A snake earlier thought to exist only in the Western Ghats has been spotted more than five times in the southern Aravallis,exciting naturalists a great deal since the finding is likely to rewrite the countrys reptile field guides.
The Montane Trinket snake,a small,non-venomous reptile that reaches lengths of 39 inches,has been found along the mountain range from Kerala to Maharashtra. It is labelled as poorly known by Romulus Whitaker and Ashok Captain in their Snakes of India Field Guide,considered the most up-to-date guide on the countrys reptiles.
We spotted our first Montane Trinket in October 2009 during one of our camps at Mount Abu,and we have seen it four times after that, said Chandresh Lodhiya,managing director of Anala Outdoors,an educational nature-camp organisation based in Ahmedabad. Lodhiya has photo-documented the sightings and informed the Madras Crocodile Bank,which is headed by Whitaker.
According to naturalists,Montane Trinket is often mistaken with Common Trinket snake,which is found in almost all states except J&K,Arunachal Pradesh,Tripura and Mizoram.
In fact,much of the usual distinguishing marks ventrals,subcaudals and supralabials are almost similar. What distinguishes them is a small black mark found right below the Montane Trinkets eyes,and curved black lines on the underbelly.
One Montane Trinket snake could have been a stowaway. It feeds on rodents so it may have hidden in a crate inside a truck. But there have been too many sightings in too short a time,and for me,that rules out the stowaway theory, said E K Nareshwar,an environment consultant and reptile expert.
Lodhiya believes the snake may be quite influenced by its ecosystem as well. While those found in the Western Ghats are known to strike repeatedly,he said the five he has spotted in Rajasthan have never done so and seem more docile. Of course,individual snakes also have their own temperaments,so I could be very wrong, he added.
Adding further to the excitement about the Montane Trinket snake is a photograph clicked by an ornithologist from Kutch,Jugal Tiwari,which he uploaded on the India Nature Watch website in 2008.