A new species of shieldtail snake (Reptilia: Squamata: Uropeltidae) from Kolli Hill complex, southern Eastern Ghats, peninsular India

Main Article Content

S.R. Ganesh
N.S. Achyuthan


We describe a new species of shieldtail (uropeltid) snake, Uropeltis rajendrani sp. nov., from the Kolli Hill complex of the southern Eastern Ghats in Tamil Nadu, India.  The new species belongs to the U. ceylanica group and is differentiated from related species in having 16–17:16–17:15–16 dorsal scale rows; 145–158 ventral scales; 8–11 pairs of subcaudals; dorsum uniform brown, anteriorly powdered with yellow mottling; venter brown, scales outlined with yellow.  This endemic species with a restricted range is known only from atop Kolli Hill complex, inhabiting higher elevation (> 900m) evergreen forests, where it is the only known member of this genus.

Allopatric species, endemism, isolated massif, Uropeltis rajendrani sp. nov., Western Ghats. 

Article Details

Author Biography

S.R. Ganesh, Chennai Snake Park, Rajbhavan Post, Raj Bhavan post, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600020, India.



Aengals, R. & S.R. Ganesh (2013). Rhinophis goweri — A new species of shieldtail snake from the southern Eastern Ghats, India. Russian Journal of Herpetology 20(1): 61–65.

Agarwal, I., A.M. Bauer, V.B. Giri & A. Khandekar (2019). An expanded ND2 phylogeny of the brookii and prashadi groups with the description of three new Indian Hemidactylus Oken (Squamata: Gekkonidae). Zootaxa 4619(3): 431–458.

Agarwal, I., A. Khandekar, V.B. Giri, U. Ramakrishnan & K.P. Karanth (2019). The hills are alive with geckos! A radiation of a dozen species on sky islands across peninsular India (Squamata: Gekkonidae, Hemiphyllodactylus) with the description of three new species. Organisms Diversity & Evolution 19: 341–361. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13127-019-00392-5 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13127-019-00392-5

Beddome, R.H. (1886). An account of the earth-snakes of the peninsula of India and Ceylon. Annals and Magazines of Natural History 17(5): 3–33.

Ganesh, S.R. & M. Arumugam (2015). Microhabitat use and abundance estimates of understorey herpetofauna in the highlands of southern Eastern Ghats, India, with observations on roadkill mortalities. Asian Journal of Conservation Biology 4: 143–150.

Ganesh, S.R. & M. Arumugam (2016). Species richness of montane herpetofauna of southern Eastern Ghats, India: a historical resume and a descriptive checklist. Russian Journal of Herpetology 23(1): 7–24.

Ganesh, S.R., R. Aengals & E. 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. https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3636.5305-14 DOI: https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o3636.5305-14

Ganesh, S.R., A. Kalaimani, P. Karthik, N. Baskaran, R. Nagarajan & S.R. Chandramouli (2018). Herpetofauna of southern Eastern Ghats, India – II from Western Ghats to Coromandel Coast. Asian Journal of Conservation Biology 7(1): 28–45.

Ganesh, S.R. (2015). Shieldtail snakes (Reptilia: Uropeltidae) – the Darwin’s finches of south Indian snake fauna? pp: 13–24. In: Kannan, P. (Ed.). Manual on identification and preparation of keys of snakes with special reference to their venomous nature in India. Proceedings by Govt. Arts College, Udhagamandalam, Tamil Nadu, India, 42pp.

Gower, D.J. & J.D. Ablett (2006). Counting ventral scales in Asian anilioid snakes. The Herpetological Journal 16: 259–263.

Gower, D.J., A. Captain & S.S. Thakur (2008). On the taxonomic status of Uropeltis bicatenata (Günther) (Reptilia: Serpentes: Uropeltidae). Hamadryad 33(1): 64–82.

Jins, V.J., F.L. Sampaio & D.J. Gower (2018). A new species of Uropeltis Cuvier, 1829 (Serpentes: Uropeltidae) from the Anaikatty Hills of the Western Ghats of India. Zootaxa 4415(3): 401–422.

McDiarmid, R.W., J.A. Campbell & T.A. Toure (1999). Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. The Herpetologists’ League, Washington DC, 511pp.

Pyron, R.A., H.D. Kandambi, C.R. Hendry, V. Pushpamal, F.T. Burbrink & R. Somaweera (2013). Genus-level phylogeny of snakes reveals the origins of species richness in Sri Lanka. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66(3): 969–978.

Pyron R.A., S.R. Ganesh, A. Sayyed, V. Sharma, V. Wallach & R. Somaweera (2016). A catalogue and systematic overview of the shield-tailed snakes (Serpentes: Uropeltidae). Zoosystema 38(4): 453–506.

Rajendran, M.V. (1985). Studies in uropeltid snakes. Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, India, 132pp.

Smith, M.A. (1943). Fauna of British India including Ceylon and Burma. Vol–III Serpentes. Taylor & Francis, London, 583pp.

Wallach, V., K.L. Williams & J. Boundy (2014). Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. CRC Press, 1237pp. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1201/b16901

Whitaker, R. & A. Captain (2004). Snakes of India – The Field Guide. Draco Books, Chengelpet, South India, 481pp.

Most read articles by the same author(s)