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







Brown Kukri Snake

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Species : Oligodon purpurascens
Maximum Size : 95 cm

The Brown, or Purple, Kukri Snake inhabits lowland and lower montane forest, including secondary forest, to an elevation of around 1200 metres.

The species is described in the literature (Das, 2010) as being nocturnal, however the images presented here are of a specimen encountered late morning in bright sunlight. As with other kukri snakes, the species is fully terrestrial.

This snake feeds on a variety of other vertebrates including frogs, lizards and their eggs. It is also known to feed on birds eggs, presumably of birds nesting on or close to the ground.

It has a moderately robust body, with a short head which is no wider than the body. Its body colour is generally brown, becoming purplish with age, and is patterned with a series of equally spaced dark brown bands across the dorsum, which are black-edged, and typically with a wavy margin. Between these bands are additional narrower, indistinct dark crossbars.

There is a distinctive pattern of dark brown bands on the head which includes a forward-pointing chevron on the nape and on top of the head, and another band passing through the eye (though a similar feature occurs in many other species of kukri snake).

The underside is pinkish or yellowish with dark, squarish markings at the edge of most of the ventral scales.

There is a rare colour form in which the upperside is red, with yellowish, dark-edged crossbars (Fig 4.).

The Brown Kukri Snake ranges from southern Thailand through Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, to the Riau Archipelago and the  islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Java.

Fig 1 : Close-up of the head showing the distinctive arrangement of dark brown bands.

Fig 2 : This specimen, from Fraser's Hill, Peninsular Malaysia, was found at an elevation of around 800 metres. It was active late morning, and measured around 40 cm total length.

Fig 3 : Underside of the same specimen, which is coral pink in colour with squarish black markings.

Fig 4 : Rare red variant from Tioman Island, Peninsular Malaysia. Photo thanks to Serin Subaraj.

References : H10, H12, H14


Fig 4
ゥ  Serin Subaraj