Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Malayan Mountain Keelback

Hebius inas

This species is found in Thailand, but not within Bangkok itself
Malayan Mountain Keelback Gunung Hebius inas Amphiesma งูลายสาบมลายู
Mayalan Mountain Keelback in Malaysia (© Steven Wong)

English name: Malayan Mountain Keelback (aka: “Gunung Inas Keelback”)
Scientific name: Hebius inas (formerly Amphiesma inas)
Thai name: งูลายสาบมลายู (Ngu Lai Saap Malayu)

Description: To 62cm. Body is dark brown with a beige line on each upper side typically broken up into spots and a broken white line on the lower flank. Head is mottled brown and black with striking white blotches on the lip which loosely connect to the dorsolateral line. Belly is white with large black spots on the edge of each scale, which in the front are not all the way on the edge and thus leave a white line on the bottom side of the body.

Relevant scale counts: 19 midbody scale rows, 141-151 ventrals and 93-109 paired subcaudals with a divided anal scale. Dorsal scales are keeled.

Similar Species: Tai-yong Keelback has white subralabials (rather than blotches) and a dorsal stripe that is continuous with a white eyestripe rather than with the lips.
Groundwater’s Keelback has yellow lip, yellow V-shaped marks that connect on the back of the neck, 17 midbody scale rows, 120-134 subcaudals and an entire anal.
Khasi Hills Keelback has dark marks all the way on the end of the ventral scales so there is no white line separated from the belly color, and is only found in northern Thailand and beyond.

Range: South Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, and Sumatra.

Habitat: Wet montane forest at 1000-1500m elevation. It may be found further from water bodies than other related keelbacks.

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

Danger to humans: Is a rear-fanged snake but whether it is dangerous to people is unknown.

Conservation status and threats: The Malayan Mountain Keelback is only known from a few limited mountain regions, but there is no known threats to those habitats at this time.

Interesting facts: Many snake species are extremely restricted by the elevation at which they can thrive. These elevation restrictions may be related to temperature (either preferred active temperatures or the tolerated limits of low or high temperatures), climate, plant life associations, or other factors. The Malayan Mountain Keelback appears to thrive in habitats between 1000 and 1500 meters in elevation, and thus is not found in the lower hills and lowlands between those mountain heights even if many other species of snake do just fine there.

References:
Ecology Asia: Malayan Mountain Keelback
Reptile Database: Hebius inas
IUCN Red List: Gunung Inas Keelback
Thai National Parks: Malayan Mountain Keelback
A new species of the snake genus Hebius from Northeast India
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Southeast Asia

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