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

 
 
     
   
   

 

   
   
 
Ocellated (Eyed) Kukri Snake
   
   

Family : COLUBRIDAE
Species : Oligodon ocellatus
Maximum Size : 85 cm

Oligodon ocellatus inhabits parts of Cambodia, southern Laos and southern Vietnam. In 2021 the review of a historical preserved specimen also confirmed the presence of the species in the province of Ubon Ratchathani in eastern Thailand (Pauwels et al, 2021).

'Ocellatus' is derived from the Latin 'ocellus', which means 'little eye'; presumably this refers to the dark markings on the dorsal surface of the snake. Thus this species is commonly known as Ocellated or Eyed Kukri Snake.

This snake is known to occur in lowland and hill forest. It is considered to be nocturnal and arboreal, with one being found inside a treehole (Das, 2010), however the example shown here, from Siem Reap, Cambodia, was found by day on the ground.

In Vietnam, an example was found consuming an Asian Toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus on the ground in the early evening (Bringse & Holden, 2021); first it consumed the internal organs, after gaining access from the rear of the toad, before consuming the rest of the toad head first. The sharp kukri-shaped teeth probably helped the snake slice through the toad's flesh.

The overall colour of this snake may vary from yellowish-ochre to orange to brown. The example illustrated here is pinkish. Numerous dark saddles are present along the dorsal surface; between each pair of saddles there up to three vague bands, formed of dark-edged scales. The belly is described as salmon-pink.

There are chevron markings on top of the head, as occur in other species of Oligodon, for example Oligodon octolineatus ('Striped Kukri Snake').

Its body form is typical of kukri snakes, being robust, cylindrical in cross-section, and with a short  head. The tail is short.


Fig 1 : Example from Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was found by day amongst leaf litter in an area of lowland secondary forest.

Fig 2 : Leaf litter and secondary forest where this example was found.

Fig 3 : Dorsal view showing the complex arrangement of dark saddles and intervening bands.

Fig 4 : Close up showing the dark, chevron patterning on top of the head. The snout and upper lips are salmon pink.

All photos thanks to Derek Clark.


References : H12

Henrik Bringse & James Holden (2021). Yet another kukri snake piercing an anuran abdomen: Oligodon ocellatus (Morice, 1875) eats Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Schneider, 1799) in Vietnam. Herpetozoa, 34, 57.

Olivier S. G. Pauwels, Kanokorn Thongyai, Pajapon Chantong & Montri Sumontha (2021). Two new kukri snake species (Colubridae: Oligodon) from the Nakhon Si Thammarat Mountain Range, and addition of O. ocellatus to the fauna of Thailand. Zootaxa, 4908(4), zootaxa-4908.


 

 

Fig 1
  
ゥ  Derek Clark
    
Fig 2
  
  ゥ  Derek Clark
  
Fig 3
  
 ゥ  Derek Clark
 
Fig 4
  
 ゥ  Derek Clark