Researcher discover rare mud snake in Kerala

Researcher discover rare mud snake in Kerala

Dr Bijukumar of Aquatic Biology Department of University of Kerala has discovered a rare species of mud snake in Vellayani Lake.

There is very little information available about the rare snake. There are very few photographs of the snake in live condition. Mainly, the only information is what comes from the specimen with the Hamburg and Paris Museums while no specimens are available in any of the Indian museums.

Mr. Bijukumar said, “Since they live in the mud, they escape attention of human beings. The fishermen in the Vellayani lake said they have come across these snakes while excavating the mud on the margins of the lake.”

These snakes are known as `Kanda pampu’ (paddy snake) in southern Kerala and `Cheli kutta’ (mud snake) in the North. The snake discovered has been identified as rare Kerala mud snake (Enhydris dussumieri) which is apparently the only water snake endemic to Kerala.

The snake has dark orange brown above, with blue iridescence in sunlight while the ventral side has light pinkish brown colour with three continuous lines running across. The species is timid and inoffensive unlike other snakes in the country. Locals say that its bite is slightly venomous and is painful.

The snake feeds on fish and frogs and gives births to snakes unlike other snakes that lay eggs. The Indian variety is represented by four species, namely the Kerala, the Rainbow, Soebold's and Boie's mud snakes. The kerala snake has very little information about it due to its rare distribution.

“There is no information about the biology, habitat or the feeding nature of these snakes. Probably, there could be more than one species in the marshes there. Somebody has to take up a detailed study,” added Bijukumar.

The species will now be part of the collection of the Bombay Natural History Society. As the news of the discovery reached Ashok Captain who is a world-renowned snake expert and photographer he arrived in Thiruvananthapuram to take live pictures of the snake.

“Much remains to be studied scientifically about this endemic mud snake of Kerala, particularly on its biogeography, biology and genetic linkages,” says Ashok Captian.

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