Sunday, January 16, 2011

Barred Kukri Snake, Striped Kukri Snake

Snakes of the genus Oligodon are commonly known as Kukri snakes. They are so-named due to the curved hind fangs at the back of their mouth. Those fangs evolved to suit Kukri snakes’ diet of chiefly eggs. As the eggs are swallowed, they would be pierced open by the special fangs. The fangs’ shape reminds one of the famous Kukri knife used by Nepalese.

Singapore has three types of Kukri snakes: Brown Kukri (Oligodon purpurascens), Striped Kukri (Oligodon octolineatus) and Barred Kukri (Oligodon signatus).

Of the three, Striped Kukri snake is the most common and can inhabit suburban areas. Sometimes road kills are encountered, like this poor soul from 2006.

The other two species prefer forests in the nature reserves and thus rarer. Local books list them as ‘restricted to a few areas and rare’ and ‘critically endangered’. Perhaps of the two species, Barred Kukri snake is of more significance because Singapore is the type locality and knowledge on its biology is scarce.

So it was with great pleasure that a Barred Kukri snake was seen recently during a survey. The bright reddish-brown bands on its back are certainly attractive. And as the cameras clicked away, this elusive forest dweller slowly slipped back into the forest darkness. Thus ending a rare glimpse into another one of nature’s mysteries.

Pictures taken at: Eng Neo, June 2006; Central Catchment Nature Reserve, December 2010.


Baker, N. & K. K. P. Lim, 2008. Wild Animals of Singapore. A Photographic Guide to Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians and Freshwater Fishes, Draco Publishing and Distribution Pte Ltd, Singapore.

Davison, G. W. H., P. K. L. Ng & H. C. Ho (eds), 2008. The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore. 2nd Edition. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore


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