We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Pipe Snake?

By Christian Petersen
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
AllThingsNature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AllThingsNature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A pipe snake is one of several species of snakes belonging to three different genera, and found in several regions of the world including South America, Asia, Indonesia, the southern portions of the Indian sub-continent and the island nation of Sri Lanka. The different genera of snakes known as pipe snakes vary considerably from one to another, but all are non-venomous.

In South America, the family Aniliidae, which contains only one genus and the species Anilius scytale, is known as the South American pipe snake or false coral snake. This snake is considered a primitive species. It lays eggs, which hatch within the body of the mother, and feeds mostly on insects, small snakes, reptiles and amphibians. It is terrestrial and sometimes burrows looking for prey. It has a black body, which is approximately 27 inches (70 cm) long, is banded with bright red rings, and is fairly uniform in thickness with a very short tail.

The pipe snakes of Asia and Indonesia belong to the family Cylindrophidae. Approximately eight species of Asian pipe snakes are known, all belonging to theasingle genus within the family Cylindrophis. All share a checkered or mottled black and white belly with backs banded in black with yellow or red rings and a burrowing habit both for shelter and in hunting. They usually have short, stubby tails which may be somewhat flattened. All Asian pipe snakes are non-venomous and are found in southeast Asia and Indonesia.

The family Uropeltidae is the largest family of pipe snakes. This family contains eight genera, consisting of approximately 47 species of pipe snakes. These burrowing snakes, which average between 8 and 27 inches (20 and 70 cm) are found in southern India and Sri Lanka, especially in the Western Ghats hills region. They are all non-venomous, considered to be somewhat primitive in design compared to other snake species, and are characterized by flattened tails that often exhibit a hardened covering of modified scales. For this reason, these snakes are sometimes called shield-tailed snakes.

Asian pipe snakes vary in their range and distribution. Some species are found over wide areas of southeast Asia, like the red-tailed pipe snake which is found all over the region. Some species have very limited habitats. Cylindrophis aruensis, the Aru cylinder snake, is found only on the Aru Islands in Indonesia. Cylindrophis opisthorhodus, the island pipe snake, is found only on Komodo, home of the Komodo dragons and surrounding islands.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pipe snake and where can it be found?

A pipe snake is a non-venomous burrowing serpent, part of the Cylindrophiidae family, known for its smooth, cylindrical body. These elusive creatures are predominantly found in Southeast Asia, thriving in tropical forests where they can burrow into soft soils or leaf litter. Their secretive nature makes them a rare sight, even within their native habitats.

How does a pipe snake differ from other snakes in appearance?

Pipe snakes are distinct in their appearance, featuring a uniform diameter throughout their body, resembling a pipe or hose. They lack a discernible neck and have a short tail, which contributes to their unique cylindrical shape. Their small eyes are another characteristic that sets them apart, as they are adapted for a life spent mostly underground.

What do pipe snakes eat and how do they hunt?

Pipe snakes primarily feed on burrowing insects and their larvae, as well as other small invertebrates. They are adapted to a subterranean lifestyle, which allows them to detect and capture prey through vibrations and chemical cues in the soil. Their hunting strategy relies on stealth and ambush rather than speed or venom.

Are pipe snakes dangerous to humans?

Pipe snakes pose no danger to humans as they are non-venomous and generally shy creatures. They have small, hidden mouths and are not aggressive, preferring to avoid confrontation. Encounters with humans are rare due to their secretive nature and preference for undisturbed forested areas.

How do pipe snakes reproduce?

Pipe snakes reproduce by laying eggs, a trait shared with many other snake species. Female pipe snakes will deposit a clutch of eggs in a secure, hidden location within their burrowing range. The eggs are left to incubate, and the young are independent from birth, receiving no parental care after hatching.

What conservation status do pipe snakes have?

The conservation status of pipe snakes varies among species, but habitat loss due to deforestation and human encroachment is a common threat. Some species may be classified as of Least Concern, while others have not been assessed thoroughly enough to determine their status. Conservation efforts are essential to protect their habitats and ensure their survival.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AllThingsNature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.