New cat snake species found; named after Uddhav Thackeray’s son
A new species of cat snake called Thackeray’s Cat Snake (Boiga thackerayi), named after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son, Tejas, a wildlife researcher, has been discovered in the Western Ghats after 125 years. Cat snakes or cat-eyed snakes are identified by the genus Boiga and are named after their vertical pupils, similar to cats.
The discovery is the first since 1894, when a species from the genus was found in the Western Ghats. The findings were published in the Journal of Bombay Natural History Society on Thursday.
Currently spotted only at a few localities around the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve and near Koyna in Satara district, the snake has been named after Tejas Thackeray for his contribution towards various research studies and discoveries of freshwater crabs across India. “Snakes belonging to this genus are widely distributed, but a few species are endemic to the northern Western Ghats, which indicates the importance of protecting this area from developmental threats,” said Varad Giri, lead author of the study who worked with taxonomists and naturalists from India, London and Germany for this study. “The snake was named after Tejas Thackeray as he was the first one to identify the species and collated crucial information before approaching us. The study also puts emphasis on the critically endangered field of taxonomy, which is being ignored.”
Growing up to a maximum length of three-foot, Thackeray’s Cat Snake is a non-venomous, nocturnal and arboreal species (living in trees and active mostly during night). Its habitat includes rain-fed streams across tropical forests. With tiger-like stripes on its body, the species has a light yellow texture, dotted with black marks from its head to the mid-section. The texture turns pink towards the latter half of its form.
The species feeds on eggs of Humayun’s Night Frog, apart from tree frogs. “This is a unique feature never before reported in snake species from Western Ghats,” said Giri.