Snake at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
July 2, 2000
I spotted this snake near the wide trail leading to the waterfalls at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. I got just this one hand-held picture before it vanished into the forest. I was confident I would be able to identify it from Robert Drewes' Herps of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest site. Imagine my surprise when it turned out not to look like any of the snakes listed there. Drewes' site includes photos for all of the snakes recorded there other than two solid-green Philothamnus species. The only snake pictured that has bands around its neck and body is the Forest Vine Snake, Thelotornis kirtlandi, but that snake is much more slender, has a long pointy head, and is colored very differently. Perhaps the bands on my snake are a mark of juveniles that fade with age?

If I discount the bands as an age-related marking, and assume that this is not some species Drewes did not discover at Bwindi, then I can start narrowing down the choices. Obviously this is not a viper (head shape), cobra (color, proportions), or blind snake (size, habits, general appearance). I already ruled out the Forest Vine Snake. Many of the other species listed are also clearly the wrong color and/or shape. My current best guess, without any real evidence, is that it's a juvenile of one of the three green Philothamnus species. It was a smallish but not tiny snake, probably around two feet long. Drewes lists Philothamnus heterodermus as reaching 922mm (~3 feet) total length, so that's in the right ballpark.

Please send me mail if you have any further information, reference suggestions, or wild guesses that might help me identify this snake.

7/7/00 -- Dr. Drewes looked at this photo and confirmed that it didn't look like any of the snakes he collected at Bwindi. His best guess it that it's a juvenile Dipsadoboa unicolor, which is reported in Pitman's classic Snakes of Uganda to sometimes have crossbands. Unless I get further input on this (which seems highly unlikely), I'll go with this hypothesis.

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