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Indo-Chinese Sand Snake

01 May

Psammophis indochinensis

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake in Chiang Mai Province (photo by Paul Donatus)

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake from above (photo by Paul Donatus)

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand

Head shot of Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (photo by Paul Donatus)

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis condenarus)

Captive-bred Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (photo by save-snakes.com)

English name: Indo-Chinese Sand Snake
Scientific name: Psammophis indochinensis (formerly known as Psammophis condanarus indochinensis)
Thai name: Ngu Man-tong

Description: To 107cm long. A slender snake with an oval head. Its upper body is olive to buff with four dark brown stripes, splitting the body evenly into dark and light stripes. Underbelly is yellow with a thin black line bordering each side.

Similar Species: Painted Bronzeback has a black stripe on its side that goes through the eye, a much broader brown area on its back, and a white underbelly.
Buff-striped Keelback lacks the brown stripes on the side of the light stripes, and has dark bands all along the body.
Striped Kukri Snake has a light stripe down the middle of its back, has less distinct striping, has characteristic dark markings on its head, and has a red or pink underbelly.
Rainbow Water Snake is much thicker, is darker with less distinct striping, and is almost always found in the water.

Habitat: Lives in moist open woodland, scrubland, and grassland. Is often found climbing trees and bushes, but will often rest in burrows.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Indo-Chinese Sand Snake feeds on rodents, frogs lizards, and smaller snakes. This snake is eaten by larger snakes, birds of prey, and monitors.

Danger to humans: Has rear fangs but is not dangerous to humans. The bite may cause some swelling.

Conservation status and threats: Much of this snake’s habitat has been converted into agricultural land, and it is now rarely seen. I know of no one who has seen an Indo-Chinese Sand Snake in Bangkok, and the last sighting I know of in Chiang Mai was more than five years ago. Though it has a wide range the agricultural threats to its habitat exist across its range and it may be in some danger.

Interesting facts: The Indo-Chinese Sand Snake gets its name from its use of habitats with sandy soils, where it takes shelter in the burrows of other animals.

References:
IUCN Red List: Psammophis condanarus
Thailand Snakes! IndoChinese Sand Snake
Michael Cota, personal communication
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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