Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Two-striped Keelback

Hebius bitaeniatum

This species is found in Thailand, but not within Bangkok itself
Two-striped Keelback Kutkai Keelback amphiesma Hebius bitaeniatum งูแบมบ้า thailand doi inthanon chiang mai
Two-striped Keelback at Doi Inthanon National Park (© Klaus-Dieter Schulz)

English name: Two-striped Keelback (aka: “Kutkai Keelback”)
Scientific name: Hebius bitaeniatum
Thai name: งูลายสาบสองขีด (Ngu Lai Sap Song Khid)

Description: To 71cm. A slender snake with a long head. Brown to brownish-gray above with lighter tan sides. Two yellowish-brown stripes start from the eye and go down the body bordered above and below by blackish-brown lines. Lips are yellowish-cream or beige. Belly is yellowish-cream with orange edges and rows of small black lines down the sides.

Relevant scale counts: 19 midbody scale rows, 7-8 supralabials, 1 preocular, 160-175 ventrals and 78-95 subcaudals. Dorsal scales are strongly keeled and notched.

Similar Species: Khasi Hills Keelback has a white lip which continues into a more indistinct stripe, 141-153 ventrals and 105-108 subcaudals.
Deschauensee’s Keelback has a less distinct stripe, 9 supralabials, 2 preoculars, and 115-141 subcaudals.
Buff-striped Keelback is grey rather than brown with white/cream/buff stripes that are indistinct on the front half of the body, dark spots above and below the stripes, and distinct black scale margins on the lip.

Range: Northern Myanmar, south China, Laos, north Vietnam, and Chang Mai Province in Thailand.

Habitat: High mountain forest from 1800-2400m elevation, usually near streams.

Place in the ecosystem: Feeds on frogs and sometimes fish. Would be eaten by larger snakes, civets, and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: Is a rear-fanged snake but any potential danger to humans is unknown.

Conservation status and threats: Forest loss due to agriculture, logging, road-building and development could pose a threat to the species.

Interesting facts: The main photo above was taken by Klaus-Dieter Schulz in 1999. It was the first specimen of the species spotted in Thailand and was found at the quite high elevation of 1800m. Since then the species has been recorded several times in Thailand but it appears to have a very limited distribution.

References:
IUCN Red List: Hebius bitaeniatum
Amphiesma bitaeniatum, a rare mountain snake
Thai National Parks: Two-striped Keelback
On the occurrence of Hebius bitaeniatum in Vietnam
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Southeast Asia

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