Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Dragon Snake

Xenodermus javanicus

This species is found in Thailand, but not within Bangkok itself
Dragon Snake Javan Tubercle Snake Rough-backed Litter Snake Xenodermus javanicus Malaysia Ngu Tong Kao งูทองขาว
Dragon Snake in Malaysia (© Konrad Mebert)

English name: Dragon Snake (aka “Javan Tubercle Snake” or “Rough-backed Litter Snake”)
Scientific name: Xenodermus javanicus
Thai name: งูทองขาว (Ngu Thong Khao)

Description: To 75 cm. A light grey to dark grey snake, sometimes with brownish-gray on top. Three unique ridges formed by enlarged dorsal scales run the length of the body. The head is distinct from the neck and prominent nostrils face forward. Tail is especially long. Belly is lighter than top with scales alternating light and dark.

Similar Species: Laotian Bearded Snake lacks the dorsal ridges and has a smaller head which is not distinct from the neck. 

Range: Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand and Myanmar.

Habitat: Found near rocky streams or other water bodies in rainforest, usually in or adjacent to hilly regions.

Place in the ecosystem: Feeds on frogs.

Danger to humans: Not at all dangerous.

Conservation status and threats: Only two Dragon Snakes have been found in Thailand and only one individual found in Myanmar. Both finds were some decades ago so it may be extremely rare or even extinct in the northern part of its range. It is more widespread in Indonesia and Malaysia and appears to be tolerant of at least some human agriculture so its status there could be secure.

Interesting facts: This snake will sometimes go completely stiff when disturbed. The reason for this behavior is unknown. A video of the behavior can be seen here.

IUCN Red List: Rough-backed Litter Snake
Thai National Parks: Javan Dragonsnake
Reptile Database: Xenodermus javanicus
Reptiles Magazine: Dragon Snake

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