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







Painted Bronzeback

Fig 1

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5

Species: Dendrelaphis pictus
Maximum Size : 125 cm

The Painted Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus is a widespread and adaptable species occurring in a broad range of habitats. In its native habitat it is probably a forest edge species, as it is rarely  encountered in dense forest. It has adapted to a broad range of disturbed and man-made habitats including secondary scrub, parks and gardens.

It is fully diurnal - by day it actively searches for its food prey, which comprises mainly lizards and frogs, but by night it rests on narrow tree branches a few metres above the ground.

This snake is nervous in disposition, and will typically flee swiftly when disturbed.

The top of its head is brown to bronze, and there is a black eye-stripe which extends along the neck and a short distance down the body. There is a cream and black stripe along the flanks. The larger, vertebral scales, which run along the full length of the body, may be brown or olive-grey.

When threatened, or when consuming prey, this snake will inflate its body slightly to reveal bluish or turquoise skin underlying its body scales.

Its head is slightly larger than its moderately slender body, and its eyes are large, typically with a brown iris.

This wide-ranging snake ranges occurs in at least Myanmar, Thailand,  Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia), Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Java and Borneo.

Populations in Philippines and Sulawesi which were formerly referred to Dendrelaphis pictus are now referred to Dendrelaphis marenae (Vogel & van Rooijen, 2008).

Fig 1 : An example from Upper Seletar, Singapore, warming itself in the morning sun at the edge of secondary swamp forest.

Fig 2 : This juvenile example was found sunning itself on an exposed tree root in secondary forest, Singapore.

Fig 3 : Resting by night amongst palm leaves in a leafy suburb of Singapore.

Fig 4 : Exploring a fishtail palm, probably for geckos or other lizards. This is a typical specimen from Singapore, with brown vertebral scales.

Fig 5 : Devouring a Copper-cheeked Frog Chalcorana cf. labialis in Singapore's central forests.

Fig 6 : Specimen from Battambang, Cambodia, with olive-grey vertebral scales and strongly bronze head. Photo thanks to Ian Prothero.

Fig 7 : At night this species typically rests on slender branches a few metres from the ground.

References : H1, H2

Vogel, G. & van Rooijen, J. (2008). Contributions to a review of the Dendrelaphis pictus (Gmelin, 1789) complex - 2. the eastern forms. Herpetozoa, 21(1/2), 3-29.


Fig 6
ゥ  Ian Prothero

Fig 7