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Xenochrophis piscator (Schneider, 1799)

Checkered Keelback, Xenochrophis piscator , snake, water snake


Xenochrophis
Xenochrophis is a genus of snakes belonging to family colubridae which are endemic to Asia. They are often referred as painted keelback. The current genus was acknowledged by Günther in 1964. Etymologically, Xenochrophis derived from Greek words viz., Xenos - strange; chroma - colour; ophis - snake; which denotes a strange - coloured snake. It is represented by thirteen species worldwide viz., Xenochrophis asperrimus (Boulenger, 1891); Xenochrophis bellula (Stoliczka, 1871); Xenochrophis cerasogaster (Cantor, 1839); Xenochrophis flavipunctatus (Hallowell, 1860); Xenochrophis maculatus (Edeling, 1864); Xenochrophis melanozostus (Gravenhorst, 1807); Xenochrophis piscator (Schneider, 1799); Xenochrophis punctulatus (Günther, 1858); Xenochrophis sanctijohannis (Boulenger, 1890); Xenochrophis schnurrenbergeri (Kramer, 1977); Xenochrophis trianguligerus (Boie, 1827); Xenochrophis tytleri (Blyth, 1863) & Xenochrophis vittatus (Linnaeus, 1758). 

Checkered Keelback | Xenochrophis piscator (Schneider, 1799)
Checkered Keelback (Xenochrophis piscator) is a common species of non-venomous snake found within Asia under family colubridae (Natricidae).

This is the widely distributed species of snakes under the genus Xenochrophis. Morphologically, it is capricious snake in color and pattern. It can be easily identified by examining blackish dots over the dorsal surface on greenish brown color. The average length of the species is recorded 90 cm & maximum 175 cm.

Scientific classification
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Reptilia
Order:
Squamata
Suborder:
Serpentes
Family:
Colubridae
Genus:
Xenochrophis
Species:
 piscator
Binomial name
Xenochrophis piscator (Schneider, 1799)
Head of these snakes is triangular with smooth and shiny scales; clearly distinct from neck. There are two black streaks that originate from the eyes and ends after reaching the posterior part of lip & the color of area b/w the streaks is usually brighter than rest of head. Two yellowish-black dots are can be seen on the internal side of the parietal scales which may be lacking in adults. 


The eyes in this species are somewhat smaller & shorter than its distance from the nostril (in adults) & having rounded pupil. The dorsal body is covered with keeled scales while smoother on lateral rows. The scales in the individuals of this species can have 2-4 different colors within a single specimen, however generally the specimens found are having dark olive green colour with blackish- brown, reddish & yellowish blotches are observed. Juveniles of the species can be seen having clear olive green color with black blotches over the body and two yellow linings dorsally. On the ventral portion the belly is usually had yellowish-white color or white mixed with red or green rarely whereas the sub-caudal scales are paired in a zigzag manner. 

Tails of these snakes are also shielded with highly keeled scales. The size of the tail is of usual length which is pointed towards tip. Color is almost as rest of the dorsal body but without any markings. Temporal scales in the individuals are 2+2 or 2+3. There are 9 upper labials, with the 4-5 touches the eyes while 5 lower labials which are in contact with the anterior chin-shields. Dorsal scales are arranged in 19:19:17 and are strongly keeled having outer rows remains smooth. Ventral scales are 120–158, anal mostly divided, with sub-caudal scales of 64–90. 

Checkered Keelback is a species which shows its activity at any time of the day. However can be found during early morning & evening mostly.Behavior is excessively alert, aggressive and very quick to respond. To show its alertness and aggression this species expands much of its fore body to show false hood. While when threatened they always try to escape at first by creeping or by jumping manner but if cornered it tries to bites in very aggressive manner. The species is oviparous and mating occurs in winters till summer after which females of the species lays around clutch of 90 eggs. New born's can be observed from May to whole monsoon periods.

Characters of species observed in Bhopal, MP
Characteristics
Range
Full body length
720 mm-855 mm
Snout-vent length
522 mm-650 mm
Tail length
190 mm-220 mm
**Dorsal  scales (A:M:P)
13:17:15
Supra-labial scales
8/8
Infra-labial scales
9/9
Ventral scales
135-157
Anal scale
Divided
Sub-caudal scales
89-98
**Note: A- Anterior; M-Midbody; P-Posterior

These snakes can subsist at any type of water body viz., lakes, river, pond, sewer line, logged water or in agricultural lands, wells or in surroundings without any water resource. Diet includes fishes, rodents, frogs & toads; their tadpole even on the household material viz., rejected meat. They also show scavenger feeding. The snakes of this species widely distributed in southeast Asia & found in countries like Srilanka, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, West Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and Indonesia. 

Prime threat of these snakes is that has been observed is the killing by way of vehicular movements near the forest trail or even in residential places (as its settlement near human habitation). 

Literature Cited: 

Acharji, M.N. and Kripalani, M.B. 1952. On a collection of Reptilia and Batrachia from the Kangra and Kulu Valleys, Western Himalayas. Records of Indian Museum, 49 (2): 175-184. 

Aengals, R., Kumar, S.V.M. and Palot, M.J. 2012. Updated Checklist of Indian Reptiles (http://www.lacertilia.de/AS/Bibliografie/BIB_6715.pdf.). 

Agarwal, I., Mistry, V.K. and Atreya, R. 2010. A preliminary checklist of reptiles of Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, West Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Russian Journal of Herpetology, 17 (2): 81-83. 

Ali, W., Arshad J., Syed M. H., Hamda A. and Ghazala J. 2016. The Amphibians and Reptiles Collected from Different Habitat Types in District Kasur, Punjab, Pakistan. Pakistan J. Zool., 48(4): 1201-1204 - get paper here

Anderson, J. 1871. On some Indian reptiles. Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1871: 149-211 - get paper here

Avadhani, R. 2005. Snakes of India. Reptilia (GB) (41): 32-37 - get paper here

Bhupathy, S. and Sathishkumar N. 2013. Status of reptiles in Meghamalai and its environs, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa, 5 (15): 4953-4961 - get paper here

Boulenger G. A. (1890) The fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma, Reptilia and Batrachia. London: Taylor and Francis. 

Boulenger G. A. (1896) Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Vol. 3, London: Taylor and Francis. 

Chandra K., and Gajbe P. U. 2005. An inventory of herpetofauna of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Zoos' Print Journal, 20 (3): 1812-1819 

Chandra, K. and Gajbe, U.P. 2005. An inventory of Herpetofauna of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Zoos’ Print Journal, 20 (3): 1812-1819. 

Daniel, J.C. 1983. The Book of Indian Reptiles. Bombay Natural History Society, Oxford University press, Mumbai, India. 

Daniel, J.C. 2002. The Book of Indian Reptiles and Amphibians. Bombay Natural History Society, Oxford University press, Mumbai, India. 

Duda, P.L. and Sahi, D.N. 1977. An uptodate checklist of herptiles of Jammu & Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir University Review, 6 (10): 1-7. 

Fellows, S. 2015. Species Diversity of Snakes in Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve. Entomol Ornithol Herpetol., 4: 136. doi:10.4172/2161-0983.1000136 

Ganesh S. R., and Asokan J. R. 2010. Catalogue of Indian herpetological specimens in the collection of the Government Museum Chennai, India. Hamadryad, 35 (1):46-63. 

Ganesh S. R., Chadramouli S. R., Sreekar R. and Shankar P. G. 2013. Reptiles of the Central Western Ghats, India- a reappraisal and revised checklist, with emphasis on the Agumbe Plateau. Russian Journal of Herpetology. 20 (2):134-142. 

Ganesh, S.R. and Asokan, J.R. 2010. Catalogue of Indian herpetological specimens in the collection of the Government Museum Chennai, India. Hamadryad, 35 (1):46-63 

http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Xenochrophis&species=piscator 

http://www.indiansnakes.org/content/checkered-keelback 

http://www.snakesofuttarakhand.in/checkered-keelback.html 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkered_keelback 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenochrophis 

Kannan P. and Venkatraman, C. 1998. Reptile fauna of Siruvani Hills, Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, Tamil Nadu.Cobra, 33: 6-9 

Khaire, N.K. 2010. “Snakes”, In: Milind, L.P. (Eds.). Jyotsna Prakashan Dhavalgiri, Pune, India. 

Khaire, N.K. 2015. “Indian Snakes a field guide”, In: Milind, L.P. (Eds.). Jyotsna Prakashan Dhavalgiri, Pune, India. 

Khan, Q.A. and Khan, S.M. 1996. Snakes of state of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Proceedings of. Pakistan Congress of Zoology, 16: 173-182. 

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 of 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 

Murthy, T. S. N. 1990. Illustrated Guide to the Snakes of the Western Ghats, India. Records of the Zoological Survey of India, Occasional Paper No. 114 

Murthy, T.S.N. 1990. Illustrated Guide to the Snakes of the Western Ghats, India. Records of the Zoological Survey of India, Occasional Paper No. 114 

Murthy, T.S.N. and Sharma, B.D. 1976. A contribution to the Herpetology of Jammu and Kashmir. British Journal of Herpetology, 5: 533-538. 

Murthy, T.S.N. and Sharma, B.D. 1979. Second report on the herpetofauna of Jammu and Kashmir. The snake, 11: 234-241. 

Sahi, D.N. 1979. A contribution to the herpetology of Jammu and Kashmir. Ph.D. Thesis submitted to University of Jammu (Unpublished). 

Sahi, D.N. and Duda, P.L. 1985. A checklist and keys to the amphibians and reptiles of Jammu and Kashmir State, India. Bulletin of Chicago Herpetological Society, 20 (3-4): 86-97. 

Sahi, D.N. and Duda, P.L. 1986. Affinities and distribution of amphibians and reptiles of Jammu and Kashmir state (India). Bulletin of Chicago Herpetological Society, 21(3-4): 84-88. 

Saikia, U., Sharma, D.K. and Sharma, R.M. 2007. Checklist of reptilian fauna of Himachal Pradesh. Reptile Rap, 8: 6-9. 

Smith, M.A. 1943. “Fauna of British India”, Reptilia and Amphibia. Vol. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor and Francis, London. 

Srinivasulu C., and Das I. 2008. The herpetofauna of Nallamala Hills, Eastern Ghats, India: an annotated checklist, with remarks on nomenclature, taxonomy, habitat use, adaptive types and biogeography. Asiatic Herpetological Research, 11: 110–131 

Thite, V. K. and Nerlekar, A. N. 2012. Checkered keelback water snake Xenochropis piscator (Schneider, 1799) in the diet of Garden Calotes Calotes versicolor (Daudin, 1802). Herpetology Notes, (5): 518 

Vogel, G. and David, P. 2006. On the taxonomy of the Xenochrophis piscator complex (Serpentes, Natricidae). Herpetologia Bonnensis II, pp. 241-246 

Vogel, G. and David, P. 2012. A revision of the species group of Xenochrophis piscator (Schneider, 1799) (Squamata: Natricidae). Zootaxa, 3473: 1–60 

Wallach, V., Williams, K. L. and Boundy, J. 2014. Snakes of the World: A catalogue of living and extinct species. Taylor and Francis, CRC Press. 

Whitaker, R. 2006. “Common Indian snakes” a field guide. Macmillan India press, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. 

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Herps Of Doda: Xenochrophis piscator (Schneider, 1799)
Xenochrophis piscator (Schneider, 1799)
Checkered Keelback, Xenochrophis piscator , snake, water snake
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Herps Of Doda
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