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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 7:35 EDT

Buff-striped Keelback

The Buff-striped Keelback, Amphiesma stolatum, is a common species of non-venomous snake found across Asia. Its range extends from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Philippines, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia (Borneo, Sabah), Taiwan, and China (Hainan, Hong Kong, Fujian, Jiangxi). In India, the snake is found at altitudes up to 2,000 feet. It inhabits river banks, marshy areas and wetlands, but is also commonly found in fields, open countryside, and overgrown grassy patches during the monsoon season.

A small, slender snake, the Buff Striped Keelback is generally olive-brown to gray in color. The head and the body are of the same color. The body is short, and it has a long slender tail which is almost a quarter of its length. Two yellow stripes along the length and to the sides of the spine are the distinctive feature of this snake. These stripes are diffuse at the head and are especially bright on the second half of its body. The sides of the head are yellow and the head tapers to form a distinctive neck.

The nape is red during the breeding season. The chin and throats are white or sometimes orange. There are black vertical markings in front of and behind the large eyes. The eyes have large round pupils with golden flecks on the iris. The forked tongue is black. The underside is pale cream and has small black spots scattered along both the margins. It has keeled scales.

The Buff Striped keelback is usually 16 to 20 inches in length. The maximum length recorded is 35.5 inches. Females are consistently longer than the males.

The Buff Striped Keelback is diurnal, and although mostly seen on land, it can readily take to water. It has long rear-teeth for catching frogs and toads. It will also consume fish, small lizards, and rodents. Mating is believed to take place in late spring to early summer and eggs are laid in the late summer to early fall. The female lays clutches of 5 to 10 pure white eggs. . Females remain with eggs till they hatch. The young snakes are 13 to 17 cm at birth and eat small frogs, tadpoles and insects.

Buff-striped Keelback