Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)

Aplopeltura boa: the Blunthead Slug Snake

While in Malaysia in June 2014, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours in a forest one night, looking mainly for herpetofauna along with a friend, who sighted four snakes, among several other creatures. One exciting find was this Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828), a rather docile and easy to handle species commonly known as the Blunthead Slug Snake.

Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)
Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)

I would have liked to get a few photographs of this beautiful snake during the day, under natural light, but I had to use flash since it had been sighted at night. Nevertheless, it was a good chance for me to test a new diffuser that I’d made. While I am pleased with the resulting diffusion, I have in mind a few tweaks that I’d like to make to the design.

Identifying the snake was easy: my friend had already encountered this species before (he spotted two of these beautiful snakes that night), and the genus is unambiguous, with only one member to speak of.

Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)
Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)

In my friend’s opinion, this is the cutest snake species. I can’t say I disagree,  although I know many others who would. In any case, I personally find this a very interesting species because of its diet; I’d known that snakes ate frogs, toads, reptiles, and birds, but slugs? The thought had never even occurred to me.

Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)
Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)

The Blunthead Slug Snake is arboreal, nocturnal, and nonvenomous. As the name suggests, it feeds on slugs and snails. An interesting feature of this species is that while most snail shells are dextrally coiled (right-handed), Aplopeltura boa has a specialised hook-like jaw and a greater number of needle-like teeth on its right mandible, making it well suited to efficiently  extract snails from their dextral shells. However, some snails have sinistral shells, and Masaki Hoso, in a study along with his peers offered snails of both varieties to slug-eating snakes. In doing so, they made a very interesting discovery: only 23% of the sinistrally coiled (left-handed) snails fed to Aplopeltura boa were successfully preyed upon. The rest survived owing to the fact that their shells were sinistrally coiled, and that Aplopeltura boa’s hook-like jaw and its mandibular  asymmetry is specialised to extract prey from dextral shells rather than sinistral.

I was thrilled to have seen and photographed this snake. I probably would’ve made the trip to Malaysia even if it were only to photograph this single species. It would be

Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)
Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)



  1. Grismer, L., Diesmos, A.C., Gonzalez, J.C., Jose, R. & Inger, R.F. (2012). Aplopeltura boa. In: IUCN 2013.
  2. Hoso, M., Asami, T. and Hori, M. (2007). Right-handed snakes: convergent evolution of asymmetry for functional specialisation. Biology Letters, 2007, no. 3, pp.169-172.
  3. Stuebing, R. and Inger, R. (1999). A Field Guide to the Snakes of Borneo, Natural History Publications (Borneo), Malaysia.

Like Bald Guy With a Camera’s photography? See more of his work here.


4 thoughts on “Aplopeltura boa: the Blunthead Slug Snake

  1. It looks very interesting! May be the cutest, but vipers are my favorites! They are so beautiful! This summer, I found Telescopus fallax fallax and it was the first snake I’ve ever handled, and although it wasn’t a viper, it was the prettiest croatian snake! It was a beauty! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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