Don't miss

Indonesian snakes

By on January 27, 2013

Indonesia is an archipelago that comprised  of  17.504  islands.  Indonesia as a tropical country is a comfortable place for reptiles to live, especially  for  snakes. In Indonesia live more than 400 species and subspecies of snakes.  Indonesia lays on   6 degrees of   north latitude  and  11 degrees of south latitude; and than 141 degrees of  west longitude and  and 95 degrees of east longitude.  The Indonesia  archipelagos consist of  plenty of  islands, from  west in  Sabang  till Merauke  in the east.

The seasons of this beautiful land  has only  two kinds,  first is rainy season that  takes place on September to February and the hot seasons takes place on the month of March to August. Generally reptiles  eggs  hatch on the beginning of the rainy season.

Brahminy bind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)

Brahminy bind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)


In Indonesia lives  the smallest snake of the world. Here, we call ular buta or ular kawat means the blind snake or  the string snake. The smallest blind snake is brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)  in family of  Typhlophidae. Indonesia has also the  longest and the heaviest snake in world, that is reculated python (Broghammerus reticulates) in Boidae family. And here in this country there is a venomous and biggest  snake in the world so people call  king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) or ular anang in Bahasa Indonesia.

According to the book of  Van Hoesel, 1059 who wrote the Ophidia Javanica (the Snakes in Java), there are about 400 species and subspecies of snakes in Indonesia. Yes, this data is out of date but till now seems no accurate data be based of field research. No data acceptable couse lack of field research to be done of Indonesian researcher  (?).

Some field research  has been done but seems not be based of the tue herpetological research.  Never found the report on scientific bulletin on the muzeum report or in the scientific magazine around the country.

The reticulated python (Broghammerus reticulatus)  is the biggest and the longest snake  in the world

The reticulated python (Broghammerus reticulatus) is the biggest and the longest snake in the world

Need to be held the true flield research among the archipelagos around Indonesia and report the result must be declared to the legal scientific bulletin or to scientific magazine.  In the field research aim is to recounted the amount of snakes species and further more  understandings of snake behavior and ecological  background. Sure, there are, plenty of uncounted species and subspecies  that must open to the would of herpetogical report. For example, the found so variously scales  in the heads and tails of the Ophiphagus hannah. Further research perhaps  can described the strange or the variation of this  scales  in the species of  Ophiophagus hannah from Java, Sumatra, Bali and Borneo or further DNA research can be taken to describe the deferences of the scales of the Ophiophagus hannah. We wait.

The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the biggest of all venomous  snakes in the world

The king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the biggest of all venomous snakes in the world

In Indonesia there are many variously habitats  found in snakes live; some are  terrestrial,  arboreal, aquatic, terrestrial aquatic, terrestrial non-aquatic, terrestrial arboreal. ( 1)Terrestrial snakes live in the land, behind the rocks, or in the hole of the soil especially  in the hole of rats nests.  (2) Arboreal snakes live in the branches of the tree, bushes and in the top of bamboo’s leaves. (3)  Aquatic snakes lives in water, fresh or in the sea. (4) Terrestrial and aquatic snakes lives with variation of this habitat. Sometimes live in the land and the other occasionally in the water.  (5) Terrestrial and non-aquatic snakes live in  the land but sometimes enter to the water for refresh from the hot season or for hunting the pray. (6) Terrestrial and arboreal snakes live ini land but sometimes reached the branches of tree for  pray or resting from the hot seasons.

Some snakes with the habitats decribed  above

1)      The terrestrial  snakes are: javan  cobra (Naja sputatrix), radiated rat snake (Coelognathus radiatus), sunbeam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor) and Russell’s viper (Daboia russellii)

The Radiated rat snake (Coelognathus radiates)

The Radiated rat snake (Coelognathus radiatus)

2)   The arboreal snakes are: mangrove cat snake (Boiga dendrophila), red tailed green snake (Gonyosoma oxycephala), asian vine snake (Ahaetulla prasina), common bronze back (Dendrelaphis pictus). They live in the trees.

The common bronze back (Dendrelaphis pictus), lays his head on the branches of the tree

The common bronze back (Dendrelaphis pictus), lays his head on the branches of the tree

 The red tailed green snake (Gonyosoma oxycephala), has beauty green colour

The red tailed green snake (Gonyosoma oxycephala), has beauty green colour

3)      The aquatic snakes  are:  puff-faced water snake (Homalopsis buccata), rainbow water snake (Enhydris enhydris), elephant trunk snake (Acrochordus javanicus); sea krait  (Laticauda colubrina).

The rainbow water snake (Enhydris enhydris)

The rainbow water snake (Enhydris enhydris)

4)      The terrestrial and aquatic snakes are: checkered keelback (Xenochropis piscator), rice pady snake (Enhydris plumbea), triangle keelback (Xenochrophis trianguligerus).

The rice paddy snake (Enhydris plumbea).

The rice paddy snake (Enhydris plumbea).

5)      The terrestrial and non-aquatic snakes are:  Brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus), Red necked keelback (Rhapdophis subminiatus), Russell’s viper (Daboia russellii).

The red necked keelback (Rhapdophis subminiatus)

The red necked keelback (Rhapdophis subminiatus)

6)      The terrestrial and arboreal snakes are: Indian rock python   (Python molurus),  Reticulated python (Broghammerus reticulatus), Chinese rat snake (Ptyas korros).

The Chinese rat snake (Ptyas korros)

The Chinese rat snake ( Ptyas korros )

The knowledges of the snakes behavior are very important for field research in the wild nature. This information can lead us easily to find the species we want to do research.  Every  researcher must understand this snakes habitat for making simple research or furher investigation of snakes ecological and environtment. For the expertise researcher is easy to find the species of snakes  he need but is very difficult for the commont people.

Ecological background

The snakes is very important element in paddy rice ecology especially paddy field (sawah). Healthy paddy field has no rats and the snakes as  the biological control can oppress the growth of rats population. Every farmer should know this ecology elements more detail. Cause one factor that can spoil the  crops of rice is the population of rats. The snakes are very effective agent for control the population of this little mammal. So, killing the snakes, especially the rat snakes  are forbidden and the wrong action for the harmony ecological  environtments. The very effective snakes who eat rats are  Ptyas korros, Broghammerus reticulatus, Coelognathus radiatus, Ptyas mocosus, Python molurus, Python curtus, Gonyosoma oxycephala etc.  The rats live in paddy field are Rattus rattus, Rattus diardi, Rattus argentiventer ets. and sometimes also be found mouse (Mus musculus) around the paddy field.

The spoiled of the rice crops.  One thing that threated the farmer is the spoil of  rice crops. The harvest can be obtained  is very little. The new paddy plants often  spoil or dead  before the plants grow. All of this make the farmers frustrating. If every crops spoild and the harvests  are bad the dangerous of starvation threated the farmers. So what can they do?  Hope right now they know to kill the snakes especially rat snakes means they kill themselves.

Modern medicine.  In the modern world, medicine may come from everywhere, plants, animals and chemistry compound. In this section the snakes venom is the important suntants for making antivenom for curing the snakes bite.  In the venom itself has many organic compound that can be analysed and separated  for curing the human illness. Further research for this may take place in many modern country. In the future  venom is very impotant for making some medicine.

Snakes biology. Snakes are reptile. They move with abdomen scales andshakes their bodies right and leaf for running and walking. They can running faster without legs. They eats mammals, birds, lizards, geckos, fishes, and somes eat snakes from the other species. For digestion their stomach secret enzims and HCl. In the venomenous snakes they produce venom for helping the digestion of the prey for making easy to digest. The snakes eat the prays with all part of the body. Snakes have teeth but the teeth fungsi not for chewing  the prey but for grabbing  the prey and injection of the venom.

The prey. The snakes need more time after taken a big prey for digestion, and the small snakes that seise the small prey need more active in getting prey.

Venom.  is the secrets of  gland venom and the gland venom  is come from the mutation of saliva glands. The venom is used  by the snakes catched the prey and for helping the digestion of the prey. One thing that must be understand, snakes also use the venom for defending thelselves among their  enemies. And human is not  the prey for snake. Venom comprises  of amino acid, sugar, organic compound, enzymes, proteins, and toxins. In ehe

Blood. Their blood are called cold blood for the heart not separated well and the blood is still not separated well (clean blood and dirty blood still mix together). Because of that,  the body temperature is not constand. The body temperature is the same with surrounding temperature.

Locomotion. Snakes tongues  have double ends. This tongue is use for indicating the situations surrounding  them by the air.  after put ini to the Jacobson’s  organs. The Jaconson’s organ is  in the snake’s mouth and with the tongue  help the snakes to conscious the situation arounds. Snakes move with  abdomen scales.

Breeding. The mating of the snakes need some menits until some hours. Afer copulation, the female pregnant. Need 70—90 days for  eggs to hatch (oviparous). Somes snakes bearing offspring (ovoviviparous).

Enemies. The powerfull  ememis for snake is human being. Hundreds of  snakes kill by human for their lether every days. The other enemies are moongse, alligator, birds  and  dogs also cats.

Illness. The snakes also have somes illness naturally, like mites, mould infections,  filariasis and bacterial infections that cause  dead.

Snake age. Some snakes can live  antil 25 years in cages, but in nature the age is usually more shorter.

The snakes  classification be based on DNA research and the nomen be based on Latin language vocabulary or be latined. Sometimes in the  scientific name to be found comfusing names in synonym but for the valid names must be back to follow the Latin grammer.

Classification of javan cobra

Classification of  javan cobra/Indonesian spitting cobra

Kingdom Animalia
Philum Chordata
Subphylum Vetebrata
Class Reptilia
Ordo Squamata
Sub-ordo Serpentes (Ophidia= Snakes)
Familia Elapidae
Genus Naja
Species Naja sputatrix
Epithet sputatrix = sputare means to spit
Binomial name Naja sputatrix
Author F. Boie, 1827
Valid name Naja sputatrix BOIE, 1827
Javan cobra or Indonesian spitting cobra  (Naja sputatrix  BOIE, 1827)
Javan cobra or Indonesian spitting cobra (Naja sputatrix BOIE, 1827)

The snakes families in Indonesia

In Indonesia there are 10 families of snakes, they are: 

1)      Cylindrophiidae, the pipe snakes family;

2)      Anomochilidae, the dwarf pipe snakes family;

3)      Xenopeltidae, the earth snakes family;

4)      Typhlophidae, the blind snakes family;

5)      Boidae, the python and boas family;

6)      Colubridae, the colubrid snakes family;

7)      Acrochordidae, the wart snakes family;

8)      Elapidae, the elapid snaks family;

9)      Viperidae, the viper snakes family;

10)    Hydrophiidae, the sea snakes family.

More detail about 10 families snakes in Indonesia.

1)      Cylindrophiidae (pipe snakes family). In Indonesia this family comprises only  one  genus  Cylindrophis.  All snakes  in this family  consist of 10 species. The body of the snakes cylindrical like pipe and breeding by ovoviviparous or bearing offspring. Example,  Red tailed pipe snake (Cylindrophis rufus).

The Red tailed pipe snake (Cylindrophis rufus)
The Red tailed pipe snake (Cylindrophis rufus)

   2) Anomochilidae (the dwarf pipe snakes family). This family has only 3 species witch spreading in  Sumatra, Borneo and Malaysia. The species includes: a) Anomochilus leonardi, b) Anomochilus weberi, c) Anomochilus monticola. The bodies  of these snakes resemble to the pipe snakes but more small and the tail is very short compared to the pipe snake.

3)      Xenopeltidae (earth snakes family). In Indonesia this family only has one species,  that is sun beam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor).  This snake has rainbow scales. This is non-venomous snake long only 70—100 cm.

The sun beam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)
The sun beam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)

  4)      Typhlophidae (blind snakes family).  This family comprises of  3 genus with 166 species. But ini Indonesia only about 34 species had been known. One species is very popular to the farmer is brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus). This little snake has only 8—15 cm in longhand diameter of  0,3—0,5 cm.This little snake eat  the eggs of ants. The colour of this little creature is blackis, brownis, and greyis. The snakes lay some eggs (ovoviviparous) to produce  offsprings.

The brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)
The brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)

5)      Boidae (python and boas family). This family of snakes consist of  20 genus and in Indonesia there are 7 genus. The 7genus of snakes in this archipelagos are: a) Broghammerus, b) Python, c) Bothrochilus, d) Morelia, e) Candoia = Enygrus, f) Chondropython, and g) Liasis. This  family has many species snakes that people like to keep as a pet. One species of very popular  snake  is the reticulated python (Broghammerus reticulatus). This snake can reached of 11 metres and has the weight of 100 kg. This  snake eat of progs, mice, rats,  and small mammal. In this world, reticulated python is the snake of pet. So many peoples like the snake. In the nature, this python live in the cave around the river banks, or in the hole in the rock of mountain. This snake breed with bearing eggs.One another popular  species of this family is the green tree snake (Morelia viridis) from Papua.

The reticulated python (Broghammerus reticulatus)
The reticulated python (Broghammerus reticulatus)
The green tree snake (Morelia viridis), is  very beautiful snake
The green tree snake (Morelia viridis), is very beautiful snake

    6)       Colubridae (colubrid snakes family). In Indonesia there are 240 species  of colubrid snakes in 41 genus.  Some of this species are the rat snakes the snakes that very important in paddy rice field ecology. One species that very familiar to the farmer is radiated rat snake (Coelognathus radiatus). This aggressive snake is very fond of rats, although not venomenous. The snake  lays  eggs for getting the offspring. And one snake of this family has to be cared carefully cause  the venom is dangerous to the  human being with O blood category. The snake named red neck keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus). This snake is only 70—100 cm (centimeters) long.

 The radiated rat snake (Coelognathus radiatus)
The radiated rat snake (Coelognathus radiatus)
The red neck keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus)
The red neck keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus)

 7)      Acrochordidae (wart snakes family). This family of snakes only has only 2 genus, that are a) Acrochordus and  b) Chersydrus. In Indonesia  there are 3 species of this family. The snakes live in mangrove and around the coastall area. They feed on fishes. Offspings  come from ovoviviparous. Along the coastall area of the  archipelago in Indonesia we can find this snakes. The popular one is elephant trunk  snake (Acrochordus javanicus). This snake has wart skin and fanny face and reaches about 2 metres long. The elephant trunk snake is non venomous snake.

The elephant trunk  snake (Acrochordus javanicus)
The elephant trunk snake (Acrochordus javanicus)

            8)      Suku Elapidae (elapid snakes family). This is the family of venomenous snakes. In Indonesia  there area 50 species of elapid snakes in 15 genus. In the world there are 200 species in 38 genus. King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is one of venomous snake in this family. This is the big and the long venomous snakes in world. The venom is neurotoxin. In Indonesia, king cobra has many variation on scales colour and scales number. It has to be more further research to over come the defferences of this snake. The king cobra can reaches more about  6 metres in long and about 7—10 kg  in weight. And the averate size is 3—4 metres. The king cobra feeds on the other snakes species. This snake is very fond of Chinese rat snake (Ptyas korros). This big snakes lay eggs for offspring. The vonom is very dangerous to human and animal. King cobra  is very handsome  snake and many of the snake charmers  in Indonesia use this snake for attractions and to make people pay more attention on him.

The king kobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
The king kobra (Ophiophagus hannah)

9)      Viperidae (viper snakes family). In Indonesia there are 15 species of viper snakes  in 7 genus. But in the world there are 40 species in 10 genus. One species is very popular to the people is Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma). This snake often bring to suffer and sometimes dead to the victim. This pit viper has only 60—100 cm. The snake feeds on mice, rats, lizard and frogs. Malayan pit viper lays eggs on the bushes and under the leaves of tree.  This snake has haemotoxin venom that can destroy the blood tissues in the victim. The other viper is tree viper know as wagler’s viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri). The wagler’s  pit viper has  neurotoxin venom.

The Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma)
The Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma)
The wagler’s viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri)
The wagler’s pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri)

10)      Hydrophiidae  (sea snakes family).  This is the family of sea snakes. In Indonesia this family consist of  32 species that can be found in all coastall area and along the reef s  in the archipelago of Indonesia.  In the world there are about 53 species of sea snakes. One the sea snakes that seems popular to the fisherman is sea krait (Laticauda colubrine). This snake has black and white in colour like the terrestrial snake of Bungarus fasciatus. All the sea snakes are venomous and danger to human and animals. They all eat fishes in the sea. The body of sea snake is cylindris and the tip of the tail like pedal for swimming in the water.  Sea krait has  only 60—80 cm long. The snake seems tame but still dangerous cause has neurotoxin venom.Indonesia has planty of snakes, this treasure must be kept and has to be care with full attention. The ecology of the snakes habitat must be controlled and  the pollutant  or any environtment destruction  must be put away. If the habitat and the harmony of snakes ecology has been changed means we destroy our beauty and  amazing animal in our country of  Indonesia.  What ever, Indonesia is tropical country with  plenty of beautiful snakes live there.

Writer:  Budi Suhono

Note: please, put correction or criticize for this article. Thanks.

We  also have  posters of Indonesian snakes.  Contact us in budipedia. com

References books

Bellaris dan Carrington, 1966, The World of Reptiles, London: Chatto and Windus Ltd.

Berhard, Sidney, 1968, The Structure and Function of Enzymes, New York: Benjamin Co.

Bucherl, W dan Buckley, Eleanor E. 1968. Venomous Animals and Their Venoms, New York: Academic Press, vol. 1.

—  1968, Venomous Animals and Their Venoms, New York: Academic Press, vol. II/III.

Brongerma, L.D., 1958,  Note on Vipera Russellii (Shaw), Laiden: Zoologische Mededeling, deel 36, No. 4.

De Haas, C.P.J., 1950, Checklist of the Snakes of Indo-Australia Archipelago, Bogor: Archipel Drukkerij, dari Treubia, vol.3, No. 3, p. 511-625.

Fowler, Murray E., 1979, Restrain and Handeling of Wild and Domestic Animals, Iowa State University Press.

Lim Leong Keng, Francis, 1991,  Tales and Scales, Singapure: Graham Bush Pte Ltd.

Goin and Goin, 1970, Introduction to Herpetology, San Fransisco: W.H. Freemen and Company.

Gow, Graem F., 1982, Australia Dangerous Snake, Australia: Angus & Robertson Publisher.

Heyne, K, 1978, Tumbuhan Berguna Indonesia, Jakarta: Yayasan Sarana Wana Jaya.

Kawamura, Chinzei dan Sawai, 1975, Snakebites in Indonesia dari The Snake, vol. 7, p. 73-78.

Kopstein, F., 1932, Bungarus javanicuseine neue Giftschlange von Java (Herpetologische Notizen), Treubia, vol. 14, p. 73-77.

Laporan, 1981, dari International Seminar on Epidemiology and Medical Treatment of Snake-bites, dalam The Snake, vol. 13, p. 63-67.

Lim Bo Liat, 1981, Ular-Ular Berbisa di Semenanjung Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur: Art Printing Works.Neuhaus, H., 1935, Vipera russellii limitis (Merten) dalam Treubia, vol. 15.Phelps,

Tony 1981, Poisonous Snake, London: Blandfort Press Ltd.Rogercaras, 1974, Venomous Animals of the World, USA: Prentice – Hall International Inc.

Shine, Richard, 1991, Australian Snakes a Natural history, Sydney, Australia: Reed Books Pty Ltd.Storer dan Usinger, 1981, Elements of Zoology, New York: Mc-Graw-hill Book Company, Inc.

Suhono, Budhy, 1984, Mengenal Ular Berbisa, Jakarta: Berita Buana, 20 Agustus.

— 1985, Menenggang Ular Berbisa, Jakarta: Majalah Zaman No. 19/VI/2 February.

— 1985,  Mengidentifikasi Ular Berbisa, Jakarta: Berita Buana, 13 Juni.

— 1985,  Memberantas Hama Tikus secara Kontrol Biologi, Jakarta: Berita Buana, 6 September.

— 1986, Ular Tanpa Bisa Tidak Berarti Apa-Apa, Jakarta: Majalah Warnasari, No. 84/ VII.

— 1986, Ularmu, Bung, Jakarta: Majalah Aku Tahu No. 36/III Februari.

Storr dan L.A. Smith, serta R.E. Johnstone, G.M., 1986, Snakes Of Western Australia, Perth, Australia: The Western Australian Museum.

Supriatna, Jatna, 1981, Ular Berbisa Indonesia, Jakarta: Bhatara Karya Aksara.

Tweedie, M.W. F., 1954, The Snakes of Malaya, Singapore: Government Printing.

Van Hoesel, J. K. P., 1959, Ophidia Javanica, Bogor: Percetakan Archipel.

Wall, Capt. F. I. M. S., 1902,  Aids to the Differentiation of Snake, Bombay: Journal Bombay Natural History Society, vol. 14, p. 337.

Wolf dan Eberhard Engelmann, 1981, SnakeBiolog, Behavior and Relationship to Man, Fritz: Jurgen Obst.

Young, Genevieve G., 1961, Wilton’s Microbiology, New York: Mc-

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>