Dendrelaphis is a genus of colubrid snakes, distributed from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and southern China to Indonesia, Timor-Leste, the Philippines, Australia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. There are over forty described species. Asian species are known as bronzebacks. All are non-venomous and entirely harmless to humans. Seven species of bronzebacks are recorded from Sri Lanka.
- Dendrelaphis wickrorum / Wickramasinghe’s Bronzeback
- Dendrelaphis bifrenalis / Boulenger’s Bronzeback
- Dendrelaphis schokari / Schokar’s Bronzeback
- Dendrelaphis caudolineatus / Strip-Tailed Bronzeback
- Dendrelaphis tristis / Common Bronzeback
- Dendrelaphis effrenis
- Dendrelaphis oliveri
Wickramasinghe’s Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis wickrorum)
Among Bronzeback found in Sri Lanka, Dendrelaphis sp. are found in both wet and dry regions. Researchers have recently discovered that there are two distinct morphologies of this species. Researchers have found that Dendrelaphis species know as Dendraphis bifrenalis are actually two species of Bronzebacks. Accordingly, the native population of the Wet Zone is described as Wickremasinghe’s Hal danda. Most of the Dendrelaphis are known in English as “Bronzeback / Bronzeback Tree Snake” due to their superficial bronze body.
The long slender body of this species is covered with smooth coral. The spinal column is larger than the lateral coral. The elongated head, which is clearly separated from the head, is flat. Like most snakes, like most Dendrelaphis species, Wickramasinghe’s Bronzeback has large eyes comparing to the head. A black line extending laterally from the inter-nasal cortex to the neck across the eye. Head dorsally light green or dull green. The head is flatter than the Khool’s hal danda and turu hal danda. The bottom of the coral is blue, running from the head to the core. This blue color is clearly seen when prey is swallowed and when the body blows in fear. A laterally white / cream colored line runs up to the sides of the body. This line of males is more clearly seen in the natal area. Body-color is mainly copper. Abdominally light green or greenish-yellow.
Bronzebacks are active in daylight and use their slim body to move rapidly. This species is very active during the day and is confined to the wet zone and can be found in dense forests and home gardens. Small birds, lizards, herons, and frogs are the main diet. It is a vigilant snake, and when frightened, it inflates the front of the body and exhibits itself as a large animal. In this way, the coral will turn blue, so that the coral will expand. They reproduce in a dark place, such as leave litter or a tree hole. At birth, the newborn is about 15cm in length and the adult is 90cm in length. Severe deforestation, road accidents and kill due fear by humans are some of the threats these species faced.
This species is named in honor of Mendis Wickremasinghe and his wife Nethu Wickremasinghe, a senior scientist couple who are dedicated to researching new species and endangered animals, especially reptiles and amphibians.
Boulenger’s Bronzeback/පඳුරු හාල්දණ්ඩා (Dendrelaphis bifrenalis) (Boulenger, 1890)
Striped-tailed Bronze-back (Dendrelaphis caudolineatus) (Gunther, 1869)
The German zoologist Albert Gunther introduced the species into the world in 1869. Later Wall named in 1921 as a Dendrophis caudolineatus and in 1943 the name was changed into Ahaetulla caudolineata by Smith. Then, Taylor changed it into Ahaetulla caudolineatus in 1950. This species is known as Striped-tailed Bronze-back or Grey Bronze-back (Wairee Haaldhanda). Their distribution spreads out all over South Asia and South-east Asia (According to recent studies there was a once record of D.caudolineatus in China also (Jiang et al. 2020)). In Sri Lanka, they are distributed through-out the wet and intermediate zones. The dorsal profile is olive-green and olive-orange in colour, there are black longitudinal stripes along the lateral side of the body. A diurnal and arboreal species. grows up about 700-900 cm. They have a relatively longer prehensile tail and it helps to their arboreal life pattern. Fast-moving species. They flat their anterior body when threaten. A carnivore and commonly feeds on frogs, agamids, and geckos. An oviparous species and 3-6 eggs are laid once. A non-venomous species but able to bite hard.
Schokar’s Bronzeback/ෂොකාර්ගේ හාල්දණ්ඩා (Dendrelaphis schokari) (KUHL, 1820
Schokar’s Bronzeback is also known as mukalan haldanda in Sinhala, which resembles a metaphorically equivalent of bronze backs. The two species are so similar that even some zoologists in the past thought they were animals of the same species. The German zoologist Heinrich Kuhl introduced the species into the world in 1820 as a Dipsas schokari and later named Boulanger in 1894 as a bronze back. Years later, in 2008, an experimental analysis using 64 artifacts revealed that they were a separate species and that Dipsas schokari was a re-validated species. The two can be easily distinguished by features such as the abdominal cortex, caudal abdominal cortex, eye diameter, hairline, and dorsal markings on the head. Schokar’s Bronzeback is endemic to Sri Lanka and is spread in the wet zone and intermediate zones as well as in the dry zone. It is our belief that the name “Danda” is derived from Helabas as it has a long thin cylindrical body. Most of the Dendrelaphis, which belong to the hal danda is known in English as “Bronzeback / Bronzeback Tree Snake” due to their superficial bronze body. Long slender body covered with smooth coral. The Vertebral scales is much larger than the lateral coral. The elongated head, which is clearly separated from the head, is flat. Like most snake-like snakes, bronze backs have large eyes relative to the head. A black line forms from the back of the eye to the tip of the head. The coriaceous (upper lip) corolla is white or yellow, and the border of the 3rd or 4th quadrilateral cortex has a thin black border. Body-colour dorsally brown or copper. Some animals have small streaks of black streaks from the neck to the west. The hair is brightly golden or yellow and extends a little farther. Tura Haldanda has a similar golden line, but it extends far beyond the center of the body and extends to the coronal line on either side of the Vertebral scales follicle.
Common Bronzeback/තුරු හාල්දණ්ඩා (Dendrelaphis tristis-Daudin, 1803)
The largest prevalence of bronze backs in the Dry Zone. It is our belief that the name “Danda” is derived from Helabas as it has a very long cylindrical body. Most of the Dendrelaphis, which belong to the hal danda, is known in English as “Bronzeback / Bronzeback Tree Snake” due to their superficial bronze body. Long slender body covered with smooth coral. The Vertebral scales are much larger than the lateral ones. The elongated head, which is clearly separated from the head, is flat. Like most snake-like snakes, has large eyes relative to the head. A black line forms from the back of the eye to the tip of the head. The adrenal (upper lip) coral is white or yellow and the border of the coral has a thin black border. Body colour dorsally brown or copper. A Black / dark brown line that runs bilaterally on the body partially separates the light yellow/white ventral coral. There are small lines of black streaks extending from the neck to the periphery of the body. For a long time, the hair follicles are golden and look like the middle body. The umbilical cord of the head is two yellow spots that are neutral. This mark can be used to distinguish it from the Cold climate, which is common in the bronze back in the wet zone. The abdomen is white or light yellow. This hue appears to be metaphorical, but the aforementioned bilateral line separates the surface shades.
This species is classified under the Least Concern (LC) category in the IUCN Red Data Report.
recently mentioned in the research article describe Wickramasinghe’s Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis wickrorum).fewer data available about the Sri Lankan distribution of Dendrelaphis effrenis.
Dendrelaphis oliveri (Taylor, 1950)
Applied name Ahaetulla oliveri Taylor, 1950