Map of Nusakambangan, showing the location of the prisons
|Possible Population||Small to medium|
Ular Pendek is a mysterious ophidian creature from Indonesia. The name means “short snake”. It is reported from the island of Nusakambangan.
Ular Pendek is described as a snake with short length and wide body. The length is reported to be around 1 meter, with about 20 cm girth (give or take). The 1:5 ratio of body girth and length is abnormal for common snakes. Some people of Nusakambangan thought the creature is mythical and/or mystical in origin.
It is reported that an anonymous man had an encounter with the creature. The man was resting after working all day long. He sat on a coconut tree log, but then realized that the log was “pulsating”. He then direct his flashlight to it, and to his surprise, the log has scales on it. The anonymous man then fled the area.
In 2008, a villager named Saripudin Hidayat is patrolling the island of Nusakambangan. One of his colleague caught the creature and put it in a barrel with a lid. He described it as having brown or blackish color, with body shape like that of a python. He estimates the body to be about 1 meter in length and 20 cm wide. Later in the evening, the snake was found to have escaped. The villager simply called it “ular derik” or rattlesnake.
Nusakambangan island is very isolated. At 12000 ha, it only has about 3000 residents, making it sparsely populated. Nusakambangan also dubbed “The Indonesian Alcatraz”, because the island is home of the country’s most guarded prisons. To escape from the prisons might meant death penalty. This is because the island is mostly virgin jungle with wild animals. Authorities kept the island as natural reserve.
Electricity in the island is very scarce. Generator has to be turned on when night falls. Village residents usually stay in their home when night. If someone wanted to go out, minimally he/she must carry a Golok (traditional machete) as a form of self defense.
According to the locals, every year tens of sacks filled with various kind of snake is released to the island. This is to prevent the prisoner to escaping out the island alive.
- According to the description, ular pendek may be akin to Japanese Tsuchinoko. The shape of the ular pendek is like that of a python, whereas the Tsuchinoko is reported to be venomous with fangs like that of a viper.
- The name “ular derik” means “rattlesnake”, contrast to its python like shape. This is however may link its similarities to Japanese Tsuchinoko.
- Another explanation is it’s actually a fed snake, with its prey making it looks bigger in width. If this was the case, the probability of the snake escaping from the barrel is slim, if not impossible.