Dendrelaphis pictus

Painted Bronzeback Common Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus Malaysia
Painted Bronzeback in peninsular Malaysia (© Steven Wong)

English name: Painted Bronzeback (aka “Common Bronzeback”)
Scientific name: Dendrelaphis pictus
Thai name: งูสายม่านพระอินทร์ (Ngu Sai-man Pra In)

Description: To 125 cm long. A long, slender snake. Body is olive-brown to brown above with a bright yellow to cream line running down each side bordered on one or both sides by black. When threatened it will expand its body, showing off the blue skin between the scales. Head is bronze above and yellowish below, with a black eyestripe that connects to the black body line. Belly is pale yellowish.

Relevant scale counts: 15 midbody scale rows with the vertebral scales enlarged. 161-182 ventrals and 113-147 subcaudals.

Similar Species: Indo-Chinese Sand Snake lacks the black eyestripe and has yellow and brown striping of roughly the same width.
Mountain Bronzeback has a light dorsal line towards the front and has a rather indistinct black eyestripe.
Striped Bronzeback has black lines on the body and lacks the black eyestripe.
Haas’s Bronzeback has a lighter head, a narrower black eyestripe, and a duller or barely visible dorsolateral line.
Blue Bronzeback and other related species lack the dorsolateral line.

Range: From northeast India east across Bangladesh, Myanmar, and south China, throughout southeast Asia into Malaysia and Indonesia.

Habitat: Found in forests, scrubland, parks, and agriculture from sea level up to 1,500m. Often seen on the edge of small clearings or in other habitat transitions that get more sunlight. Is partially arboreal.

Place in the ecosystem: Eats frogs and lizards. Is fed on by larger snakes and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: Will bite if threatened but is not dangerous to humans.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats – it is widespread and tolerates many human-altered habitats.

Interesting facts: The Painted Bronzeback is quick and flighty and will usually flee immediately when approached. If it is cornered and can no longer flee it will inflate its body, showing off the bluish skin between its scales. This display threat potentially surprises the foe with bright colors and by making the snake appear larger than it normally is.

Ecology Asia: Painted Bronzeback
Wikipedia: Painted Bronzeback
Contributions to a review of the Dendrelaphis pictus complex – 1. Description of a sympatric species
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia