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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2020

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Keelback sp. (Tabubil)
   
   

Family : NATRICIDAE
Species : Tropidonophis sp.
Maximum Size : unknown

There are at least 11 to 13 species of keelback extant in Papua New Guinea, and all are assigned to the genus Tropidonophis. They are identified by the raised keel which occurs on each dorsal scale : the snake in these photos has been identified as a keelback on this basis.

Keelbacks are accustomed to living close to water bodies : like most snakes they are adept swimmers. Typically they feed on aquatic fauna such as frogs and fishes.

The handsome orange-coloured snake shown here was found during the day on a roadside in the township of Tabubil, Western Province at an elevation of 520 metres. Perhaps it had emerged from a roadside ditch. Upon discovery and feeling threatened the snake reared up in 'cobra' fashion in an attempt to deter its discoverers from approaching further. This specimen exhibits typical keelback body form, with the head slightly wider than the body and moderately large eyes. The narrow bands of speckled scales which adorn the body and tail are also a typical keelback pattern.

The genus Tropidonophis occurs widely throughout the island of New Guinea and parts of northern and eastern Australia.


Fig 1 : This 30 cm specimen was found in the Tabubil area, Western Province at around 520 metres elevation. Based on these images it is only possible to identify the snake to genus level.  Photos thanks to Bernadette Williams


References : H6


 

Fig 1
 
ゥ  Bernadette Williams
Fig 2
 
ゥ  Bernadette Williams