Cat Snakes

Cat Snakes

 

any member of the genus Telescopus (Tarbophis) of the subfamily Colubridae. The pupil of the eye is vertical, as in cats (hence the name). There are 12 species. The snake is found in southeastern Europe, the southwestern part of Asia, and tropical and northeastern Africa.

The cat snake (Telescopus fallax), up to 1 m long, is found in the USSR (in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Dagestan), as well as in Asia Minor and the Balkans. It inhabits dry, often stony, places; sometimes it lives in abandoned buildings, ruins, and thatched roofs. The snake hides in cracks, crevices, and holes and under the bark of trees. During the hot season it is active at dusk and at night. It feeds primarily on lizards and nestlings, coiling around its prey and poisoning it with its bite. The bite is not harmful to man. The larger Telescopus rhinopoma is found in the southern part of Turkmenia.

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Other topics include the rainbow serpent, the snipers: vine snakes, the night shift: boas and pythons, the poisoners: tree vipers, and Old World cat snakes. The color photographs are useful for identification, and many are also visually remarkable.
With rather few records, one cannot draw firm conclusions, but perhaps the northern Hajar Arabian cat snakes are mainly of this colour morph.
Given that Arabian cat snakes have previously been recorded in Jebel Akhdar and also in the Ru'us al Jibal, and that they have been recorded from sea level to 2150 metres, it is to be expected that this species would also occur in the Hajar mountains of the UAE.
The authors would like to thank those individuals that have contributed records of cat snakes from Oman and the UAE: Seyad Farook, Damien Egan, Fahad al Kalbani, and Chris Hillman.
The Arabian cat snake Telescopus dhara (Forskal, 1775) is a rear-fanged colubrid snake found in the peripheral mountains of Arabia, from the Gulf of Aqaba, southwards through the Hijaz to the Yemen mountains, to the mountainous and rocky areas of Oman.
Table 1 gives details of unpublished Arabian cat snake records from Oman since 1989.