Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Deschauensee's Keelback

Hebius deschauenseei

This species is found in Thailand, but not within Bangkok itself
Deschauensee's Keelback Northern Keelback Hebius deschauenseei งูลายสาบท้องสามขีด doi phu kha thailand
Deschauensee’s Keelback in Doi Phu Kha National Park (Thai National Parks / CC BY-SA)

English name: Deschauensee’s Keelback (aka: “Northern Keelback”)
Scientific name: Hebius deschauenseei
Thai name: งูลายสาบท้องสามขีด (Ngu Lai-saap Thong Saam Khid)

Description: To 48cm. Brown to yellowish-brown or olive-brown, with the top typically darker than the sides. Yellowish-to-tan dorsolateral stripes (sometimes broken into spots at points) with small dark spots above and below. Dirty-white, yellow, or beige lips with some brownish specks. Belly is white and covered with three or more rows of black spots, though at least one population only has black spots further towards the outer edges. Tail is long.

Relevant scale counts: 19 midbody scale rows, 9 supralabials, 2 preoculars, around 159 ventrals and 115-141 paired subcaudals. Scales are strongly keeled and notched.

Similar Species: Tai-yong Keelback has white lip and initial eyestripe, a clear white belly with dark spots only on the far outside, and 85-102 subcaudals.
Khasi Hills Keelback has narrow white lip which is continuous into indistinct dorsolateral stripes and a white belly with small brown flecks and 105-108 subcaudals.
Two-striped Keelback has more distinct stripes that proceed from the eyes rather than the lips, 7-8 superlabials, 1 preocular and 78-95 subcaudals.
White-lipped Keelback has a broad white stripe on the lips which continues to form “V” on the neck, dark spots only on the margins of the venter, and 99-103 subcaudals.

Range: Northern and western Thailand, northern Vietnam, and southeastern China.

Habitat: Hill forest near streams.

Place in the ecosystem: Likely feeds primarily on frogs. Would be eaten by larger snakes, civets, and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: Is a rear-fanged snake but is not known to be dangerous to people.

Conservation status and threats: This species may be threatened by logging and the conversion of its habitat to agriculture.

Interesting facts: This snake has almost never been seen outside of Thailand, with only five records known from Vietnam and China. However, it is locally common within its hill forest habitat in northern Thailand. The lack of finds outside of Thailand may be due to rarity, or difficulty in finding the species, or simple failure to identify it correctly when found.

References:
IUCN Red List: Hebius deschaunseei
Snakes of Northern Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Southeast Asia

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