- Common names: pipe snakes, shield-tailed snakes.
The Uropeltidae are a family of primitive burrowing snakes endemic to southern India and Sri Lanka. The name is derived from the Greek words ura ("tail") and pelte ("shield"), indicating the presence of the large keratinous shield at the tip of the tail. Currently, eight genera are recognized comprising 47 species. These snakes are not venomous.
These are small snakes, with adults growing to between 20 and 75 cm in length. They are adapted to a fossorial way of life, which is apparent in their anatomy. The skull is primitive and inflexible, with a short vertical quadrate bone and rigid jaws; the coronoid bone is still present in the lower jaw. The orbital bones are absent, the supratemporal is vestigial and the eyes are small and degenerate, not covered by a brille, but by large polygonal shields. However, the pelvis and hind limbs, the presence of which is also considered a primitive trait, have disappeared in this family.
The tail is characteristic, ending in either A) an enlarged rigid scale with two points, or more often an upper surface with a subcircular area covered with thickened spiny scales, or B) a much enlarged spiny plate. The ventral scales are much reduced in size. The body is cylindrical and covered with smooth scales.
They are found in southern India and Sri Lanka. In India, their distribution is mainly along the hills of Western Ghats, and only one species, Elliot's shieldtail, Uropeltis ellioti, has been reported from other areas such as Eastern Ghats and hills of Central India. In Sri Lanka, they occur in areas whose climatic conditions are similar to that of Western Ghats, like the south western part of Sri Lanka.
|Genus||Taxon author||Species||Common name||Geographic range|
|Brachyophidium||Wall, 1921||1||Southern India in the Palni Hills|
|Melanophidium||Günther, 1864||3||Southern India in the Peermade Hills in Kerala and the Anaimalai Hills in Tamil Nadu|
|Platyplectrurus||Günther, 1868||2||Southern India and Sri Lanka|
|Plectrurus||A.H.A. Duméril, 1851||4||Southern India.|
|Pseudotyphlops||Schlegel, 1839||1||Sri Lanka in central and southern Uva and Sabaragamuwa Provinces|
|Rhinophis||Hemprich, 1820||12||Southern India and Sri Lanka|
|Teretrurus||Beddome, 1886||1||Southern India in Wayanad, Travancore, Nalumukku, Oothu, the Manimuthar Hills (in the Western Ghats of Tirunelveli) and Nyamakad (in the Western Ghats of the Kerala Munnar Hills)|
|UropeltisT||Cuvier, 1829||23||Southern India and Sri Lanka|
- List of uropeltid species and subspecies
- Uropeltidae by common name
- Uropeltidae by taxonomic synonyms
- List of snakes, overview of all snake families and genera.
- McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
- "Uropeltidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 17 August 2007.
- Greene, H. W. and R. W. Mcdiarmid. 2005. Wallace and Savage: heroes, theories, and venomous snake mimicry. pp 190–208. Donnelly M. A., Crother B. I., Guyer C., Wake M. H., White M. E. (eds.). Ecology and Evolution in the Tropics, a Herpetological Perspective. Chicago University of Chicago Press.
- Parker HW, Grandison AGC. 1977. Snakes -- a natural history. Second Edition. British Museum (Natural History) and Cornell University Press. 108 pp. 16 plates. LCCCN 76-54625. ISBN 0-8014-1095-9 (cloth), ISBN 0-8014-9164-9 (paper).
- Tinkle, D.W., Gibbons, J.W. (1977). The Distribution and Evolution of Viviparity in Reptiles. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Miscellaneous Publications 154. PDF
List of uropeltid species and subspecies
This is a list of all genera, species and subspecies of the family Uropeltidae, otherwise referred to as shield-tailed snakes or uropeltids. It follows the taxonomy currently provided by ITIS, which is based on the continuing work of Dr. Roy McDiarmid.
- Pseudotyphlops, Large shield snake
- Pseudotyphlops philippinus, Large shield snake
- Rhinophis blythii, Blyth's earth snake
- Rhinophis dorsimaculatus
- Rhinophis drummondhayi, Drummond-Hay's earth snake
- Rhinophis fergusonianus, Cardamom Hills earth snake
- Rhinophis homolepis
- Rhinophis oxyrynchus, Schneider's earth snake
- Rhinophis philippinus, Peter's earth snake
- Rhinophis porrectus, Willey's earth snake
- Rhinophis punctatus, Müller's earth snake
- Rhinophis sanguineus, Salty earth snake
- Rhinophis travancoricus, Travancore shieldtail
- Rhinophis tricolorata
- Teretrurus sanguineus, purple-red earth snake
- Uropeltis arcticeps, Tinevelly shieldtail
- Uropeltis beddomii, Beddom's shieldtail
- Uropeltis broughami, Sirumallay's shieldtail
- Uropeltis ceylanica, Cuvier's shieldtail
- Uropeltis dindigalensis, Dindigul shieldtail
- Uropeltis ellioti, Elliot's shieldtail
- Uropeltis liura, Günther's shieldtail
- Uropeltis macrolepis, Bonbay shieldtail
- Uropeltis macrorhyncha, Ponachi shieldtail
- Uropeltis maculata, Spotted shieldtail
- Uropeltis melanogaster, Gray's shieldtail
- Uropeltis myhendrae, Barred shieldtail
- Uropeltis nitida, Cochin shiedtail
- Uropeltis ocellata, Nilgiri shieldtail
- Uropeltis petersi, Peters shieldtail
- Uropeltis phillipsi, Phillips shieldtail
- Uropeltis phipsonii, Phipsons shieldtail
- Uropeltis pulneyensis, Palni shiledtail
- Uropeltis rubrolineata, Red-lined shieldtail
- Uropeltis rubromaculata, Red-spotted shieldtail
- Uropeltis ruhunae
- Uropeltis smithi, Smith's shieldtail
- Uropeltis woodmasoni, Black-bellied shieldtail
- ^ "Uropeltidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=209614. Retrieved 22 September 2007.
- ^ McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
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