Lycodon aulicus (Common Wolfsnake) LINNE 1754


Characteristics: A small, broad and flat snouted snake. It has a constricted neck and a muscular, cylindrical body that gradually tapers towards the tail. The colouration of this snake may vary with its wide habitat. The stereotype dorsal colour for this snake is chocolate brown with yellow transverse stripes. Nearly all varieties have a brown underbelly. Most specimens found in Sri Lanka have a dark brown dorsal colouration and well defined white stripes.

Behaviour: A strict nighthunter, being nearly inert by day. Upon nightfall this snake bursts into action. It prefers low vegetation close to human dwellings for they harbour its most preferred food, lizards in large numbers. This snake often enters houses in search of geckos and often stumbles upon an unsuspecting human. This snake instinctively flees if disturbed by a human but attacks viciously if barred of all opportunity of escape. The fine teeth of this snake often inflict serious injury. During the day it remains coiled up and will only hide its head amidst its coils if disturbed.

Food: This snake feeds mainly on lizards and frogs.

Adult Indian Lycodon aulicus

Breeding: Due to the wide distribution of this snake its reproductive habits vary considerably. In most areas which receive rain during the southwest monsoon and in Sri Lanka the mating season for this snake lasts from November to January. In other areas this takes place between June and August. The exact period of gestation is not precisely known and seems to vary according to the external conditions. Usually the eggs are laid in February and most possibly the young hatch out in late April or early May before the onset of the monsoon. The clutch is usually within the limits of 4 and 7 but older females may lay up to 11 eggs at a time. The oval shaped eggs measure on average 30mmx11mm.

Growth: During the moment of hatching the young measure around 150mm in length. The new hatchlings jump start into action and begin to feed voraciously on lizards. These snakes reach maturity after two years and females are capable of reproducing once 45cm long. Females grow longer than males. Females may reach lengths in excess of 70cm while males seldom grow longer than 55cm.

Venom: Non venomous

Identification: This snake is often confused with Bungarus spp. and its close relative L.striatus. The presence of a Loreal shield will distinguish it from Bungarus spp. while a Loreal shield that touches both the Nasal and Internasal and 17 rows of Costals two head lengths behind the head, 17 at the midbody and 15 rows two head lengths before the vent will identify it as a Sri Lankan member of the genus Lycodon. L.aulicus has nine pairs of Supralabials while L.striatus has eight. Also the former has a more lighter colouration than the latter. Therefore these two key factors would be able to tell them apart.

Lepidosis:

Top of L.aulicus head Side of L.aulicus head Bottom of L.aulicus head

Head Dorsal View

Head Lateral View

Head Ventral View

Lycodon aulicus (Head)

Abbreviations

Dentition:

Distribution: India, Burma, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Andaman Islands, Nicobar Islands, Maldive Islands, Philippines, Indo-China and Malasyia.

A common snake found predominantly in the south and southwest of Sri Lanka. It is rarely recorded beyond an altitude of 1000m.


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Created: 2000/10/28 Last Updated: 2000/10/28 Maintained by Upeka Premaratne


References:

WALL, Frank: Snakes of Ceylon (1921)

Acknowledgements:

Picture from EMBL Reptile Database (Photographer on Photo)
Anatomical Diagrams from Snakes of Ceylon