Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Khasi Hills Keelback

Hebius khasiense

This species is found in Thailand, but not within Bangkok itself
Khasi Hills Keelback Hebius khasiense Amphiesma khasiense งูลายสาบภูเขาสีน้ำตาล งูลายสาบภูเขาอินเดีย Doi Phu Kha National Park thailand
Khasi Hills Keelback in Doi Phu Kha National Park (Thai National Parks / CC BY-SA)

English name: Khasi Hills Keelback (aka: “Khasi Keelback”)
Scientific name: Hebius khasiense (formerly Amphiesma khasiense)
Thai name: งูลายสาบภูเขาสีน้ำตาล (Ngu Lai-saap Phukhao See Namdtan), งูลายสาบภูเขาอินเดีย (Ngu Lai-saap Phukhao India)

Description: To 60cm long. Body is slender and dorsal scales are keeled. Color is dark reddish brown with a somewhat faint rust-colored stripe on each side. Regular narrow dark bands also appear on most of the body, fading out near the head and tail. Lip scales are black with large squarish white blotches forming a broken line. Underside is white with small brown spots.

Relevant scale counts: 19 midbody scale rows, 141-153 ventrals and 105-108 subcaudals. All dorsal scale rows are keeled.

Similar Species: Tai-yong Keelback has a narrow white stripe coming back from the eye rather than being continuous with the white scales in the front part of the lip and 85-102 subcaudals.
Deschauensee’s Keelback is often yellowish- or olive-brown rather than reddish-brown, has dirty-white or colored lips rather than white, usually has 3 rows of spots on its belly and 115-141 subcaudals.
White-lipped Keelback has a broad, continuous white stripe across the lips which converges to form a “V” on the neck, 154-168 ventral scales with 99-103 subcaudals, and the first 2 rows of dorsal scales are smooth rather than keeled.
Two-striped Keelback has much cleaner, straighter stripes which start at the back of the eye rather than from a white lip-stripe.
Malayan Mountain Keelback has a white line on the lower front part of the body that is separated from the belly color and is only found in southern Thailand and Malaysia.

Range: Northeast India, northern Myanmar, southwestern China, northern Laos, and north/northeastern Thailand.

Habitat: Found in mountain forest streams at 800m-1400m elevation.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Khasi Hills Keelback helps control frog, toad, and insect populations. They in turn are eaten by larger snakes and birds.

Danger to humans: This species is not known to be dangerous to humans, but may bite if handled.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats over its broader range, though it is limited to a fairly narrow higher-elevation habitat profile.

Interesting facts: The Khasi Hills Keelback was a species once only known from a few remote hill locations in Northeast India, but was eventually found to be spread across China, Myanmar, and Laos as well. In 2009, Pauwels et al. published their findings that specimens in northern Thailand formerly referred to as the similar-looking Malayan Mountain Keelback (Amphiesma inas), were actually Khasi Hills Keelbacks. The species is now known to inhabit many mountains in northern Thailand, while the Malayan Mountain Keelback is restricted to southern Thailand and Malaysia.

References:
Amphiesma khasiense, de Khasi Hills Keelback
Wikipedia: Amphiesma khasiense
On the occurrence of Amphiesma khasiense in Thailand
A new species of the snake genus Hebius from Northeast India
Catalogue of the herpetological collection of the Queen Saovabhah Memorial Institute, Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok. 
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Southeast Asia

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