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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2023



Red-tailed Pipe Snake

Species : Cylindrophis ruffus
Maximum Size : 90 cm

Cylindrophis ruffus is a lowland species of asian pipe snake, generally preferring swampy, forested habitats, but it may also occur in disturbed, agricultural areas.

It leads a burrowing lifestyle: its body shape is cylindrical in cross-section and is ideally suited for pushing through soft soil and compacted leaf litter. It feeds mainly on other snakes and eels, and is a good swimmer.

Its body is dark but iridescent, with indistinct lighter, sometimes reddish, bands. The blunt tail has reddish colouration which it displays when threatened. Typically there is a broad, light band on the back of the neck. There is an irregular pattern of pale bars and blotches on the underside.

Its head is short and blunt, and of the same width as the body, and the eyes are small.

In 2015, the Red-tailed Pipe Snake in Singapore was described as a separate species, Cylindrophis mirzae, by Amarasinghe et al, however the validity of this is questioned by other researchers (Kieckbush et al, 2016).

Fig 1 : Dorsal side, with typical pale, orange-red banding.

Fig 2 : Ventral side, with broken white bars.

Fig 3 : The head is barely wider than the body and the eyes are small.

Fig 4 : Here the tail is raised as a warning sign.

All photos are of the same specimen from Singapore, thanks to Benjamin Lee.

References : H1, H2

Amarasinghe, A. A. T., Campbell, P. D., Hallermann, J., Sidik, I., Supriatna, J., & Ineich, I. (2015). Two new species of the genus Cylindrophis Wagler, 1828 (Squamata: Cylindrophiidae) from Southeast Asia. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, 9(1), 34-51.

Kieckbusch, M., Mecke, S., Hartmann, L., Ehrmantraut, L., O担hea, M. & Kaiser, H. (2016). An inconspicuous, conspicuous new species of Asian pipesnake, genus Cylindrophis (Reptilia: Squamata: Cylindrophiidae), from the south coast of Jawa Tengah, Java, Indonesia, and an overview of the tangled taxonomic history of C. ruffus (Laurenti, 1768). Zootaxa, 4093(1), 1-25.


Fig 1
ゥ  Benjamin Lee
Fig 2
ゥ  Benjamin Lee
Fig 3
ゥ  Benjamin Lee
Fig 4
ゥ  Benjamin Lee