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Common Ground Snake

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common ground snake

Mark O'Shea

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Although only occasionally encountered, these small grey snakes are not rare, and they may just as easily be encountered on roads at night.


Distribution

Eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia (Torres Strait).

Habitat

Coconut plantations and rainforests.

Diet

Reptile eggs and small vertebrates.

Max length

0.5 m SVL (0.7 m TL).

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Reproductive strategy

Oviparous with clutches of up to six eggs.

Two species of Stegonotus have been recorded from Karkar Island, but I have only found S. parvus within the coconut husk piles. Stegonotus parvus has eight supralabials, while S. modestus has only seven supralabials. Although only occasionally encountered, these small grey snakes are not rare, and they may just as easily be encountered on roads at night. Although nonvenomous, they have enlarged rear teeth, and they will bite and chew, usually drawing blood, with little provocation.

Sources for more information:

McDowell, S.B. 1972. “The species of Stegonotus (Serpentes, Colubridae) in Papua New Guinea.” Zoologische Mededelingen 47:6-26.

O’Shea, M. 1996. A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea. Independent Pub. xii+239.

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