Thermophis baileyi, also known as "Bailey's snake" or the "Hot-spring keel-back"[1], is a rare snake found only at high altitudes in the mountains of Tibet near two hot springs.[2][3][4] Bailey's snake is on the endangered species list.[5][6][7]

The existence of Bailey's snake was first announced in the scientific literature in 1907 by Frank Wall.[2][8] It was classified in 1907 as Tropodinotus (=Natrix) baileyi by Wall (1907) before it was realized that Bailey's snake did not fit in the genus Natrix.[3] There are several species of Bailey's snake. Some are burrowing varieties. Although most species of Bailey's snake are nonpoisonous, there are some that have fangs and toxic saliva.

All species found appear to live within about 1 km of a hot spring known as Chutsen Chugang Hot Springs, on the grounds of the Zhoto Terdrom / Tidro Nunnery in Maldrogongkar / Mozhugongka County, near Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region at an altitude of 4350 m. There also has been a report of Bailey's snakes near the Yangpachen/Yangbajain Hot Springs, at about the same altitude in Maldrogongkar County, Tibet Autonomous Region.

This genus of snakes might be the highest altitude snakes in the world, and probably hold the altitude record for snakes in China.


  1. "Hot-spring keel-back" is the translation of the Chinese name.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wall, Frank. Some new Asian snakes [J]. Jour. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., 1907, 17 (3): 612-618
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Taxonomic Status of the Tibetan Colubrid Snake Natrix baileyi, Edmond V. Malnate, Copeia, Vol. 1953, No. 2 (May 29, 1953), pp. 92-96 doi:10.2307/1440132
  4. Zhao E M. Thermophis baileyi [ M]. In: E M Zhao, et al. Fauna Sinica, Reptilia, vol. 3, Serpentes. Science Press, Beijing, 1998: 318-320.
  5. Groombridge, B. (ed.) 1994. 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
  6. IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1988. 1988 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals.
  7. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. IUCN. 1990. 1990 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  8. Discovery of Thermophis baileyi(Wall,1907), A Snake Endemic to Xizang AR, from Litang County, Sichuan, China, 刘少英  赵尔宓 , SICHUAN JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY 2004 Vol.23 No.3 P.234-235

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