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







Barred Kukri Snake

Species : Oligodon signatus
Maximum Size : 52 cm

The Barred Kukri Snake is considered to be a  rare snake, or at least it is rarely encountered. It inhabits lowland primary or mature secondary forest and is nocturnal.

Little is known of the ecology of this species but it appears to be secretive in habits, remaining largely concealed under leaf litter, treefalls and other forest floor debris.

In Singapore, where the species was first described in 1864, roadkill specimens are sometimes found in areas adjacent to the central nature reserves, which are heavily forested. The specimen shown here was found mid-morning, on a jogging trail through the forest : it is possible that heavy rain the previous night forced the snake into the open.

The ground colour is dark brown (sometimes with a faint purplish tinge), and the dorsum is adorned with red cross-bars which are either narrow and extend onto each flank, or are truncated and triangular in shape (as in the example shown here). Towards the head these bars assume a forward-pointing chevron pattern, which is typical of many species of kukri snake. The underside is reddish-pink.

The body is moderately slender and rounded in cross-section. The head is short and of the same diameter as the neck.

The Barred Kukri Snake Oligodon signatus is recorded from Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and Java. A population of the species, or at least a closely related species, occurs in parts of Borneo (Sabah, Sarawak) where it is referred to by the synonym of Oligodon subcarinatus. Tillack and G
nther (2009) consider O. signatus and O. subcarinatus to belong to the same species.

Fig 1 : Barred Kukri Snake from Singapore's central forests, measuring an estimated 45 cm. Note that part of the tail appears to have been lost in this specimen. It was found mid- morning on a jogging trail through the forest.  Photo thanks to Shrimathi Swaminathan.

Fig 2 : Mature secondary forest, Singapore - typical habitat of the Barred Kukri Snake.

References : H12, H14

Tillack, F., and Gnther, R., 2009.  Revision of the species of Oligodon from Sumatra and adjacent islands, with comments on the taxonomic status of Oligodon subcarinatus (Gnther, 1872) and Oligodon annulifer (Boulenger, 1893) from Borneo (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae). Russian Journal of Herpetology. Vol 16, no. 4, pp 265-294.


Fig 1
ゥ  Shrimathi Swaminathan

Fig 2