New snake species in Odisha

A group of volunteers from Odisha have claimed to have discovered a new species of snake which has been named after this coastal state as Lycodon Odishii.

Bhubaneswar: A group of volunteers from Odisha have claimed to have discovered a new species of snake which has been named after this coastal state as Lycodon Odishii.

The new finding is the latest addition to the list of 297 species of snakes found in the country. The Russian Journal of Herpetology, an international science journal, has published a research paper on the new species in its latest edition.

"So far, scientists from across the world were identifying the snake with juveniles of Lycodon Jara. Several attempts to differentiate the snake were made in the past, but proved unsuccessful due to lack of proper documentation. We worked for 18 months and finally concluded that this was a new species," said Subhendu Mallik, the chief researcher, who is also secretary of Snake Helpline, a voluntary organization working for the rescue and rehabilitation of snakes.

The green-coloured snake has a bright white collar on its neck and twin spots on each scale except the collar. The new species, the common name of which is Subhendu's wolf snake, has several similarities with Lycodon Jara. Scientists used to believe that the juvenile Jara has a collar and as it grows old, the collar disappears.

The snake was found in Berhampur in Ganjam district in 2013. "The female snake had a collar. That struck us because how could an adult Jara have a collar? We started our research on the species," said Mallik.

A detailed examination of the specimen showed clear morphological differences of at least 12 characters, he added saying, "the Lycodon Odishi is a nocturnal and non-venomous species of snake and feeds mostly on skinks and geckos.