Rhabdophis subminiatus, Red-necked keelback - Kaeng Krachan National Park
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9 Interesting Facts About Red-Necked Keelback

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The Red-necked Keelback (Tropidonophis rufescens) is a nonvenomous snake species found primarily in Southeast Asia. These fascinating creatures are also known as “Flying Snakes” due to their unique ability to glide through the air for short distances. Here are nine interesting facts about this extraordinary reptile:

  1. Chameleon-like Appearance: The Red-necked Keelback has an amazing ability to change its skin color from black to red or brown in response to temperature changes, making it a chameleon among snakes! This adaptation helps them regulate their body heat and evade predators.

  2. Hunting Skills: These skilled hunters are ambush predators, waiting patiently for their prey to come within striking distance. Their diet mainly consists of small mammals, birds, frogs, and fish, making them quite versatile eaters.

  3. Gliding Snakes: Red-necked Keelbacks can glide through the air from trees or shrubs up to 10 meters (about 33 feet). To do this, they arch their bodies into an S-shape and use their ribs as a flapping mechanism, propelling themselves forward. This incredible ability helps them escape predators or reach new hunting grounds quickly.

  4. Toxic Prey: Despite being nonvenomous, Red-necked Keelbacks have been known to eat venomous snakes such as kraits and cobras. They can withstand the venom without any adverse effects because they possess a unique enzyme that neutralizes the toxins.

  5. Sex Determination: In this species, the sex of the offspring is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated. Warmer temperatures result in females, while cooler conditions produce males. This intriguing phenomenon is known as temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD).

  6. Breeding Behaviors: Mating season for Red-necked Keelbacks occurs during the rainy season when snakes become more active and food is abundant. After mating, females lay eggs in burrows or hollow logs, and both parents participate in guarding the nest from predators until the young hatch.

  7. Venom Resistance: While Red-necked Keelbacks themselves are nonvenomous, they possess a natural resistance to venom. This trait is particularly beneficial when hunting venomous prey or protecting themselves against other predators that may try to kill and eat them.

  8. Ecological Role: These snake species play an essential role in controlling populations of rodents, lizards, and insects, thus helping maintain a balanced ecosystem. Their presence also indicates healthy forests as they prefer living near water sources surrounded by dense vegetation.

  9. Threatened Species: Sadly, the Red-necked Keelback faces threats from habitat destruction, overcollection for traditional medicine practices, and climate change. These factors have led to a decline in their population numbers, making them a species of concern.

In conclusion, the Red-necked Keelback is an extraordinary snake with unique abilities such as gliding through the air, changing skin color, and resisting venom. However, these fascinating creatures are facing numerous challenges that threaten their survival. It’s crucial to raise awareness about this species and take steps towards preserving its habitats to ensure its continued existence in the future.


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