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Dendrelaphis cyanochloris (Wall, 1921)
by Ms. Nur Aina Amira Binti Mahyudin & Mr. Kaviarasu Munian
© Kaviarasu Munian

Blue Bronzeback or known scientifically as Dendrelaphis cyanochloris is classified under the family Colubridae. Frank Wall was the first to describe it in 1921. It is also known as Wall’s Bronzeback. This species is often confused with Dendrelaphis formosus (Elegant Bronzeback) as the color and pattern are almost similar. The Blue Bronzeback can be differentiated from the Elegant Bronzeback by having black stripe which starts immediately in front of the eye and extends onto the neck only. The Blue Bronzeback has smaller eyes compared to Elegant Bronzeback, and lacks three narrow, black lines posteriorly present on the latter snake. Apart from that, one can easily observe vivid blue of interstitial skin (skin between scales) when the snake inflated its body in defense.

Besides its enticing beautiful form, it is also a nimble creeper, diurnal and arboreal reptile that hunts on birds, lizards and frogs for its diet. The snake is able to grow up to 1.5 meter. The species is classified as non-venomous snake and able to lay eggs up to 5 at a time. Both hatchling and juvenile are resembled to its adult.

Blue bronzeback can be found in lowland primary and mature secondary forests up to 1000 meters above sea level. It is distributed from India through Burma and Thailand to Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. The recent discovery of the species Dendrelaphis ngansonensis indicated that it might belong to D. cyanochloris complex (Jiang et al., 2020). However, there are confusions existing between several species of Genus Dendrelaphis that require further study to answer the true distribution of each species (Lazell, 2002; Lim & Cheong, 2011; Geissler et al., 2011).

The individual in the picture is the first record of occurrence in Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) Campus. FRIM has home for almost 48 snake species in its forest although most of the forested areas are actually planted. Currently, the population of Blue Bronzeback is stable and classified as Least Concern (LC) under IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

References

  1. Geissler, P., Nguyen, T.Q., Poyarkov, N.A. & Bohme, W. (2011). New records of snakes from Cat Tien National Park, Dong Nai and Lam Dong provinces, southern Vietnam. Bonn zoological Bulletin. 60 (1), 9-16. https://zoologicalbulletin.de/BzB_Volumes/Volume_60_1/009_016_BzB60_1_Geissler_Peter_et_al.pdf
  2. Jiang, K., Ren, J., Guo, J.-F., Wang, Z., Li, D. & Li, J.-T. (2020). A new species of the genus Dendrelaphis (Squamata: Colubridae) from Yunnan Province, China, with discussion of the occurrence of D. cyanochloris (Wall, 1921) in China. Zootaxa. 4743 (1), 1-20
  3. Lazell, J. (2002). The herpetofauna of Shek Kwu Chau, South Sea, with description of two new colubrid snakes. Memoirs of the Hong Kong Natural History Society. 25, 1-82
  4. Lim, K.K.P. & Cheong, L.F. (2011). Dendrelaphis haasi (Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae), a new snake record for Singapore. Nature in Singapore. 4, 9-12. https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/app/uploads/2017/04/2011nis009-012.pdf
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