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What Is a Wolf Snake?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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The Lycodon capucinus, or common wolf snake, is a reptile found widespread across Southeast Asia. Wolf snakes are members of the Colubridae family and, depending upon its species, it ranges from light to dark brown in color. These types of snakes are nonpoisonous.

Since several species of wolf snake exist in multiple countries, they are often known by many different names. Some of these include Hindi Garar, Marathi Kandva, and Singhalese Tel karawala. Though the snakes are considered very adaptable, and can sometimes be found in cities, they typically keep to rural areas and small villages.

Wolf snakes have 17 rows of scales making up their middle body sections. Rather than the fangs that are typical of most snakes, the wolf snake features a set of elongated teeth similar to the canines that a wolf would have. This is how the snake received its name. Depending upon the specific species of snake, it may feature a light shade of brown with white splotches, to dark purple-tinted brown skin without splotches or stripes.

Most baby wolf snakes have some type of stripe or splotch at birth. When the snake's clutch of eggs hatch, they emerge with either white or yellow markings. In many species, however, these markings fade over time as the snakes progress into adulthood.

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Due to the splotches on some varieties of wolf snake, the creatures are sometimes mistaken for the poisonous krait and killed. Krait snakes, however, can be distinguished by their triangular shapes and thinner stripes. Younger wolf snakes with color splotches also typically have a less frequent pattern of color than krait snakes.

Small lizards, such as skinks and geckos, make up the majority of the wolf snake's diet. The snakes are also known to eat frogs when they are available. When the snakes take up residence in people's homes, they may also eat mice.

Snakes of this species that do live in human homes usually occupy small crevices and remain unnoticed. Though not poisonous, the snake will still strike when threatened, causing a painful bite. If striking cannot be executed due to lack of space or if the snake is blocked, it will usually retreat into a coil, ducking its head down into the center of its spiraled body.

A separate species of wolf snake exists in Africa. These snakes are members of the Lycophidion family. The small snake may grow up to 20 inches (50 cm) in length. Like its Asian counterpart, it dines chiefly on small lizards.

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bfree
Post 2

@Markus - Do you remember if the wolf snake had blue or black eyes? I've seen a pretty big one in an aquarium once that was molting or shedding, that had very distinctive blue eyes. My boyfriend said it was due to the lack of oxygen to their brains during the shedding process and that they become temporarily blind. A friend of his had tamed one before and said that one thing you never want to do is try to feed a molting snake because it will attack you.

Markus
Post 1

My parents sent me to a snake camp last summer where they teach you how to handle different breeds of snakes. We were shown the non-venomous snakes first and the wolf snake was the very first one that I handled. He was very small and gentle and could fit in the palm of my hand.

Our trainer mentioned that the wolf snake was beginning to shed his skin and that they're much less aggressive at this stage. I didn't feel threatened by it at all.

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