This baby snake just came inside my house in Sri Lanka, and I'm wondering whether it is venomous. Do you know this snake?

Snake Snake

I am posting this from my phone so I am unable to format properly. And I have small children in my house, therefore I am worried about their safety.

Size: < 30 cm (I think it was a baby snake).

Location: Sri Lanka (in southern Asia)

  • We live in an urban area without any rivers near by.
  • $\begingroup$ Could it be the rat snake? bio.davidson.edu/herpcons/herps_of_NC/snakes/Elaobs/… $\endgroup$
    – Isuru
    Dec 8, 2015 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ no it's not a rat snake. At least not the black rat snake you linked to. These are typically very black and live in the Eastern / Mid-Western portions of the United states $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2016 at 4:35
  • $\begingroup$ This is non venomous wolf snake. $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2017 at 8:23

3 Answers 3


I'm not an expert by any means, and anyone with proper training could probably provide a more informed opinion, but here's my thoughts. The patterning looks similar to Oligodon taeniolatus, an small, nonvenomous snake found throughout the region:
Oligodon taeniolatus

I'm not entirely sure about this identification, mostly because the pattern on the head looks a bit different. Sri Lanka has a large diversity of snakes and finding an definitive identification might be difficult without better images. There seems to be only a handful of snakes considered deadly, and this doesn't appear to be one of them. However, as I said, I'm not an expert, and even if it's not one of the 'deadly' ones, that doesn't mean it couldn't be dangerous to small children or pets. If you intend to capture and release the snake away from the house, I'd still recommend caution when handling it or contacting a professional.

  • $\begingroup$ The color seems similar but I don't think this is the snake, as the one in the picture doesn't have any patterns on it. I tried googling for golden/yellow snakes but couldn't come up with a closer match myself. $\endgroup$ Dec 8, 2015 at 1:55
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ The one in the question clearly has patterns on it $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Dec 8, 2015 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ The back dotted pattern looks similar, but I agree there doens't seem to be the same head design in the OP's picture. Possible juvenile or indication of sexual dimorphism in this species. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2016 at 4:38

Just to add another option:

My guess (though no more confident than @p.s.w.g's answer) is Balanophis ceylonensis (Sri Lankan Keelback) or related species.

The two features that stand out to me from your photo are

  1. the dotted markings on the back of the snake, and
  2. the dark line running behind the snake's eye.

You'll notice the keelback in this picture copied from Fernandoa et al. (2015) has an almost identical skin tone and line running behind the eye.

enter image description here

However, this image does not show the dots.

Though a mature snake is very different colored, you'll notice from this picture that the mature keelback has a very similar spotting design as the snake you've photographed.

enter image description here

IF this is the case, and this is in fact your species, then there is at least one source (Fernandoa et al. 2015) that suggests that the snake is venomous.


My answer's coming late but thought it's worth checking out the comment made by Anutapa bhattaharya that it was a wolf snake. I realise he only said it with no references or photos but still, since his name strongly suggests he's from Sri Lanka, I thought I'd see.

I believe he's correct and the snake in the photo is an Indian wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus), a common non-venomous snake that's encountered often enough in houses at night that it's earned the name 'house snake' in Sri Lanka.

I enhanced the first photo shown in Isuru's photo to better make out the markings and believe he's correct. Here are a few photos I found through Google of wolf snakes.

enter image description here Source

enter image description here Source

enter image description here Source

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ +1 Seems like a pretty close match to me, also. $\endgroup$
    – p.s.w.g
    Oct 6, 2017 at 17:51

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