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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6

Pelamis. Daud. — Pelamis bicolor. Daud. — The Black and Yellow Sea Snake

page 60

Pelamis. Daud.

Pelamis bicolor. Daud.

The Black and Yellow Sea Snake.

"Head long, with very long spatulate snout; neck, rather stout; body of moderate length; nasal shields contiguous, longer than broad, pierced by the nostrils posteriorly; only one pair of frontals; scales not imbricate, not polished, tubercular or concave; ventral shields none or very narrow; lower jaw without notch in front; 2 or 3 postorbitals; neck surrounded by from 45 to 51 longitudinate series of scales: from 378 to 440 scales in a lateral longitudinal series between the angle of the mouth and the vent." (Günther.) The coloration of this snake varies considerably; the most prevailing colour is, the upper part of the head and the back uniform black, the sides and belly uniform brownish olive or yellow, the latter colour predominating just after the snake has shed its skin. Both the black and yellow colours are sharply defined. Tail with a series of black spots. This snake, which occasionally occurs on our shores, has a wide range, and appears to be as common on the Indian Ocean as it is here. The coast of New Zealand may be taken as its most southern limit. Dr. Gray, speaking about the Hydridæ in the Brit. Mus. Cat. of Snakes, remarks "that they are true Sea-Snakes; that they coil themselves up on the shore, living on sea-weeds, and lay their eggs on the shore." This observation is not correct if applied to the present species, as I have more than once taken gravid females with from four to six well-developed young of such a size as are sometimes met with swimming about, and apparently a few days old only. That they live on sea-weed is doubtful also, for though I have dissected almost every specimen which has come into my hands, I have found nothing but fishes or the remnants of such in the stomach.

These are all the specimens of Snakes observed near Sydney; and as the country has been well searched for more than five years, it will be difficult to discover new species.

Printed by Reading and Wellbank, Bridge-street, Sydney.