Monday, October 26, 2009

First record of Typhlops thurstoni from Waynad, Kerala

Thphlopst thurstoni is one of the 5 species of worm snakes found in the South India. It belongs to a premitive fossorial family of snakes called Typhlopidae. The Thurston’s worm snake(Typhlops thurstoni)was described by Boettger(1890) with the specimen collected from Nilgiris. This snake has been rare and is Known from only 4 specimens (Smith, 1943)and hence its distribution pattern has been confusing. With the physical parameters, the snake can be confusing with the Brahmini worm snake(Ramphotyphlops braminus), the Beddome’s worm snake(Typhlops beddomei) and Tindall's worm snake(Typhlops tindalli) which are also found in parts of the western ghats.
During a visit to Mananthawadi town in Waynad district on 21 December 2008, i happened to find a worm snake which did not look like any of the other worm snakes mentioned above. The 1 foot snake was collected and scalation details were collected and the snake was identified as Typhlops thurstoni. The snake was comparatively longer and thicker than other species of worm snakes except for beaked worm snake. It had 20 Scales rows around the body with 561 transverse scale rows. The Snout rounded, Rostral ½ as broad as head, Eyes indistinct, Scales on head indistinct, Tail ends in a single spine and the Nasal incompletely divided.
Smith (1943) records 4 specimens from 3 areas of Nilgiris, Trissur, Cochin state. There have been No confirmed reports thereafter. Hence this is the first record of this species from Mananthawadi, Waynad which now adds to its distribution.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Importance of Sacred grooves

Recently i had been to a sacred groove in kannur, kerala to study its herpetofauna. Sacred grooves play an important role in the conservation of amphibians and reptiles. Sacred grooves are patches of forested areas which have a religious importance and hence is protected. These places are locally known as sarpa kavu due to the abundance of snakes. Though no snakes were sighted, their presence was obvious as a shed skin of a Spectacled cobra was found. An Elliot's forest lizard(Calotes ellioti) was also found on a tree. The amphibians found there were Fungoid frog(Hydrophylax malabaricus), Yellow tree frog(Polypedates pseudocruciger) and Philautus wynaadensis. Though it is not possible to understand the importance of sacred grooves, just by these sightings, It is very important to protect these few remaining habitats.

Herping in Waynad

Hill Keelback(Amphiesma monticola)
Philautus anili

Recently i had been on a trip to waynad in kerala.Several species of frogs were found.The rains had trigered the breeding of several frogs.There was an outburst of Fejervarya braviplamata & Hoplobatrachus tigerinus.Four malabar gliding frogs(Rachophorus malabaricus) were found. Two Ramanella montana were found with their tadpoles in a tank. Breeding activity of the golden frog(sylvirana auranticus) was observed.The newly described Philautus anili was also found.Two Icthyophis bedddoemi were found in leaf littter.Several Nictibatrachus sp & their tadpoles were seen on wet rocks near streams. Many reptiles such as the hump nosed pit viper, hill keelback & elliots calotes were also found.