PREVALENCE: Somewhat Common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Active at night
KEY ID FEATURES: Black to brown with red or bright orange dorsal stripe breaking up on the tail, red and black speckled head, white to light blue lateral stripe with black and white ventral scales
BEHAVIOR: Hunts on the ground and leaf litter, can be found trail side
SIZE: Small - ~40-60cm
OTHER: Can bite with little indication from physical posturing
RANGE: Southern Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra and Southern Philippinesin
QUICK ASSESSMENT 0-10
IMPORTANT: Many snakes have significant variance in coloration and pattern even within the same species. There can also be extreme differences in appearance from juveniles to adults so it is important to never assume you have properly identified a snake.
Relatively small the Malaysian Striped Coral Snake is a somewhat common but rather elusive snake. As with many species of coral snake the Striped Coral spends most of its time foraging in leaf litter and restricting its movements to night time. There is wide variability in color ranging from light brown to highly contrasting black and reds. Virtually all specimens will exhibit black and white block patterns on the ventral scales and a bright reddish orange underside of the tail. The head is small in indistinct from the neck.
Active at night and mainly hunts other snakes. Generally docile when approached they are not quick to bite but will do so if disturbed or handled. Normally slow and deliberate in their movement but they are capable of moving quickly when fleeing or hunting. When startled or threatened they will twitch wildly and sometimes bite, and can also dart quickly under leaf litter and flatten body against the ground to hide or make it difficult for predators to pick up. If head is attacked may curl tail into a spiral and display bright reddish orange subcaudual scales (those on the underside of the tail) as a decoy tactic. They tend to hunt in forested areas at various elevations. It should be noted that the venom gland of this species runs from the head down the first third of the body making it capable of delivering a larger dose than its diminutive head size indicates. Highly venomous and any bite should be treated as life threatening.
The Malaysian Striped Coral Snake is a terrestrial species often hunting at night. It can be found in forested locations where it lives and hunts in leaf littler. They are found at various elevations up to and possibly over 1,500m. Adept climbers it is not unusual to see them scaling exposed hill sides, rocks or up in and underneath ledges and overhangs.
NO SNAKE SHOULD EVER BE HANDLED BY ANYONE BUT EXPERTS: The Malaysian Striped Coral Snake is not normally confused with other species when found with high contrast black and red coloration, but could potentially be mistaken for the Eight Lined Kukri, and in its more muted color phase could be mistaken for many harmless brown snake species. Given its potentially lethal venom all snakes matching these descriptions should be observed at a distance.