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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Endemic Snake Species Around East Coast Sri Lanka - A Starter's Guide to Sri Lanka's Snakes
Joanna James Joanna James
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Endemic Snake Species Around East Coast Sri Lanka - A Starter's Guide to Sri Lanka's Snakes

49 out Sri Lanka's 103 snake species are endemic to the tropical island. Animal lovers and snake enthusiasts can discover these endemic snake species as they travel along the country's east coast.


Sri Lankan Flying Snake

Called in Sinhala as the 'Dangara danda', this remarkable endemic species spreads its ribs to flatten itself into a strip which helps it glide through the air. It generally makes it home in old trees and rarely enters human habitats. This snake species is generally found in the dry zone and intermediate climatic zones. If you are staying at a hotel close to nature such as Jungle Beach by Uga Escapes, you may be lucky enough to catch sight of a snake gliding from tree to tree.


Variegated Kukri Snake

Also known as Russell's Kukri, this is yet another snake that calls the dry zone its home. Unlike its Indian counterparts, the Sri Lankan Variegated Kukri is light brown with darker stripes and a pearly brown underbelly. It is quite a timid snake and is likely to flee at the first opportunity so you are unlikely to catch more than a fleeting glimpse of it.


Streaked Kukri Snake

This species of snake is spread across Sri Lanka's plains and hills and is recognizable due to its pinkish-brown hue and small brown dots. It is not uncommon to find this snake venturing into human habitation and the good news is that it is not venomous. If cornered, the snake does not attempt to bite but flattens itself. The Streaked Kukri primarily survives on a diet of reptile eggs, small lizards and frog eggs.


Oliver's Bronze Back

If you are staying at one of the Trincomalee hotels, you may be lucky enough to come across Oliver's Bronze Back. This species of tree snake has a slender body and large eyes which makes it look like it wandered out of a cartoon. Despite being arboreal, it is known to descend to the ground in search of food. Its diet includes insects and small lizards.


Sri Lankan Keelback Water Snake

This is a very common snake that is widely distributed across the country and even features prominently in a popular Sri Lankan folk rhyme as a 'Diya bariya'. The snake is a distinctive olive brown with bars across the initial part of its body. As a water snake, it prefers bodies of water but it is also found in dry zone areas.


Short Sea Snake

Short Sea Snakes have been sighted off Sri Lanka's east and north-west coasts. At 972 mm, it truly lives up to its name as a short snake. The Short Sea Snake has a stout body and a seemingly disproportionately large head which makes it easily recognisable. Short Sea Snakes primarily live in seas with muddy bottoms and their diets consist of aquatic invertebrates, fish and even eels. As it is categorised as a 'true' sea snake, they are completely aquatic and produce live young. Much like other species of sea snakes, Short Sea Snakes are venomous but they do not have an aggressive nature.