HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
Sunbeams are the world’s most beautiful snakes. They have smooth and shiny scales. The scales scatter the illumination like a prism, showcasing a breathtaking display of rainbow colouration. There is no snake in the world that can rival the iridescent of the sunbeam snake, these species’ most enchanting feature.
Sunbeam snakes are harmless and are non-venomous. But when disturbed, they defensively spray their attacker with a foul-smelling musk. Sunbeam snake helps control rat and mice populations by eating small rodents, as well as frogs, lizards, and other snakes.
Sunbeam snakes have dark purplish brown or black back and their smooth scales shine in blues, greens, reds and yellows during bright, sunny day. Their belly is whitish. Their bodies are designed to allow them to burrow very easily with flattened heads and small eyes. Their small, depressed head is wedge-shaped that help them to dig into the soil. They have short tail.
They are one of the species of snakes that lives below the surface. These burrowing snakes depend on tunnels created by other burrowing creatures. They are nocturnal, ground-dwelling reptiles. When not actively burrowing underground, these snakes can be found hunting for prey. These snakes rarely leave their burrows except to hunt. People rarely see them deep in the forests, which may mean they do not travel there, but it may also simply mean people usually overlook them in that habitat.
Sunbeams lay between six and 17 eggs. Young sunbeam snakes look very similar to the adults, except that they have a strong white collar of white scales evident just below the head. This colouration fades within the first year.
Sunbeam snakes grow up to an average of about three feet three inches long.
These snakes feed on ground-dwelling birds, lizards, small mammals, frogs and other snakes. It is known that they prefer prey that is slightly elongated and that does not exceed their own body in width. Since these species are non venomous, they kill their prey through constriction, coiling around their prey until it suffocates.
Sunbeam snakes range throughout southern China and Southeast Asia. They spend at least part of their time underground, hidden in leaves or under trash. They live in humid forests, as well as rice paddies, farm fields, parks, and gardens next to the woods. They only come out from under cover on overcast or rainy days and at night.
The average lifetime of a sunbeam snake is four years.