Sci., London, 1 (10): 306-314, 1940]
  • Beddome, R.H. 1864. Descriptions of New Species of the Family Uropeltidæ from Southern India, with Notes on other little-known Species. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 13: 177-180.
  • Beddome, R.H. 1886. An Account of the Earth-Snakes of the Peninsula of India and Ceylon. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (5) 17: 3-33.
  • Cocteau, J.T. 1833. Sur le genre de reptiles ophidiens nommé Uropeltis par Cuvier, et description d'une espèce de ce genre. Mag. Zool. Guérin, Paris, Class. III, pl. 2.
  • Ganesh, S.R.; R. Aengals & Eric Ramanujam 2014. Taxonomic reassessment of two Indian shieldtail snakes in the Uropeltis ceylanicus species group (Reptilia: Uropeltidae). Journal of Threatened Taxa 6 (1): 5305-5314.
  • Gower, D.J.; Captain, A. & Thakur, S.S. 2008. On the taxonomic status of Uropeltis bicatenata (GÜNTHER) (Reptilia: Serpentes: Uropeltidae). Hamadryad 33 (1): 64 – 82.
  • Gray, J.E. 1858. On a new Genus and several New Species of Uropeltidæ, in the Collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 2: 376-381.

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