Reptiles and amphibians. India is famous for its reptiles, especially its snakes which feature in many stories and legends, and despite its small size Goa has its share. The dense flora and heavy rainfall of the interior provide a pefect environment for many snakes. Although about 200 people a year report being bitten in Goa, snakes generally keep out of the way of people. One of the most common in the well watered areas of the hills is the Indian Rock Python (Python molurus). Usually about 4m in length (and sometimes much longer), pythons are 'constrictors' which kill their prey by suffocation.

The Dhaman or Sodne Nagin, or Indian Rat Snake (Pytas musosus) is often seen in houses. The bright yellow snake grows to nearly 3m and has a strong and unpleasant smell. A common harmless snake in the forests of the foothills is the Kalinagin Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata), which despite its English name, can be almost black with greenish cross bars. Living on small mammals, geckos, birds and insects, the Golden Tree Snake can swing and 'jump' up to 6m from tree to tree.

There are several species of the poisonous cobra all of which have a hood, which is spread when the snake draws itself up to strike. The best known is probably the Nag, Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja), which has a mark like a pair of spectacles on the back of its hood. The largest venomous snake in the world is the Raj Nag, King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) which grows to 5m in length. It is usually brown, but can vary from cream to black. In their natural state, cobras generally inhabit forests.

Equally venomous, but much smaller in size, the Kaner or Maniar, the Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) grows to just over 1 m. This is a slender shiny, blue-black snake with thin white bands across the body. The bands vary from very conspicuous, to almost indiscernible. The slightly smaller and harmless Pasko (Oligodon Taeniolatus), common on farmland, is very similar as its brown spots resemble the krait's bands. It has green lines on the sides and lacks the hexagonal dorsal scales of the krait. Another common non-poisonous snake mistaken for a krait is the Kaydya or Common Wolfsnake (Lycodon aulicus) which can be found near houses and in gardens. The grey-brown body has 12-19 darker cowrie-shaped markings which resemble the krait's cross bars.

Small lizard with yellow throat

small lizard with yellow throat