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.
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).
Figs 1 to 3: Typical specimen of C. b. flaviceps from Singapore's central forests.
This snake was encountered mid-morning at the edge of primary forest :
it moved quickly into the forest, and tried to conceal itself beneath a
tangle of vegetation, however its bright red tail remained visible.