Rhinophis travancoricus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Uropeltidae

Scientific Name: Rhinophis travancoricus Boulenger, 1893
Common Name(s):
English Travancore Earth Snake, Tamil Nadu Earth Snake, Travancore Sheildtail
Taxonomic Notes: Rhinophis travancoricus was described by Boulenger in 1892 based on specimens from Vembayam in Thiruvananthapuram district, Kerala, India  (Boulenger 1892, Smith 1943). The common name Tamil Nadu Earth Snake is a misnomer, as this species has been reported from Kerala and the specific epithet 'travancoricus' refers to 'Travancore' as the region where the type locality is present. However, the erstwhile kingdom of Travancore included most of southern Kerala, the Kanyakumari district and some parts of the present day southwestern Tamil Nadu (C. Srinivasulu pers. comm.2011).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-08-01
Assessor(s): Srinivasulu, B., Srinivasulu, C., Vijayakumar, S.P., Ganesan, S.R. & Ramesh, M.
Reviewer(s): Auliya, M., Bowles, P., Madala, M., Prabhu, M., Sreekar, R. & Molur, S.
Rhinophis travancoricus is known from five sites from the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, each treated here as a separate location. It is thought to prefer soft soils and the area from which it has been reported has witnessed soil compaction, rapid expansion of commercial plantations, agriculture and human settlements, due to which the quality and quantity of habitat has declined and will continue to do so in future. The extent of occurrence and area of occupancy of this species based on the few known records is less than 500 km2, hence this species is assessed as Endangered.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Rhinophis travancoricus is endemic to the Western Ghats, India and is known from three historic localities (one each in Kottayam, Idduki, and Thiruvananthapuram districts) in Kerala (Wall 1923, Smith 1943), and two recent localities (Muathupuzha in Kerala, and Ambadi-Vannaparai in Tamil Nadu; Rajendran 1985). It has been recorded at elevations between 0 and 1,200 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
India (Kerala, Tamil Nadu)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:20-499Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):UnknownEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:370
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Number of Locations:2-5
Upper elevation limit (metres):1200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Nothing is known about the population status of Rhinophis travancoricus, which is known from only five records and has not been recorded since 1972.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Rajendran (1985) reports this snake from forested tracts and rubber plantations, in regions experiencing fairly warm climate with summer temperatures well above 20°C. It is burrowing snake.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is not in use.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The current distribution of this species is largely under cultivation. A study (Rajendran 1985) identified two new subpopulations in yam and rubber plantations and indicates that the species is restricted to soft soils left untouched by planters. Unlike other hardy uropeltids these were not encountered in hard soils of plantations. Decline in habitat quality due to habitat conversion for commercial plantations and soil compaction seems to be a major threat to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no known species-specific conservation measures in place for this species. This species is currently not known from any protected area, but further surveys are needed in protected areas nearby where it has been recorded (Peppara, Neyyar, Shendurney, Periyar, Idukki and Thatekkad). It is a unique example of range-restricted species with a wide altitudinal range, it is a species of soft soil and conversion of habitats for commercial plantations appear to have negatively affected this species. Research is needed to establish its population trends and identify the threats.

Citation: Srinivasulu, B., Srinivasulu, C., Vijayakumar, S.P., Ganesan, S.R. & Ramesh, M. 2013. Rhinophis travancoricus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T172681A1366043. . Downloaded on 15 October 2018.
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