Uropeltis phipsonii

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Uropeltis phipsonii
Phipson's shield tail.JPG
Uropeltis phipsonii
photographed at Mulshi, Pune, India
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Uropeltidae
Genus: Uropeltis
Species: U. phipsonii
Binomial name
Uropeltis phipsonii
(Mason, 1888)
  • Silybura phipsonii
    Mason, 1888
  • Uropeltis phipsoni
    M.A. Smith, 1943
  • Uropeltis phipsonii
    Rajendran, 1985

Uropeltis phipsonii, commonly known as Phipson's shieldtail, is a species of snake endemic to India.


Both the specific name, phipsonii, and the common name, Phipson's shieldtail, are in honor of British naturalist Herbert Musgrave Phipson, one of the founders of the Bombay Natural History Society.[3]

Geographic range[edit]

It is found in the Western Ghats, reported at several localities around Maharashtra including hills around Mumbai and Pune.


Cylindrical-bodied, smooth-scaled, head narrower than the neck. Tail very short, appears to be cut slant-wise. A broad yellow stripe on each side of the tail.

Brown dorsally and ventrally, either uniform or with yellowish dots. A short yellow streak on each side beginning at the corner of the mouth. A yellow crossbar across the vent connecting the yellow stripes on the sides of the tail.

Adults may attain 28 cm (11 inches) in total length.

Dorsal scales arranged in 17 rows at midbody, in 19 rows behind the head. Ventrals 144-157; subcaudals 7-12.

Snout obtusely pointed. Rostral ⅓ the length of the shielded part of the head. Portion of the rostral visible from above longer than its distance from the frontal. Nasals in contact with each other behind the rostral. Frontal longer than broad. Diameter of eye more than ½ the length of the ocular shield. Diameter of body 28 to 38 times in the total length. Ventrals nearly twice as large as the contiguous scales. End of tail flat dorsally, obliquely truncate, with strongly bicarinate or quadricarinate scales. Terminal scute with a transverse ridge and two points.[4]


Largely unknown, lives underground, a burrower. Active above ground after heavy rains. Eats earthworms. A docile snake that has many predators including birds and wild boar.


  1. ^ Srinivasulu B, Srinivasulu C, Giri V, Thakur S (2013). "Uropeltis phipsonii". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Uropeltis phipsonii ". The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org
  3. ^ Beolen B, Watkins M, Grayson M (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Uropeltis phipsonii, pp. 206-207).
  4. ^ 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. (Silybura phipsonii, p. 155).

Further reading[edit]

  • Mason GE (1888). "Description of a new Earth-Snake of the Genus Silybura from the Bombay Presidency with Remarks on other little-known Uropeltidae". Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., Sixth Series 1: 184-186. (Silybura phipsonii, new species, pp. 184-185).
  • Rajendran M (1985). Studies in Uropeltid Snakes. Madurai: Madurai University Press. 132 pp.
  • 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. (Silybura phipsoni, p. 82).
  • Whitaker R, Captain A (2004). Snakes of India – the Field Guide. Chenai: Draco Books. 500 pp.

External links[edit]