New species of non-venomous aquatic snake discovered in Western Ghats

Sep 29, 2017 09:32 IST
New species of non-venomous aquatic snake discovered in Western Ghats

Aquatic Rhabdops, a new species of non-venomous aquatic snake was identified and described as new species from northern Western Ghats in Maharashtra, Goa and North Karnataka.

The snake has been misidentified since 1863. The new species was earlier was considered as a variant of Olive Forest Snake, first described in 1863.

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However, a new study has confirmed that Aquatic Rhabdops has different colours and patterns and also vary in other features of size, shape and structure, and also genetic make-up.

The study regarding the discovery was recently published in journal Zootaxa.

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Key highlights

Aquatic Rhabdops snakes belong to genus Rhabdops which are endemic to India.

The species has been named after its aquatic nature since the adults are mostly associated with freshwater forest streams and juveniles are seen in water-logged areas.

The three-foot-long nocturnal snake hunts for prey underwater.

Adults of the Aquatic Rhabdops have off-white bellies and black spots on their olive brown skin, juveniles are olive green, with yellow undersides. This colour difference in life stages could possibly be due to the different local habitats.

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