Dendrelaphis pictus, Gmelin, 1789 Painted Bronzeback
English name: Painted Bronzeback
- 15 dorsal scale rows at midbody
- one loreal scale
- 6-7 temporal scales
- supralabials 4,5 and 6 touch the eye (4th with posterior corner)
- a short first sublabial that touches infralabials 6 and 7
- vertebral scales strongly enlarged, larger than the scales of the first dorsal row
- 183-189 ventrals
- 126-133 subcaudals
- a divided anal shield
- a relatively compact build, snout-vent length/ head-length 23.5-28.5
- a black postocular stipe that starts on the loreal, covers the whole temporal region and textends onto the neck where it is broken up oblique black bars
- the presence of black narrow stripe in the posterior half of body, covering the lower half of the third dorsal row
- the absence of a light ventrolateral stripe
Drawing of Dendrelaphis pictus Adapted from India Snakes, Nicholson Edward (1874)
This diurnal species is predominantly arboreal. It can also be found on the edge of small clearings or in other habitat transitions for basking.
Prey and Being Preyed
It actively hunt on lizards and amphibians primarily (Rooijen and Vogel, 2008)5 .
Dendrelaphis pictus preying on Copper-cheeked frog Rana chalconata (Photo by: Nick Baker @Ecology Asia)
Some cases of high "self-estimation":
A sub-adult Dendrelaphis pictushas been spotted in attempting to swallow a large tadpole prey in Singapore Zoo. The snake was resting on a waterlily (Victoria amazonica) with a tadpole which was identified as common greenback, Hylarana erythraea (Leong et al., 2009)6 . The sub-adult was estimated to be 50 cm with a head width of 5-6 mm. The tadpole has noticeable skin tear and compression which matches the outline of snake's upper jaw.
|A sub-adult painted bronzeback resting on waterlily with an abandoned tadpole (arrow) Photo by Charlene Yeong permission pending|
Picture on the left shows Dendrelaphis pictushas been spotted on habitat transition, grass patch of Nanyang Technology University, Singapore. The frog is likely to be a Field frog, Fejervarya limnocharis.
Due to its small body size, it also provide food for larger snakes and birds for prey.
|This active snake has restless habit and quick movement.|
It is usually shy and will flee quickly when disrupted. In time of threat, when it is cornered with no where to flee, it will inflate its body and flatten the neck laterally to reveal turquoish colour, wide gape and bright red tongue.
|Dendrelaphis pictus is an inoffensive creature (Video taken in Thailand by: Vern L.)||Dendrelaphis pictus found under mattress (Video taken in India by Faazea)|
Oviparous. Has been reported to lay 3-8 eggs in hollow tree stem.Period of gestation is believed to be 4 to 6 months and eggs hatch 4 to 6 weeks after laying. Development begins before they are voided (Daniel, 2002)7 . Neonates hatch to be minature of adult snake are usually 8-12 cm long.
Neonates of Dendrelaphis pictus (Photo by: Francis Cosquieri, permission pending)
Dendrelaphis pictus ranges from India, Myanmar, Southern China, Thailand, Peninsular of Malaysia, larger islands of Indonesia, Philippine Island and Singapore. It is widely observed in all habitats in Singapore and thus considered the most commonly encountered snake here.
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Sexual dimorphism in morphology or body size is common among reptiles (Camilleri and Shine, 1990)8 . More than 60% of taxa of snakes are sexually dimorphic in adult body size with female larger than males (Shine, 1978)9 .
In Dendrelaphis, females grow larger than males. Studies have done on head measurements and shown that females have relatively larger heads (Camilleri and Shine, 1990)8 . This trait has been identified in many other species (Greene et al., 1997)10 . Dietary divergence might be the important selective force for the evolution of head-size and shape dimorphism. Males have been reported to have larger eyes than females (Greene et al., 1997)10 .
Head measurements done in Dendrelaphis (Camilleri and Shine, 1990)8
Dendrelaphis has more than 40 de scripted species and some of them are closely alike.
Common Indian Bronzeback
Dendrelaphis pictus belongs to Colubridae which . There are three subspecies for this group: Dendrelaphis pictus pictus, Gmelin 1788 , D. p. inornatus, Boulenger 1897 and D.p. intermedius, Mertens 1927b (How et al., 1996)11
The systematics of this genus have remained ambiguous and incomplete (Rooijen and Vogel, 2008)5 . Many new species has been isolated for this group from different regions and their mophological descriptions has been updated along the way.
Coluber pictus GMELIN in LINNAEUS 1789: 1116
This beautiful creature is very adaptable to wide range of habitat thus making it a popular subject for pet trade. Their abundance in Southeast Asia has also made them vulnerable to poachers. They can be easily found on online shops and many of the times they are sold out!!
Due to the unavailability of natural food resources, many of the keepers have to switch the diet of their snakes from frogs an lizards to rodent and worms. Snakes which do not prefer their new diet have to be force-feed which may be dangerous and easily cause injuries on snakes.
|Force feeding of a snake||Green tree snake was feed using wax worm|
|1||F.L.K. Lim and M.T.M. Lee, 1989, Fascinating snakes of Southeast Asia - An Introduction. Kuala Lumpur, Tropical Press.|
|2||R.B. Stuebing and R.F. Inger, 1999, A field Guide to the Snakes of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu, Natural History Publications|
|3||T. Chan-ard, W. Grossmann, A. Gumprecht, K.-D. Schultz, 1999, Amphibians and Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand. An illustrated checklist, Wuerselen, Germany, Bushmaster publications|
|4||Nicholson Edward ,1874, Indian snakes: an elementary treatise on ophiology with a descriptive catalogue of the snakes found in India and the adjoining countries, Madras: Higginbotham [ a b c ]|
|5||J. van Rooijen and G. Vogel, 2008. Contributions to a review of the Dendrelaphis puctus complex (Serpentes:Colubridae)-1. Description of a sympatric species, Amphibian-Reptilia 28:101-115 [ a b c d ]|
|6||T.M. Leong, C. Yeong and R. Subaraj, 2009, Attempted predation on a tadpole by a Painted Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus (Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae), Nature in Singapore 2:361-364|
|7||J. C. Daniel, 2002, The book of Indian Reptiles and Amphibians, Oxrford University Press|
|8||Caroline Camilleri and Richard Shine, 1990. Sexual dimorphism and dietary divergence: differences in trophic morphology between male and female snakes, Copeia 3: 649-658 [ a b c ]|
|9||Richard Shine, 1978. Sexual size dimorphism and male comat in snakes. Oecologia 33:269-277|
|10||Harry W. Greene, Michael Fogden and Patricia Fogden,1997, Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature, University of California Press [ a b ]|
|11||R.A. How, L.H. Schmitt and Maharadatunkamsi, 1996, Geographical variation in the gnus Dendrelaphis (Serpentes: Colubridae) within the islands of south-eastern Indonesia, Journal of Zoology 238: 351-363|
This page was authored by Liu Shan Shan
Last curated on 2012