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Length of the head,..
O ft. 3 inch.
10 ft. 8 inch. Circumference of the neck 5, of the trunk 8, of the tail, 4; inch.
The neck is covered by 21, the trunk by 17 longitudinal series of smooth imbricate scales : those of the two lowest series are large rhombic; of the sides irregular rhomboidal, appearing linear, all with rounded apex. The Malayan individuals are of a lighter colour, more inclining to yellow, than those observed in Bengal.
GEN. NAJA, Laurenti.
Head covered with shields; muzzle truncated; the anterior part of the trunk, between the 6th and 12th abdominal scutum, considerably dilatable in the shape of a disk, with a large, white, transparent spot above, edged with black, and somewhat resembling a pair of spectacles.
NAJA LUTESCENS,* Laurenti, VAR (D, Daudin.)
Naja peruviana, Lacépède.
“ Úlar mata-árı” of the Malays. Head shining dark brown above; on the sides and lips brownish white; ground colour of the trunk buff, the anterior half of each scale pale greyish brown ; beneath buff. Iris black with a narrow light grey margin towards the orbit ; tongue light flesh-coloured.
Young.-Much lighter brown than the adult and strongly iridescent. Scuta 189 to 193; Scutella 49 to 54.
* Coluber naja; Linné, Naju lutescens, Laurenti, the cobra de Capello, has probably the widest range of the Asiatic venomous serpents. The species, or its varieties, inhabits the countries between the Sutlej and Cape Comorin, and Ceylon. According to Mr. Hodgson's observations it does not occur in the valley of Nepal, but it ranges through Hindustan down to Cape Romania, the southern extremity of the Malayan Peninsula, and from thence to Chusan, 30° N. E. 122° E. It is also found in the Philippines, Ternate, Borneo, Java, Sumatra.
Habit.—Pinang, Singapore, Malayan Peninsula.
Bengal, Coromandel. It is numerous in the Malayan hills and valleys, but apparently of uncommon occurrence in Bengal.
SYN.-Naja tripudians, Var. nigra, Gray, Illustr. Ind. Zool.
Naja tripudians, Var. Schlegel. Upper parts intense black with strong purple or blue reflections ; temples, lips, and throat pale orange, largely spotted with black; the lateral part of the anterior eight or ten, and of the 14th, 15th, and 17th scuta pale orange, black in the centre and with a broad black margin; the scales and interstitial skin on each side of the anterior eighteen or twenty scuta white or buff, appearing on the lower surface of the hood as two short parallel bands. The rest of the abdominal surface paler black than above, strongly iridescent, in certain lights pale silvery. Iris black with the orbital margin pale grey ; tongue light flesh-coloured.
Scuta 184 to 187 ; Scutella 49 to 52. Habit.- Pinang, Singapore.
At Pinang the preceding variety prevails, at Singapore the present. Both are local, and they appear respectively to congregate on single spots of limited extent. Another black variety (Naja atra, Cantor) which inhabits Chusan, differs from the present in having a number of distant transversal double lines of a yellow colour. Beneath it is slateor pearl-coloured.
The food of Naja lutescens consists of rats, small birds, (it occasionally ascends trees,) lizards, and fishes, in search of which latter it frequently takes the water, and even the sea, along the coasts. The largest individual of the two Malayan varieties, was of the following dimensions : Length of the head,
O ft. 12 inch.
4 ft. 113 inch. Circumference of the neck, 23, of the trunk, 45, of the root of the tail, 21 inch.
The following Memorandum relative to the venom of Naja lutescens (Laurenti) has kindly been communicated by J. W. Laidlay, Esq., Joint Secretary, Asiatic Society,
“The venom was carefully obtained so as to avoid any admixture of saliva, by compressing the venomous glands. It issued from the lower aperture of the fangs in viscid drops of a syrupy consistency, and was received as it fell from the fangs in platina capsules. The serpents operated upon were an adult Cobra de Capello (Naja lutescens, Laurenti) and one of its Varieties (Naja kaouthia, apud Belanger) and were supplied by the kindness of J. W. Grant, Esq. C. S.” " In
every instance the venom readily changed the blue of litmus to red, and restored the bright yellow to turmeric paper that had been reddened by the application of caustic alkali ; an unequivocal proof of acidity. When left to spontaneous evaporation, it dried into a varnish resembling mucilage, or the glare of an egg, cracking in all directions; and on being heated it deposited an abundant coagulum, apparently albuminous. In either instance when redissolved, it retained its acid property."
“What the nature of this acid may be, it was impossible to determine from the small quantity operated upon ; nor am I prepared to say that the poison itself is an acid, although if it be not so, it is certainly associated with one. Most probably from the rapid and spontaneous disappearance of its properties by keeping, the poison itself consists of some exceedingly unstable compound, which would be wholly disorganised under any attempt at isolation by chemical means."
SUB-FAM. VIPERINÆ, Bonaparte.
GEN. TRIGONOCEPHALUS, Oppel. Head broad triangular, scaly, with a pit before the eyes; trunk robust, cylindrical, tail short, tapering to a point, with scutella beneath.
TrigoNOCEPHALUS GRAMINEUS, (Shaw.)
Coluber gramineus, Shaw.
Grass green above, lighter on the sides, frequently interrupted by zig-zag lines, produced by the black interstitial skin; the tail in some bright cinnamon-red; from the sides of the neck along the lowest series of scales a pale yellow line. Lips, throat and abdominal surface greenish yellow ; scutella in some spotted with cinnamon-colour. Iris golden, dotted with brown, but leaving a narrow margin bordering the elliptical black pupil, which is vertically contracted by the light. Tongue pale bluish with black apex.
Scuta 165 to 170; Scutella 58 to 71.
New-Holland,* Timor, Pulo Samao, Celebes, Eastern Java,
Banka, Sumatra, Tenasserim, Bengal, Chirra Púnji, Nipalt
Differs from the preceding by its Indian or brick-red line on each
Habit.—Pinang, Singapore, Malayan Peninsula.
Sumatra, Tenasserim. In the Malayan hills and valleys the variety is by far the more numerous: it is indeed the most common of the venomous serpents. In Bengal I never observed but a single young one, (T. erythrurus,) captured in the Sunderbuns. It is generally observed on trees, hanging down from the branches, or concealed under the dense foliage ; it preys on small birds and tree-frogs [Polypedates leucomystax, (Gravenhorst.)] But occasionally it descends to the ground, in search of frogs and toads. The neck is covered by 27, the trunk by 23 or 25 ovate imbricate, keeled scales. The tail is prehensile. Of a number examined none exceeded the following dimensions : Length of the head,
O ft. 14 inch.
2 ft. 7 inch.
* Lacépède, on the authority of M. Baudin. + Specimen in Mr. Ilodgson's collection,
Circumference of the neck, 19, of the trunk, 25, of the root of the tail, 1 inch. TrigonOCEPHALUS SUMATRANUS, (Raffles*) VAR. (See pl. XL, Fig. 9.) Syn.—“Úlar kápak” of the Malays of the Peninsula.
Young.--Grass green above, lighter on the sides and lips; from the pit beneath the eye, over the cheek a cinnamon red line with the upper margin buff; on each side of the back a series of distant spots, half cinnamon, half buff coloured, each of the two or three scales compos. ing the spots, being of these two colours ; on the tail the spots are confluent, forming transversal lines. Beneath light yellowish green. The largest individual in this garb measured 1 ft. 39 inch in length.
Adult.—Ground colour above light yellow, or pale greenish yellow, largely mixed with intense dull black, so as to make the general appearance black, through which the ground-colour appears on the head as irregular spots, and a continued line, beneath which a black line proceeds from the eye to the occiput: on the trunk and tail as narrow, distant, transversal bands, continued or broken up into spots. Labials, gulars, the lowest two or three lateral series of scales, and scuta gamboge with black margins ; scutella largely spotted with black. Iris golden dotted with black and with a black transversal bar, pupil elliptical, vertically contracted by the light; tongue bluish grey.
Scuta 141 to 147 ; Scutella 42 to 52.
Unfortunately in the Malayan countries this variety is not of so rare occurrence as the species appears to be in Sumatra. Both are equally dreaded. The natives of Sumatra denominate it “ Púchuk,” a young, green shoot of a tree, a name expressive both of its colour and arborial habits. The Malays of the Peninsula, who only know the black varie. ty, call it from its broad cordate head the “hatchet-shaped" serpent, “Kapak,” or “ Kápah" signifying an axe. At Pinang it generally occupies the lower parts of the hills or the valleys, either on the ground or on trees, but Dr. Montgomerie in one instance observed it at an elevation of 2,200 feet. It preys upon rats, small birds, tree-frogs and
* Syx.-Seba, II. T. 68, F. 4.-Coluber sumatranus, Raffles, Ular Poochook.-Cophias wagleri, H. Boie. — Tropidvlæmus, Wagler. --- Trigonocephalus wagleri, Schlegel.