Amphiesma stolata, Linnaeus (1758)

Buff striped Keelback,Amphiesma stolata, snake

The species “Amphiesma stolata” commonly called as Buff striped Keelback is a non-venomous species of snakes which belong to family colubridae found throughout Asia. This snake species is a lone species which comes under genus Amphiesma. The snakes of this species are non-aggressive which mostly feeds on the amphibian species (frogs and toads) and other rodents. The species closely resemble to American garter snake. 

 In India it is one of the common species of snake and can be sighted during pre-monsoon to post monsoon periods more frequently, though can rarely be seen throughout the year.

Body color of the species is gray to olive-brown and is a small to medium size snake having long slender tail which is almost a quarter of its length. Two yellow-brown stripes run throughout the body of snakes on dorso-laterally from neck towards tail. The length of the species range from 130- 800 mm (average 500 mm).

The head of the species are distinctive from neck are yellowish in color on the lateral sides. The nape in these species becomes red onset of the breeding season. The ventral portion of head and varies from white, yellow to orange in color. On the front & behind the eyes a black color vertical marking can be observed in these species. The eyes of the snakes are large & have round pupils with golden speckles over the iris. The ventral side of the snakes in this species is light cream having black dots on the lateral sides of ventral scales. It is a distinctive & one of the main identifying characters of this species.

The species has keeled scales dorsally with irregular crossbars of blackish color on body which are more prominent towards the head & diffused towards the tail. Two distinct color variations are observed in this species – a typical one variety with grayish-blue inter-scale color are found everywhere. While the second is erythrostictus (has bright vermillion inter-scale color), which is commonly found in coastal areas. This inter-scale colour can be sighted only when the snake gets distressed.

The species is widely distributed in South and Southeast Asia viz., Cambodia, Pakistan, Philippines, SriLanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nepal, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Bhutan, Taiwan, China and India (Jammu), Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Assam, Bihar, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh & Punjab). 

It is a diurnal terrestrial species which can be sighted during day time at an optimum temperature. It mostly occupies habitat including wetlands, grasslands & agricultural lands, gardens where it hides under leaf litters, bushes, grass & rocky crevices. It is a species of shy nature and non-offensive, which can be tamed easily. It is believed that the species breeds throughout the year, while most of the juveniles are seen during monsoon-post-monsoon months (In central India). In these species females lays upto 16 eggs inside their hiding places. These are oviparous animals. 

These snakes are threatened with anthropogenic activities which includes killings (road kill) of these specimens because of vehicular movements mostly during monsoon months, loss of vegetation and declining amphibian population (main prey of this species) 
Morphological characteristics of the species which can be used for identification

Observation are based on the individuals observed in Madhya Pradesh & Jammu (J&K)
Full body length
450 mm-521 mm
Snout-vent length
374 mm-443 mm
Tail length
64 mm-125 mm
**Dorsal scales (A:M:P)
Supra-labial scales (3rd to 5th in contact with eyes)
Infra-labial scales
Ventral scales
Anal scale scales
1 pair
Sub-caudal scales
**Note: A- Anterior; M-Midbody; P-Posterior
Literature Cited:
Boulenger G.A.1890. The Fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma, Reptilia and Batrachia. London: Taylor and Francis. 

Daniel J.C. 2003. The book of Indian Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press. New Delhi. 

Manhas, A., Kotwal, A., Wanganeo, R.R. and Wanganeo, A., 2015. Diversity, Threats and Conservation of Herpetofauna in and around Barkatullah University, Bhopal (MP), India. Int. J. Adv. Res. 3: 1546-1553. 

Manhas, A., Raina, R. and Wanganeo, A. 2017. Current Status and Diversity of Ophidians (Reptilia: Squamata: Serpents) in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, Central India. Int. J. Cur. Micro. Appl. sci., 6 (5): 1384-1390. 

Manhas, A., Raina, R. and Wanganeo, A. 2018. Reptilian diversity of the Bhopal region of State Madhya Pradesh in Central India. IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians, 25 (2):104-114. 

Manhas, A., Raina, R., and Wanganeo, A. 2016. An addition to the reptilian diversity of Barkatullah University campus, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. Int. J. Pure Appl. Zool., 4 (4): 306-309.

Manhas, A., Raina, R., and Wanganeo, A., 2015. Snakes of the Bhopal district, Madhya Pradesh, India with special reference to road mortality. J. Res. Biol., 5: 1868-1873. 

Manhas, A., Raina, R., and Wanganeo, A., 2016. An assessment of reptilian diversity and their distribution in Jammu and Kashmir state from Jammu city in northern India: A case study. IJFBS 3: 20-23. 

Smith M.A.1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma including the whole of The Indo-Chinese Sub-region, Reptilia & Amphibia. Vol. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor & Francis, London. 

Whitaker R., and Captain A. 2004. Snakes of India, “The Field Guide”. Draco Books, Chennai, India.



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Herps Of Doda: Amphiesma stolata, Linnaeus (1758)
Amphiesma stolata, Linnaeus (1758)
Buff striped Keelback,Amphiesma stolata, snake
Herps Of Doda
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