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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Superclassis: Sarcopterygii
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Scincomorpha
Superfamilia: Scincoidea

Familia: Scincidae
Subfamilia: Scincinae
Genus: Ophiomorus
Species: Ophiomorus tridactylus

Ophiomorus tridactylus (Blyth, 1853)

Syntypes (6): ZSI 2526-2529, 2531-2532, presented by Allan Webb.

Type locality: “Afghanistan”.

Sphenocephalus tridactylus Blyth, 1853: 654 [original combination]
Sphenoscincus tridactylus — Peters, 1875: 553 [subsequent combination]
Ophiomorus tridactylus — Boulenger, 1887: 394 [subsequent combination]

Primary references

Blyth, E. 1853. Notices and descriptions of various reptiles, new or little-known. Part I. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 22: 639–655. BHL


Uetz, P. & Hallermann, J. 2022. Ophiomorus tridactylus. The Reptile Database. Accessed on 15 May 2019.

Vernacular names
English: Three-toed Snake Skink

Ophiomorus tridactylus, commonly known as the three-toed snake skink, is a species of skink endemic to sandy desert areas of South Asia. It is also called the Indian sand-swimmer for its habit of moving just under the sand.[2]


O. tridactylus is found in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Snout wedge-shaped, with angularly projecting labial edge; mouth inferior. Nostril close to the rostral, which is large and nearly reaches the posterior border of the supranasals; a small anterior and a larger second loreal, the latter usually coalesced with the prefrontal on each side; frontonasal rather large, one half or two thirds the length of the frontal; latter as broad as long or slightly broader, 3 or 4 very small supraoculars; no supraciliaries; a preocular; interparietal as long as broad, as long as the frontal or slightly shorter; frontoparietals small; parietals band-like, narrow; a pair of nuchals, in contact with the interparietal; first and second upper labials smallest, in contact with the nasal, fifth much larger than the four anterior together. Ear hidden. Two azygos postmentals. Body much elongate, with angular latero-ventral edge, with two pairs of short tridactyle limbs; the posterior limbs proportionately much more developed than the anterior, and a little longer than the distance between the fore limb and the anterior corner of the eye. 22 scales round the body, those of the back and of the two median ventral series narrower than the others. Two slightly enlarged preanals. Tail shorter than head and body, cyclotetragonal at the base, compressed and pointed at the end.[3]

Cream-coloured, uniform or with longitudinal series of brown dots on the back; a more or less distinct brown streak passing through the eye.[3]

From snout to vent 3.75 inches (9.5 cm), tail 2.2 inches (5.6 cm).[3]

The Reptile Database.
Minton SA Jr. 1966. A contribution to the herpetology of West Pakistan. Bull. American Mus. Nat. Hist. 134 (2): 27-184. (Ophiomorus tridactylus, pp. 105-106).

Boulenger GA. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. London: Secretary of State for India in Council. (Taylor and Francis, printers). xviii + 541 pp. (Ophiomorus tridactylus, p. 222).

Further reading

Anderson SC, Leviton AE. 1966. A review of the genus Ophiomorus (Sauria: Scincidae), with descriptions of three new forms. Proc. California Acad. Sci., Fourth Series, 33 (16): 499-534, 8 figures, 1 table. (Ophiomorus tridactylus, pp. 517–519 + Figures 4c, 4d, 5b).
Boulenger GA. 1887. Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition. Volume III. ..., Scincidæ, ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xii + 575 pp. + Plates I-XL. (Ophiomorus tridactylus, pp. 394–395).
Blyth E. [1853] "1854". Notices and descriptions of various Reptiles, new or little known [Part I]. J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal 22: 639-655. (Sphenocephalus tridactylus, new species, pp. 654–655).
Smith MA. 1935. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Amphibia. Vol. II.—Sauria. London: Secretary of State for India in Council. (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiii + 440 pp. + Plate I + 2 maps. (Ophiomorus tridactylus, pp. 346–347).

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