As part of a Nagaland bird survey, explorers Shashank Dalvi and Ramki Sreenivasan stumbled upon this beautiful snake close to Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary above Pungro town in Eastern Nagaland close to the Myanmar border. It turned out to be new species for India — “Bella” Rat Snake (Maculophis bella bella). Bella means beautiful in Italian.
This small snake (2½-3 feet, 80-90 cm in length) appears to be a montane species found in higher elevations like 1500 – 2000m. This species is known from northern Myanmar and western Yunnan province, China.
It is not surprising to discover lesser known species from this part of India as the region is poorly studied. The team, in the same survey, reported three new species of Laughing Thrushes as well as many other birds poorly known in India.