New snake species found in Himachal Pradesh

December 25th, 2008 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Dec 25 (IANS) A new species of blind snake has been discovered for the first time in Himachal Pradesh, with a 287 mm long specimen having 25 rows of scales around its shiny dark brown body found from a village in the state’s Mandi district.This species, large worm snake, was classified by scientists of the Solan-based Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).

Its scientific name is Typhlops diardii of family Typhlopidae.

The scientists - H.S. Mehta, Uttam Saikia and D.K. Sharma - have got the sample of the species from a village in Mandi district.

“Worm snakes are harmless blind species found mainly in Southeast Asia. They are burrowing reptiles that lead a secretive life. Because of the subterranean mode of existence, they are rarely seen and probably one of the reasons for little knowledge about their biology and ecology,” Mehta told IANS.

The worm snake was found by a farmer in Sarkaghat tehsil of Mandi district while digging a pit in his mango orchard.

The specimen of the worm snake has been kept in the ZSI laboratory.

“The total length of the snake specimen is 287 mm. Its tail length is 65 mm. This specimen corresponds to the subspecies T. diardii diardii i.e. western large worm snake,” he said.

The large worm snake looks like an earthworm but grows up to 430 mm in length. They feed on earthworms and like moist conditions.

Saikia said reptile fauna was one of the least studied animal groups in this hill state.

“The Russell’s viper, checkered keelback and the rat snake are among the common snake species in the state,” he said.

Himachal Pradesh, which supports diverse types of forests, has 13,082 sq km under dense and open forests, which constitutes 23 per cent of the total geographical area of the state. This storehouse of biodiversity supports 3,120 species of flowering plants, besides 5,721 species of fauna, which is about seven percent of the total animal life recorded in the country.

However, only 100 species of vertebrate and invertebrate fauna are observed regularly, according to a biodiversity report of the Himachal State Council for Science, Technology and Environment.

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