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This page details the important external morphological characteristics used in the identification of snakes. All the original photographs have been taken by Omkar Dhavale.



external morphology of the head of a cobra


                                  Close up of the head of a juvenile Naja naja (Binocellate Cobra)


external morphology of the head of a snake


Close up of the side of the head of a juvenile Bungarus caeruleus (Common Krait)

Scalation -

Scalation is the arrangement of scales on the body of an animal.

Scales on the Head -

The relative shape, size and arrangement of scales on the head of snakes are some of the most important characteristics used to identify snakes. The scales labelled in the photos are the standard scales, though there are variations from species to species (for example the ocular scale that lies above the eye could be broken up into multiple scales in some species).

Body Colouration -

Body colouration does help with identification to an extent but should never be solely relied upon as there are man species that share similar colouration and many colour variations (called colour morphs) within the same species.


external morphology of the underside of a snake

Close up of the underside of the head of Coelognathus helena (Common Trinket Snake)



 About the Author of this Article



Smith. M.A (1935). The Fauna of British India - Reptilia and Amphibia Volume 2. Publisher – Taylor and Francis (Original Publisher)