Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Tai-yong Keelback

Hebius boulengeri

This species is found in Thailand, but not within Bangkok itself
Tai-yong Keelback Boulenger's Keelback Hebius boulengeri งูลายสาบตะวันออก thailand
Tai-Yong Keelback in Khao Kitchakut National Park (Thai National Parks / CC BY-SA)

English name: Tai-yong Keelback (aka: “Boulenger’s Keelback”)
Scientific name: Hebius boulengeri
Thai name: งูลายสาบตะวันออก (Ngu Lai-saap Tawan Ook)

Description: To 88cm. A slender snake with a long head. Grey to blueish-grey or greenish-grey with black checkers and a distinct copper stripe, sometimes marked with spots, that runs down each side and turns white and narrows as it approaches the eye. The lip scales are white with brown margins. Head is brown above with large rusty-brown blotches in the back. Belly is white with small dots on the far outside.

Relevant scale counts: 19 midbody scale rows, 9 supralabials, 1 preocular, 139-156 ventrals and 85-102 paired subcaudals. Scales are strongly keeled and notched.

Similar Species: Khasi Hills Keelback has a narrow white stripe which is continuous with the upper lip rather than coming off the back of the eye and 105-108 subcaudals.
Deschauensee’s Keelback has a dirty white or tan lip and initial eyestripe, 2 preoculars, 137-140 subcaudals, and usually has 3 rows of dots lining the belly scales.
White-lipped Keelback has broader white lip which converges to form a “V” on the neck and 154-168 ventral scales.

Range: Southeast China, Taiwan, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and east-central Thailand.

Habitat: Hill forest from 100-900m in elevation, especially near small streams or rice fields.

Place in the ecosystem: Feeds on frogs and possibly also fish and freshwater shrimp. 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: When threatened this species will flatten out its head (possibly to give the appearance of being more dangerous than it is), or coil in a ball to hide its head and raise its tail so that a less vulnerable part of the body is attacked. Biting appears to only be used as a last resort.

References:
Reptile Database: Hebius boulengeri
IUCN Red List: Hebius boulengeri
Hong Kong Snake ID: White-browed Keelback
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Southeast Asia

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