Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia


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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Brown Cat Snake

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3










Species : Boiga irregularis
Maximum Size : 2.3 metres

The Brown Cat Snake is Papua New Guinea's only species of Boiga, a genus more commonly associated with Southeast Asia. It occurs in a wide range of habitats including cultivated areas, mangroves and forests up to an elevation of 1400 metres.

The images shown here are of a 1.3 metre specimen encountered at night along a quiet road through primary forests in the Gobe area of Southern Highlands Province, PNG at an elevation of around 800 metres. The typical strike pose is a warning of the temperament of this frequently aggressive species.

The species is identified by its brownish colour, generally with darker barring, its large head and large eyes with vertical pupil.

Its varied diet includes other vertebrates such as frogs, lizards, nesting or sleeping birds and smaller mammals.

The Brown Cat Snake is notorious for reasons wholly due to one of mankind's tragic ecological mistakes.  At the end of the Pacific War in 1945 the species is believed to have hitched a ride with U.S. military equipment being back-loaded from the PNG island of Manus to the Pacific island of Guam. There it multiplied rapidly forcing the extinction of numerous species of vertebrate, particularly the island's unique flightless birds.

The Brown Tree Snake is widely distributed throughout its natural range of PNG and Papua (formerly Irian Jaya). Its range extends westwards to the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi and the Moluccas, and southwards to parts of Australia.

Figs 1 to 3 : This 1.3 metre adult was found at an elevation of around 800 metres in the Gobe area, Southern Highlands Province, PNG.

References : H6