Family : ELAPIDAE
Species : Calliophis bivirgatus
Maximum Size : 1.8 metres
The Blue Malayan Coral
Snake is a beautiful, but highly venomous, front-fanged elapid. It inhabits
primary and secondary forest, in lowland and lower montane areas.
In common with many other elapids in Southeast Asia, its primary food source is other snakes.
It dwells amongst the leaf-litter on the forest floor, but seems to emerge
early to mid-morning especially when night-time rain has made the leaf
litter wet. Typically this snake is encountered crossing forest trails.
It is instantly recognisable by its red head, tail and belly. The dorsal
surface is dark blue to black, and most populations have a broad blue stripe
on each flank. Care should be taken not to mistake this species for the
Pink-headed Reed Snake Calamaria
This snake generally flees when disturbed, but at other times may remain
coiled on the ground with its tail erect as a warning.
There are 3 sub-species :
C. b. bivirgatus which inhabits Java (this subspecies lacks blue
stripes on the flanks).
(ii) C. b. flaviceps which occurs in Burma, southern Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Peninsular Malaysia,
Singapore, Sumatra and various islands of the Riau Archipelago (this
subspecies possesses a blue stripe on each flank).
(iii) C. b.
tetrataenia in Borneo (this subspecies has a cream stripe on each
flank, and no blue stripe).
Fig 1 : The bright red head, and deep blue body make this species easy
Figs 2 and 3 : Full views of a typical specimen of C. b. flaviceps.
Fig 4 : Close-up of the red tail, which may be raised as a warning to
All photos are of the same specimen from Singapore's central forests. This
snake was encountered early morning at the edge of secondary forest.