How to Count Body Scales

Dorsal Scale Counts

These are counted one head length behind the head, one head length in front of the anal scale and at midbody. Do not count the ventral scales.

Ventral Scale Counts

To count ventrals you must locate the first one. If you look at the image above, which is a part of the head, you will see a row of scales that appears to start adjacent to the ventral scales - it does not go all the way forwards to the head. The scale that lies next to the first scale in this row is the first ventral.

You count backwards until the last scale before the anal plate.

Caudal Scale Counts

The first subcaudal is that scale - or pair of scales - that meets the lateral scales. Count backwards to the scale - or pair - immediately before the conical tip. If the snake appears to have lost part of its tail put a plus sign before your count to indicate that there were more subcaudals.

Keeled or Smooth?

A snake can have keeled or smooth scales. A keeled scale has a ridge running longitudanally down it. Sometimes dorsal scales can be double-keeled and have two ridges.

Keeled Scales
Keeled Scales
Smooth Scales
Smooth Scales

Back to the Scale Count.
Copyright: Séan Thomas & Eugene Griessel - Dec 1999.