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



Tioman Kukri Snake

Species : Oligodon booliati
Maximum Size : 51 cm

This rare and uniquely coloured species of kukri snake is only known from the island of Tioman, which lies off the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

It was first discovered in 1962, but was not formally described until a holotype was acquired in 2001 (Leong & Grismer, 2004) : very few examples have ever been found or photographed. (A 'holotype' refers to a single example selected as the 'type specimen' during the formal naming and description process).

The species is typically encountered at night along walking trails within primary forest. 

This snake has body proportions and head shape which are typical of kukri snakes i.e. a relatively slender body, which is cylindrical in cross-section, and a head which is barely wider than its body. Its eyes are relatively small. These proportions imply a burrowing or fossorial lifestyle.

The dramatic colour of this snake is unmistakable : the holotype is described as 'deep maroon red', while the example shown here is better described as reddish orange. The underside is salmon pink.

There may be vague markings on some specimens, including between 19 and 22 dark, transverse bars on the body and faint dark stripes immediately behind the eye.

Figs 1 to 3 : Example from 2016, found on a forest trail on the slopes of Tioman Island.  Photos thanks to Serin Subaraj.

Reference :

Leong, T. M. & Grismer, L. L. (2004). A new species of Kukri Snake, Oligodon (Colubridae), from Pulau Tioman, West Malaysia. Asiatic Herpetological Research, 10: 12-16.

Fig 1
ゥ  Serin Subaraj
Fig 2
ゥ  Serin Subaraj
Fig 3
ゥ  Serin Subaraj