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Ular Pendek
Ular pendek2
Nusakambangan map from AMS in UTexas Library
Map of Nusakambangan, showing the location of the prisons
Type Reptile
First Sighting Unknown
Last Sighting 2008
Country Indonesia
Habitat Jungle
Possible Population Small to medium

The Ular Pendek is a mysterious ophidian creature from Indonesia. The name means “short snake”. It is reported from the island of Nusakambangan.


The 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 think 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 was patrolling the island of Nusakambangan. One of his colleagues caught the creature and put it in a barrel with a lid. He described it as having a brown or blackish color, with a 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.

The Island[]

Nusakambangan island is very isolated. At 12000 ha, it only has about 3000 residents, making it sparsely populated. Nusakambangan is also dubbed “The Indonesian Alcatraz”, because the island is home to the country’s most guarded prisons. To escape from the prisons might mean the death penalty. This is because the island is mostly virgin jungle with wild animals. The authorities kept the island as a natural reserve.

Electricity on the island is very scarce. A generator has to be turned on when night falls. Village residents usually stay in their homes at night. If someone wants 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 kinds of snakes are released on the island. This is to prevent the prisoners escaping from the island alive.


  • According to the description, the Ular Pendek may be akin to the 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 those of a viper.
  • The name “ular derik” means “rattlesnake”, in contrast to its python like shape. This, however, may come from its similarities to the Japanese Tsuchinoko.
  • Another explanation is that it’s actually a snake that has recently eaten, with its prey making it look bigger in width. If this was the case, the probability of the snake escaping from the barrel is slim, if not impossible.


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