A species of the genus Lonchura, it was formally described and named by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Its name is based on the distinct scale-like feather markings on the breast and belly. The adult is brown above and has a dark conical bill. The species has 11 subspecies across their range and differ slightly in size and colour.
The scaly-breasted munia was one of the many bird species originally describedby Carl Linnaeus in the 1758 10th edition of his Systema Naturae, where it was given the binomial name of Loxia punctulata. Sykes assigned it to the genus Lonchura in the combination Lonchura punctulata in 1823.
This species sometimes spotted with the other munia and quite hard to find around Labuan Island in some season.