Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia


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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2021



New Guinea Small-eyed Snake

Species : Micropechis ikaheka
Maximum Size : 2.1 metres

The New Guinea Small-eyed Snake, or Ikaheka Snake, is a wide-ranging species occurring in a variety of habitats ranging from lowland swamp forest to lower montane forest of up to 1500 metres elevation. The species is highly venomous, and can be aggressive : it should be treated with extreme caution.

It is mainly ground-dwelling and burrowing in habit : in some areas significant populations can occur in coconut plantations, where the snakes hide under piles of coconut husks.

Its body is thickset, the tail is short and the head is barely wider than the body. In common with other species of burrowing snake, its eyes are small.

The head is generally dark, and the background colour of the body generally pale. Dark brown banding occurs along much of the body, and these bands become progressively darker posteriorly. The bands themselves are often edged with dark brown to brownish black. There are many variants to this 'standard' colour scheme and patterning, however.

Its diet includes a wide variety of vertebrates including frogs, small mammals (especially rodents), lizards and other snakes, and is reportedly cannibalistic.

The New Guinea Small-eyed Snake ranges widely through much of New Guinea, including the Aru Islands to the west. In Papua New Guinea it occurs in most provinces, though is less widely distributed in the south.

Fig 1 : This specimen, from the Southern Highlands Province of PNG, exhibits typical colour and patterning for Small-eyed Snakes found in the area.

References : H6


Fig 1
Photo : Anon