Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia


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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Malayan Bridle Snake

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3











Species : Lycodon subannulatus
Maximum Size : 60 cm

Bridle snakes are so called because of the resemblance of their slender bodies to the leather straps or 'bridles' used to control horses.

The Malayan Bridle Snake occurs in primary and secondary forests and has a mainly arboreal lifestyle. It is a master climber; the specimens shown here were easily able to grip the trunk of a dying tree or the overhanging wall of a damp cave in their search for geckos, one of their chief prey items.

This is a relatively small species, which can be identified by the yellow-grey body colour, with thick, regular brown bands on the dorsal side which do not continue under the ventral side. A second form exists where the patterning comprises alternate brown and yellow stripes.

The species ranges from southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore to Borneo, Sumatra and parts of the Philippines. In 2017 the species was confirmed in southern Myanmar.

Fig 1 : Banded form inside a tree hole, Bukit Timah, Singapore.

Fig 2 : Striped form on moss-covered tree trunk, Danum Valley, Sabah, Borneo.

Fig 3 : Banded form inside a cave at Bukit Timah, Singapore.  Note the dorso-lateral flattening which allows the snake to grip surface irregularities on the rock wall.

References : H2, H3

Lee, J. L., Miller, A. H., Connette, G. M., Oo, K. S., Zug, G. R., & Mulcahy, D. G. (2018). First record of the Malaysian Bridle Snake, Dryocalamus subannulatus (Dum駻il, Bibron & Dum駻il, 1854), in Myanmar (Reptilia, Serpentes, Colubridae). Check List, 14(2), 341.