Himalayan Keelback : Rhabdophis himalayanus

Snakes of World

The Himalayan Keelback, also known as Rhabdophis himalayanus, is a venomous species of snake. It has venom glands located behind the eyes that produce a toxic venom, although its venom strength is not well studied. Bites from this species can be potentially dangerous to humans and should be treated promptly.


The Himalayan Keelback is a medium-sized species of snake, with an average length of around 60-80 cm (24-32 inches). It has a slender, cylindrical body shape and a pointed head. The eyes are large and round, with round pupils. The Himalayan Keelback, Amphiesma modestum himalayanum, has the following scalation:

  • Dorsal scales: 17 rows at mid-body, keeled
  • Ventral scales: Smooth and undivided
  • Anal scale: Single
  • Subcaudal scales: Divided

The scales of Amphiesma modestum himalayanum are keeled, which gives them a distinct texture.


The scales of the Himalayan Keelback are smooth and shiny. The dorsal scales are arranged in 17 rows, and there are 146-176 ventral scales and 50-80 subcaudal scales. The anal scale is divided, and there are 8 supralabials and 10-11 infralabials.


The Himalayan Keelback has a distinctive appearance, with a dark brown or black color on its back and sides, with a series of lighter crossbars or spots. The belly is yellow or cream-colored. The scales are smooth and shiny, giving the snake a sleek appearance.

Natural History:

The Himalayan Keelback is primarily active during the day and feeds on small prey such as frogs, lizards, and rodents. It is known for its aquatic nature and is often found in or near water sources.


The Himalayan Keelback is found in the Himalayan region of South Asia, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. It is most commonly found near water sources, such as ponds, streams, and marshes.


The Himalayan Keelback is a relatively docile species of snake and is not aggressive towards humans. It will usually try to escape when confronted but may become defensive and try to bite if it feels threatened. This species is often seen swimming in water sources or basking in the sun on rocks or logs.


Little is known about the reproductive biology of the Himalayan Keelback, but it is believed to be oviparous, laying eggs rather than giving birth to live young.

Location and Conservation:

The Himalayan Keelback is found in the Himalayan region of South Asia, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. It is not considered to be under threat and is listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Himalayan Keelback is a unique and interesting species found in the Himalayan region of South Asia. Its distinctive appearance and behavior make it a fascinating creature to study, and its venomous nature makes it important to be cautious when encountering this species. The protection of its habitat is crucial for the conservation of this species and the maintenance of biodiversity in the region.

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