Thai National Parks

Snakes of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Checkered keelback

In Thai: งูลายสอใหญ่, ngu lai sor yai

Binomial name: Fowlea piscator, Johann Gottlob Theaenus Schneider, 1799

The checkered keelback or Asiatic water snake (Xenochrophis piscator) is a common species of nonvenomous snake found in Asia.


This snake's eyes are rather small, and shorter than its distance from the nostril in the adult. Its rostral scale is visible from above. The internasal scales are much narrowed anteriorly and subtriangular, with the anterior angle truncated and as long as the prefrontal scales. The frontal scale is longer than its distance from the end of the snout, and as long as the parietals or a little shorter. The loreal is nearly as long as it is deep. There is one preocular and three (rarely four) post-oculars. Its temporals are 2+2 or 2+3. There are normally nine upper labials, with the fourth and fifth entering the eye and five lower labials in contact with the anterior chin-shields, which are shorter than the posterior. Scales are arranged in 19 rows, strongly keeled, with outer rows smooth. Ventrals are at 125–158, anal divided, with subcaudals at 64–90. Coloration is very variable, consisting of dark spots arranged quincuncially and often separated by a whitish network, or of black longitudinal bands on a pale ground, or of dark cross bands, with or without whitish spots. Two oblique black streaks, one below and the other behind the eye, are nearly constant, lower parts white, with or without black margins to the shields.

A rare case of autotomy is reported from Vietnam.


This snake is found in or near freshwater lakes or rivers. It feeds mainly on small fish and water frogs.


The species is found in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, West Malaysia, China (Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan, Guangxi, Yunnan), Taiwan, and Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Celebes = Sulawesi)

type locality: "East Indies"

Local names

  • Assamese – ঢোঁৰা সাপ
  • Bengali - ঢোঁড়া সাপ
  • Odia - ଧଣ୍ଡ ସାପ
  • Gujarati – dendu saap
  • Hindi – Dendu saap
  • Indonesia - Bandotan tutul
  • Kannada - ನೀರು ಹಾವು
  • Marathi - दिवड
  • Malayalam - നീർക്കോലി
  • Tamil - கண்டங்கண்டை நீர்க்கோலி (Kandangkandai Neerkoli)
  • Telugu - నీరు కట్టు(neeru kattu)

Other references

  • Dutt, Kalma 1970 Chromosome Variation in Two Populations of Xenochrophis piscator Schn. from North and South India (Serpentes, Colubridae). Cytologia 35: pp. 455–464
  • Schneider, J. G., 1799 Historiae Amphibiorum narturalis et literariae. Fasciculus primus, continens Ranas. Calamitas, Bufones, Salamandras et Hydros. Jena, 266 S.

This article uses material from Wikipedia released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike Licence 3.0. Eventual photos shown in this page may or may not be from Wikipedia, please see the license details for photos in photo by-lines.

Scientific classification

Fowlea piscator

Common names

  • German:
    • Gewöhnliche Fischnatter
    • Fischernatter
  • English:
    • Asiatic water snakes
    • Checkered keelback
  • Thai:
    • งูลายสอใหญ่, ngu lai sor yai
    • งูสา, ngu saa


  • Xenochrophis piscator melanzostus, Johann Ludwig Christian Gravenhorst, 1807

    Range: Indonesia (Borneo Java, Sulawesi?, Sumatra), India (Andaman and Nicobar Islands).

  • Xenochrophis piscator piscator, Johann Gottlob Theaenus Schneider, 1799

    Range: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, People's Republic of China (including Hainan), Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.


  • Fowlea piscator, Jayaditya Purkayastha et al. (2019)
  • Natrix piscator, Ramesh Singh et al. (2016)
  • Xenochorpis piscator, Fellows (in error) (2015)
  • Xenochrophis piscator, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2014)
  • Xenochrophis piscator, T.S.N. Murthy (2010)
  • Xenochrophis piscator, Tanya Chan-Ard et al. (1999)
  • Xenochrophis piscator, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Xenochrophis piscator, E. V. Malnate & Sherman Anthony Minton (1965)
  • Natrix piscator, Michael Wilmer Forbes Tweedie (1954)
  • Natrix piscator, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1943)
  • Nerodia (Tropidonotus) piscator, Frank Wall (1921)
  • Tropidonotus piscator, Frank Wall (1908)
  • Tropidonotus piscator punctatus, Frank Wall (1907)
  • Tropidonotus piscator lateralis, Frank Wall (1907)
  • Natrix piscator, Leonhard Hess Stejneger (1907)
  • Tropidonotus piscator, George Albert Boulenger (1893)
  • Tropidonotus quincunciatus, John Anderson (1871)
  • Tropidonotus quincunciatus, William Theobald (1868)
  • Amphiesma flavipunctatum, Edward Hallowell (1861)
  • Tropidonotus quincunciatus, Albert Charles Lewis Günther (1859)
  • Tropidonotus quincunciatus, André Marie Constant Duméril, Gabriel Bibron & Auguste Duméril (1854)
  • Coluber sinuatus, Hermann Schlegel (1837)
  • Coluber funebris, Hermann Schlegel (1837)
  • Col. quincunciatus, Hermann Schlegel (1837)
  • Tropidonotus quincunciatus, Hermann Schlegel (1837)
  • Coluber bengalensis, John Edward Gray (1835)
  • Coluber rectangulus, John Edward Gray (1834)
  • Coluber bengalensis, John Edward Gray (1834)
  • Natrix piscator, Blasius Merrem (1820)
  • Coluber dora, François Marie Daudin (1803)
  • Coluber mortuarius, François Marie Daudin (1803)
  • Coluber braminus, François Marie Daudin (1803)
  • Coluber umbratus, François Marie Daudin (1803)
  • Coluber anostomosatus, François Marie Daudin (1803)
  • Hydrus palustris, Johann Gottlob Theaenus Schneider (1799)
  • Hydrus piscator, Johann Gottlob Theaenus Schneider (1799)

Conservation status

Not Evaluated

Not Evaluated


Fowlea piscator
Fowlea piscator
Xenochrophis piscator (head)
Xenochrophis piscator
Xenochrophis piscator (ready to shed)
Xenochrophis piscator

Range Map

Distribution map of Checkered keelback, Fowlea piscator in Thailand
Range map of Fowlea piscator in Thailand