Monday, July 16, 2007

This Snake Is Not So Elegant After All

We have been calling this beautiful snake the wrong name.

This elegant-looking snake that we have been calling Elegant Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis formosus) actually does not have a name until 18 January 2007 (Vogel & Rooijen, 2007). It is now named as Kopstein's Bronzeback (
Dendrelaphis kopsteini), after Dr Felix Kopstein (1893-1939). This newly-described species is thus different from Elegant Bronzeback, which is also found in Singapore.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" Juliet Capulet said. Kopstein's Bronzeback is still an elegant snake even if it is not named as
"Elegant Bronzeback" after all.

The snake identified in Lim and Lee (1989) and Lim and Lim (1992) as
Elegant Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis formosus) should be renamed as Kopstein's Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis kopsteini).


Lim, F. L. K. & Lee, M. T. M., 1989. Fascinating Snakes of Southeast Asia – an Introduction. Tropical Press, Kuala Lumpur, p. 53.

Lim, K. K. P. & Lim, F. L. K., 1992. A Guide To The Amphibians & Reptiles Of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre, p. 64.

Vogel, G. & Rooijen, J. V., 2007. A new species of Dendrelaphis (Serpentes: Colubridae) from Southeast Asia. Zootaxa 1394: 25-45.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Banded Krait Graced Launch Of Chek Jawa Wetlands

This Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus), photographed by Loh Kok Sheng and posted in his blog, made a pleasantly surprised appearance at the launch of the Chek Jawa Wetlands on the morning of 7 July 2007.

Norman Lim encountered this snake last year, also along a muddy shore, but on another northern island of Singapore. This 'common occurence' of banded kraits in aquatic habitats are unusual because these are known to be terrestrial snakes. Maybe we just do not know much about them.

It is common that people misidentified the Banded Krait as the Yellow-lipped Sea Krait (pictured above). Both species belong to the same family of Elapidae (a group of venomous snakes including cobras, old-world coral snakes and true sea snakes). However, kraits belong to the genus Bungarus while sea kraits belong to the genus Laticauda. Although both snakes have the black-and-white bands along their body, the Banded Krait lacks the paddle-shaped tail tip that its cousin Yellow-lipped Sea Krait possesses. This tail shape allows the sea krait to swim more efficiently in the open sea.

Tails of Banded Krait (above) and Yellow-lipped Sea Krait (below).

* All photographs by Loh Kok Sheng and Ria Tan.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon octolineatus)

The Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon octolineatus), as in all kukri snakes, possesses remarkably sharp teeth in the shape of kukri knives that probably allow it to cut open bird eggs, which form a large part of its natural diet (Lim & Lee, 1989; Lim & Lim, 1992). This nocturnal snake also feeds on frogs, lizards, other snakes, and frog spawn (Lim & Lee, 1989; Lim & Lim, 1992).

This handsome snake can grow up to a total length of 60 cm (Lim & Lee, 1989; Lim & Lim, 1992). It is non-venomous and is generally inoffensive (Lim & Lee, 1989; Lim & Lim, 1992). However, if it is provoked, it has a habit of hiding its head under its coil and raising and waving its tail to reveal the coral pink undersides (Lim & Lee, 1989). It also discharges a foul smell (Lim & Lee, 1989).

Breeding seems to occur all year round for this oviparous snake, which can lay up to five eggs in a clutch (Lim & Lee, 1989; Lim & Lim, 1992). In the wild, eggs are often deposited in soil, and in piles of vegetation debris and sawdust (Lim & Lee, 1989).

Oligodon octolineatus is considered a terrestrial-burrowing snake (Lim & Lim, 1992) and is fairly common in gardens, cultivated areas and forests in Singapore (Lim & Lee, 1989; Lim & Lim, 1992).

This is a roadkill photographed by Chan Kwok Wai in Choa Chu Kang on 1 July 2007.

This handsome snake was photographed by Norman Lim along Chestnut Avenue on 28 March 2006 at about 10 pm. Note the tail coiling displayed by the snake when provoked.

This snake was photographed by Wong Yueat Tin in Chinese Garden on 6 April 2006 at about 9 pm. It was initially on a pavement.


Lim, F. L. K. & Lee, M. T. M., 1989. Fascinating Snakes of Southeast Asia – an Introduction. Tropical Press, Kuala Lumpur, p. 46-47.

Lim, K. K. P. & Lim, F. L. K., 1992. A Guide To The Amphibians & Reptiles Of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre, p. 59.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dead Snake Attracted Food For Swallows

A post in the Bird Ecology Study Group blog reported how a dead snake, found along the road in Choa Chu Kang, attracted food (flies) for the Pacific swallows. In this case, as in nature, the carcass was "not wasted". At least the flies and swallows came before our efficient cleaners. But still, drive carefully. Snakes such as Banded Malayan Coral Snake, Keel-bellied Whip Snake, House Wolf Snake, and King Cobra have became victims of roadkills, which I believe is one of the biggest killers of this amazing animals.

Good Snakes Come In Pairs

We are lucky or what?

A pair of juvenile Wagler's Pit-vipers (
Tropidolaemus/Trimeresurus wagleri) were spotted at about 3 metres from each other in the forest of Bukit Timah on 30 June 2007. They were probably ambushing geckos that are common at the rocky habitat.

First snake:

Second snake:

Close-ups of the head:

Characteristic pose of this pit-viper:

The brown colour tail tip that is extremely prehensile:

* All photographs by Chim Chee Kong

Previous posts on this snake here and here.