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







Kopstein's Bronzeback

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5

Fig 6

Fig 7



Species: Dendrelaphis kopsteini
Maximum Size : 1.5 metres

Also known as the Red-necked Bronzeback, this species was formerly confused with other bronzebacks, including the Elegant Bronzeback Dendrelaphis formosus, but since 2007 has been considered a species in its own right.

The distinguishing feature of Kopstein's Bronzeback is considered to be the orange-red colouration of the back of the neck: this is best seen when the snake expands its neck region. Further back from the head and neck region the scales are blue and brown, with a vague pattern of narrow bars.

The top of the head is deep bronze, and a dark stripe extends from the snout through the eye to the start of the neck. The lips, throat and underside of the neck are pale yellow.

Both arboreal and terrestrial in habits, the species appears to feed mainly on lizards, including tree-dwelling agamids. If its prey leaps to the ground to evade capture, this snake will quickly come to the ground too and continue the chase.

The species occurs in southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Sumatra.

Fig 1 : Specimen from Singapore's central forests on the hunt for prey. The neck region is inflated, enhancing the visual impact of the orange scales, and revealing the blue scales behind.

Figs 2 and 3 : The same specimen, with body inflated to reveal alternate pale blue and light brown banding.

Fig 4 : In this image, the neck and body are in their normal uninflated condition.

Figs 5 : Kopstein's Bronzeback preying on a Green Crested Lizard Bronchocela cristatella in Singapore's central forests.

Fig 6 : Preying on a Brown Tree Skink Dasia grisea in secondary forest, Singapore.

Fig 7 : A metre long Kopstein's Bronzeback emerges from a crevice within a wasp nest of the species Ropalidia sumatrae, 5 metres up in a tree trunk. The snake did not survive this encounter: 30 minutes later it was dead, after having been stung to death.

Reference :

Vogel, G. & Van Rooijen, J., 2007.
A new species of Dendrelaphis (Serpentes: Colubridae) from Southeast Asia. Zootaxa 1394: 2545.