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



Yellow-spotted Keelback

Species : Fowlea flavipunctatus
Maximum Size : ~ 120 cm (?)

The Yellow-spotted Keelback (or 'Indochinese Chequered Keelback') is a widespread snake which occurs in many parts of northern Southeast Asia. It is semi-aquatic in habits, and it inhabits a variety of water bodies including lake margins, ponds, swamps and flooded rice paddies.

It appears to be mainly diurnal in habits, and it feeds on aquatic vertebrates, such as frogs and fishes.

Its basal colour may be brown, yellowish, cream, greenish grey or sometimes reddish, and it is patterned with dark markings, particularly along the flanks. Towards the rear of the body these dark markings develop into a reticulate pattern.

There is a dark marking beneath the eye, and another oblique marking towards the back of the  cheeks. Its body is cylindrical, its head is slightly larger than its body, and its eyes are moderately large with rounded pupils.

Within Southeast Asia Fowlea flavipunctatus is known to occur in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia. In Peninsular Malaysia the species appears to be restricted to northernmost areas (Quah & Shahrul, 2018).

Outside the region it occurs in Bangladesh, eastern India and southern China (including Taiwan).

In Singapore a localised population was once present at Upper Seletar (within the grounds of the Singapore Zoo); these were probably escapees (Teo & S. Rajathurai, 1997, as Xenochrophis piscator). There have been no sightings there since the 1990's.

Figs 1 and 2 : Example from Cuc Phuong National Park, northern Vietnam, photographed at the margin of a lake, mid-morning.  Its estimated total length was around 80 cm (+/- 20 cm). Photos thanks to Edgar Stich.

Fig 3 : Lakeside habitat of Yellow-spotted Keelback at Cuc Phuong National Park.

References : M9, H12

Quah, E. S. H., & Shahrul Anuar, M. S. (2018). Herpetofauna of the northern corridor: a review of recent herpetological discoveries around the Malaysian-Thai border regions. Journal of Wildlife and Parks, 33.

Teo, R. C. H. & Rajathurai, S. (1997). Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians in the Nature Reserves of Singapore 縫iversity, Abundance and Distribution. The Gardens Bulletin Singapore, 49, 353-425.


Fig 1
ゥ  Edgar Stich
Fig 2
ゥ  Edgar Stich
Fig 3
ゥ  Edgar Stich