Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vine Snakes of Sri Lanka

Vine snakes belonging to the colubridae family with few number of species. In Sri Lanka there are two vine snake species have been identified by herpetologists till now. Vine snakes are well known among the people due to the mythical believes.

1) Green Vine Snake

                                                            

Green vine snake is a slender arboreal snake belonging to the genus "Ahaetulla". Its scientific name is "Ahaetulla Nasuta" which is the same name sri lankans used to call it. Sri Lankans call it "ඇහැටුල්ලා" (Ahaetulla) or "ඇස්ගුල්ලා" (As gulla) which means the eye plucker, people believe this snake attack to the eye and pluck it off, makes no sense..all these are mythological believes. Since it's an arboreal snake and likes to hang on small tree branches and vines, most of the time people get bitten in face areas. maybe that helped to pop up such a myth among people. The coloration of the snake helps it to blend well with the habitat of the snake. This camouflage is hard to spot and humans are aware of it and gets bitten.

Green vine snake is distributed through out the island except high hill areas. It's a common snake in the land up to 1000m from sea level. Dorsal coloration is mostly bright green although there are nasutas with brownish color (Not Pulverulenta). Green vine snake can grow up to around 150cm in length. At birth baby vine snakes measures around 30cm. There is a small tip at end of the long snout which is easy to identify. Head is covered with elaborately shaped scales. Unlike other common snakes Ahaetulla species have horizontal pupils in their convex eye. The eye sight of Ahaetulla is sensitive to even small movements. Having a sharp eyesight is a characteristic of all arboreal snakes.