Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Malayan Spotted Keelback

Xenochrophis maculatus

This species is found in Thailand, but not within Bangkok itself
Malayan spotted keelback Xenochrophis maculatus
Malayan Spotted Keelback in peninsular Malaysia (© Orion Herp Adventures)

English name: Malayan Spotted Keelback (aka: “Spotted Keelback”)
Scientific name: Xenochrophis maculatus
Thai name:

Description: To 1m in length. Reddish-brown in color with indistinct black bars that are light (sometimes yellow) in the middle. A light, indistinct dorsolateral stripe passes through the light section in the bars. Head is grey with a large eye and white to yellow lips, nostrils face dorsolaterally. Belly is white or pale yellow with dark margins on all the scales.

Relevant scale counts: Scales are heavily keeled.

Similar Species: Speckle-bellied Keelback has a pale chevron that comes back from the lips and nostrils that face laterally.
Triangle Keelback has dark triangles pointing downwards on the sides with red areas between and alternating black margins only on the lateral half of the belly scales.

Range: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and southern Thailand

Habitat: Wet areas in lowland forest, preferring areas near water but not as limited to those habitats as other related species.

Place in the ecosystem: Feeds primarily on frogs. Would be eaten by civets, larger snakes and monitors.

Danger to humans: Is a rear-fanged snake but its venom properties and potential danger are unknown.

Conservation status and threats: It does not appear common in the wild but there are no known threats.

Interesting facts: Until recently, the Malayan Spotted Keelback was only known to be found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore. Then in April 2019 Ton Smits of Tontan Wildlife Tours found one in Narathiwat Province on the extreme southern end of Thailand (pers. comm. Rushen Jaihan). Many of the edges of Thailand’s wilderness are very little explored, and it is likely that more such species previously unknown from Thailand will be found within its borders.

References:
Ecology Asia: Spotted Keelback
Thai National Parks: Malayan Spotted Keelback
A new species of the natricine snake genus Amphiesma from Borneo
Field Guide to Reptiles of South-East Asia

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