The dragon snake, Xenodermus javanicus is not unlike any other snakes you have ever seen. It is rare and possibly one of the most beautiful snakes in the world. An interesting nonvenomous snake that it is the only snake in its genus. The snake is also known as the Dragon Snake, Javan Tubercle Snake, Javan Mudsnake, or Rough-backed Litter Snake.
The species’ scientific name derives from the Greek words “Xeno” meaning strange and “derma” meaning skin, referring to their very strange looking skin, at least for a snake.
These strange-looking non-venomous snake species can be found in Southeast Asia. The species is found in several countries including Indonesia, Myanmar, Brunei, Malaysia, and Thailand. Their range extends from extreme southern Myanmar south to Sumatra, Java, and Borneo.
Xenodermus javanicus has a distinct head and long tail. The body is slender and compressed. The dragon snake most notable feature is its unusual skin, with 3 rows of enlarged, keeled scales running down its back, they look like a cross between a snake and a crocodile.
That is the reason they are called dragon snakes because of their similarity with the mythical creature Dragon. The rows of keeled scales, that run the dorsal length of the snake, resemble the ridges on a dragon’s back. But unlike mythology and sci-fiction this snake is real and yes, it looks like a dragon.
Besides its strange looks, it is also known for its “stiff behavior” in which the snake will stiffen up, almost like a board, in any position when touched or picked up. Another interesting feature about this snake is its skin. Rather than being smooth as most snakes are, the dragon snake has three rows of large, keeled scales that run down the center of its back.
The dragon snake is a nocturnal snake species and it mainly eats frogs, tadpoles, and fish. The appearance of the dragon snake is the main reason why this snake is so popular with dedicated reptile collectors. These snakes usually don’t thrive in captivity. So caring and petting a dragon snake should be left to only the most experienced reptile caretakers.
The average size of a dragon snake is around 24 to 30 inches in length. This isn’t too large, which makes their size a secondary concern when it comes to keeping them in captivity. Small animals like cats, dogs, and birds can easily be a threat to them.