This snake grows to 4 feet long with a 9 inch tail. It is brownish-olive above, with most of the scales black-edged. The young have blackish cross bands. Its lower parts are yellowish, with the outer part of the margin of each ventral shield blackish.
Its rostral is as deep as it is broad, and visible from above. The suture between the internasals is much shorter than that between the prefrontals. Its frontal is as long as its distance from the end of the snout or a little shorter and shorter than the parietals. The loreal is longer than deep, and often united with the prefrontal. It has one large preocular (a small sub-ocular below the pre-ocular is rarely present) and two postoculars. Temporals are 2+2 or 2+3. Normally there are 8 upper labials, the fourth and fifth entering the eye and 5 lower labials in contact with the anterior chin-shields, which are as long as the posterior or a little longer. Scales are in 23 rows, feebly keeled on the posterior part of the body. Ventrals 233–246; anal divided; subcaudals 79–90.
Type locality: China: Ladakh (Günther, 1860); Tibet: Ladakh, Tsomoriri (Boulenger 1894)
- ↑ Boulenger, G. A. 1890. Fauna of British India. Reptilia and Batrachia. p. 332-333
- Boulenger, George A. 1894 Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume II., Containing the Conclusion of the Colubridæ Aglyphæ. British Mus. (Nat. Hist.), London, xi, 382 pp.
- Günther,A. 1860 Contributions to a knowledge of the reptiles of the Himalaya mountains. - I. Descriptions of the new species. II. List of Himalayan reptiles, with remarks on their horizontal distribution. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1860: 148-175
- Wallach, V. 1997 A monograph of the colubrid snakes of the genus Elaphe Fitzinger (book review). Herpetological Review 28 (2):110