Short-toed snake eagle

The Short-toed snake eagle is not just a creature of brute force. It is a creature of elegance, grace, and cunning. It hunts with a patience that borders on the supernatural, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Its movements are fluid, effortless, as it glides on the invisible currents of the air.

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameShort-toed Snake Eagle
2Scientific nameCircaetus gallicus
3ColourMostly brown with pale underparts and dark flight feathers
4Average length60-70 cm
5Average height20-25 cm
6Type of birdBird of prey
7Found in India in statesFound throughout India
8HabitatOpen habitats, including grasslands, savannas, and semi-deserts
9StatusLeast Concern


The Short-toed snake eagle is a fascinating bird of prey with a number of unique physical features that make it well-suited for its hunting lifestyle. This species typically measures between 55-70 centimeters in length, with a wingspan of up to 1.6 meters. Its wings are broad and powerful, with a distinctive “V” shape that makes it easy to identify in flight.

The Short-toed snake eagle’s plumage is primarily a dark brown color, with lighter patches on its head, chest, and underbelly. Its eyes are a piercing yellow color, allowing it to spot its prey from great distances. Its hooked beak is a formidable weapon, ideal for ripping apart the snakes and lizards that make up the bulk of its diet.

One of the most distinctive physical features of the Short-toed snake eagle is its long, slender legs, which are covered in thick, scaly skin. This skin is well-adapted to protect the eagle from the bites of venomous snakes, which are a primary food source for this species. Its long legs also allow the eagle to swoop down from great heights to snatch its prey from the ground.

In terms of height, the Short-toed snake eagle typically stands between 55-70 centimeters tall, with males being slightly smaller than females. Despite its relatively modest height, this bird’s impressive wingspan and powerful physique make it a formidable hunter, able to take on prey much larger than itself.

Habitat and Food

It prefers open landscapes such as grasslands, savannas, and semi-deserts, but can also be found in forested areas, foothills, and mountainous regions. This adaptable raptor is known to live in a range of elevations, from sea level to over 3000 meters in the Himalayas.

As its name suggests, the Short-toed snake eagle feeds primarily on snakes, although it also preys on lizards, small mammals, and occasionally birds. It uses its sharp talons to catch and kill its prey, often taking it to a perch or the ground to consume. This bird of prey is also known to eat carrion, which it may scavenge from the ground.

Nesting and Nurturing

Short-toed Snake Eagles typically lay one to two eggs per breeding season, which are incubated by both parents over a period of around 40 days. The eggs are typically laid in a nest made of sticks and twigs, which is built high up in a tree or on a cliff ledge. The nest is often reused year after year, with the birds adding additional materials to it each breeding season.

The eggs of the Short-toed Snake Eagle are a creamy white color, with brown speckles and markings that help to camouflage them against the surrounding environment. Once the eggs hatch, the chicks are cared for by both parents, who take turns hunting and bringing back food to the nest. The chicks grow quickly, reaching adult size in just a few months, and are able to fly after around 60 to 70 days.

One interesting aspect of Short-toed Snake Eagle nesting behavior is their preference for building their nests in trees that are located near water sources. This is thought to be due to their diet, which primarily consists of snakes and other reptiles that are often found near water. By building their nests in close proximity to these food sources, the birds are able to more efficiently hunt and provide for their young.

IUCN Status

Its conservation status is listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that the species is not considered to be at significant risk of extinction at this time.

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