Paiwan Keelback

排灣腹鏈蛇 (pai2wan1fu4lian4she2)

Status: Not Protected



This is a recently discovered, yet undescribed species pending assignment of a scientific name.

The first publication to portray this species in more detail is the following new field guide on the reptiles & amphibians of Taiwan:

 台灣兩棲爬行類圖鑑, 2009, by 向高世, 李鵬翔 & 楊懿如

All information below was taken from this book.



Paiwan Keelback in the wild





Family Colubridae, subfamily Natricinae


Max. length 89 cm


Occurrence in Taiwan

Currently, the only records are from a few small locations in Southern Taiwan, between 500 and 1300 meters altitude.


Global Distribution

Endemic to Taiwan




With a total length up to 89 cm, this medium-sized snake is the largest of the known keelback species in Taiwan. The background color of the body is grey to olive, while the head is medium brown. There are 19 rows of dorsal scales. The front third of the body bears incomplete yellow stripes; including a conspicuous "V"-shaped stripe on the nape of the neck. The ventral scales are bright yellow. 


Biology & Ecology

Like most natricine snakes, the cathemeral (diurnal and nocturnal) Paiwan Keelback can be found close to streams and ponds, as well as in wetlands, where it preys mostly on frogs and lizards. When approached, the snake displays fierce defense behavior. The female is markedly bigger than the male. Judging from the hatchlings observed in May and June, it is assumed that this species starts mating in spring.



The English and Chinese common name "Paiwan Keelback/排灣腹鏈蛇 (pai2wan1fu4lian4she2)" was chosen in honor of the aboriginal Paiwan tribe in whose vicinity the snake was discovered.

Amphiesma:   Greek for "garment, vestment", named in apposition to the epithet of the type species, Amphiesma stolatum, which itself is classic Greek for "garment" (i.e. stole), in allusion to the pale bands that run down each side of the back.

sp. : This species is currently being described. No proper scientific name has been selected yet.








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