Description: This is a thin snake less than the thickness of a finger. It has a yellow mask and comes in one of two color pattern variations. Shown here is the pattern with a brown background and longitudinal stripes running from neck to tail. There is one along the vertebral ridge and one on each side. The eyes of this snake are rather large compared to the very small head. The head is slightly smaller than the neck of the snake. There are two very small rear-fangs seen upon inspection of the mouth. The head of this snake is not elongated in a long triangle like the Lycodon family of snakes – which is one way to tell the difference.
Range: Thailand’s southern provinces. This snake was found in Krabi province at 450 meters elevation at 2200 hours two meters high on a thick tree covered with moss (see photo below).
Habitat: Bushes, trees, and dwellings. This snake is not as common as the Laotian Wolf Snake, but likes the same kind of habitat. It searches trees and structures for geckos primarily. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush.
Active Time? Usually nocturnal.
Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily.
Defensive Behavior: I have yet to see this snake strike, even after handling a half-dozen of them. Usually they are very calm.
Venom Toxicity: Weak or none. Ineffective for humans if there is any venom. The fangs are quite small – less than the diameter of a regular stick pin.
Offspring: Nothing known about this area.
Notes: These are great snakes for first time snake hobbyists to handle for a short time in the wild. If they are striking initially, they quickly calm down when held for a short time. There is a very real danger of mistaking these harmless snakes with a Malayan, Many Banded, or Banded krait – all of which are deadly. Kraits can get bigger than 1 meter. This snake, and the other harmless black and white banded snakes – will not get over 70 cm generally.
It is May and the snakes are hatching all over the country. Where I live here in Southern Thailand we have some of the best herping in the country, and the world. I have to be reminded of that occasionally because I start to take it for granted sometimes.
I’ve been seeing hatchling and very juvenile C. rhodostoma and C. radiata on the roads fairly often. Those are the two I usually see as the snake herping season begins in Thailand. I’ve seen my usual share of rat snakes – P. korros primarily, and everywhere, and just one big P. carinatus at the top of a small mountain on top of a pile of fallen branches.
Frogs are out in full-force already. We’ve had one really good rain since the rainy season began back on Thai New Years (early May), and a number of smaller, spotty rains. They all help to get the frogs reproducing.
The hills are alive with the sound of Calotes emma scampering around the mostly dry leaves in the rainforest. I have definitely seen more this year than any year previously at this time. I’m taking that as a good sign. Flying lizards too. They seem to be everywhere I look, as abundant as house geckos on the outside of our home at night.
I spied one big tokay at head level and about one foot from my face stuck to a wall at the top of a Buddhist temple shrine on a mountain. It was kind enough to stick around while I studied its fascinating pattern. If you’ve never really looked intently at it – it’s mesmerizing!
This year I’ve decided to really expand my focus to include other wildlife that I didn’t pay much attention to – Tokays and other geckos, flying lizards – Draco, frogs, centipedes, scorpions, tarantulas, and bugs – insects of all kinds. Really opening it up, right? I guess I I get a bit bored mid- and late-season while just focusing on snakes. I tend to catch the same species’ over and over and it does get monotonous at times. If I had some more fauna to focus on, I’d be less bored. So this will be a new beginning for me.
So, needless to state it, but I’m wildly optimistic about this 2015 Reptile and Amphibian Herping Season. I’ve got a couple of field trips planned now. Sisaket in the Northeast of Thailand is my next stop. I even have to make a trip out to Laos, so I’ll take a look around while I’m out there and see if anything jumps out at me.
So, if you’re in Ubon, Sisaket, Savannakhet, or Mukdahan and know where the snakes are – let me know!
These snakes resemble black worms in Thailand. They have a lot of energy when you pick one up. You will likely find them in soil in your potted plants or climbing up through your drain in your restroom.
Brahminy Blind Snakes are completely harmless.
Ramphotyphlops braminus (Brahminy Blind Snake)
Thai: (ngoo din ban)
Length: Up to about 6 inches (15cm)
Range: All over Thailand and much of the world, native to Southeast Asia. Transported across the world in potted plants.
Notes: These are ground dwelling and burrowing snakes. They are shy. They are easily eaten by many other predators like birds, monitors, and other snakes. The Red Tailed Pipe snake eats these snakes often. The blind snakes have very small eyes covered with a thin skin that protects them as they burrow through the dirt.
Active Time? Anytime.
Food: Ant and termite eggs primarily.
Defensive Behavior: Trying to get away. The mouth is too small to inflict a bite on humans.
Venom Toxicity: No venom or means to inject it.
Offspring: An interesting twist here. Brahminy Blind snakes are all born female and need no males to continue the species. They are parthenogenetic. When they reach sexual maturity they lay fertile eggs – and hence, are fully self-perpetuating the species. If there is one – soon there will be more! These snakes have populated much of the western world and can be found in Hawaii, Louisianna, Boston, and other places in the USA now.
My Brahminy Blind Snake Videos:
Species: R. braminus
I was running up my favorite trail – a small mountain in Tub Kaak, Krabi province, when I saw my right foot coming down right in front of a Malayan pit viper. It was scary to know there was nothing I could do about it – I screamed out and pulled my foot away as fast as possible after landing, but with all my weight on it for a second, it wasn’t all that fast. The snake could have bitten me if it chose to.
But, luck was on my side and I’m walking around on both feet this morning. Lucky me! Watch this video so you can see just how important it is to watch where every footstep goes while hiking or running in the Thailand rainforest. These snakes and vipers in general are active at night and are also crepuscular, which means in the early morning and early evening. I have also seen them active during the daytime during and after a heavy rain.
If you have some time between when your ride leaves (like waiting for ambulance):
2. Clean wound with water. Be gentle, don’t scrub harshly especially if the wound burns intensely. If you know the snake that bit you was a viper – do not touch the wound site, just rinse with water.
3. This next part (#3a) is if you know what kind of snake it is. Go straight to #3b if you don’t know positively which snake bit you.
3a. If the snake that bit you is a pit viper – any green viper, or the brown Malayan pit viper or Russel’s Viper (Chain Viper), just rinse the area with water. Don’t touch it, just let it bleed out some if you can. If great amounts of blood – apply a light pressure to stop the bleeding, of course. Ideally you don’t want to wrap a viper bite with a compression bandage, it can cause more damage.
3b. If you do NOT KNOW what type of snake it was that bit you, Immediately apply a pressure bandage or wrap a piece of clean dry cloth around the bite site as well as above and below the bite by a few inches. This is essential for krait, coral, and cobra bites. Elastic wraps that you use for ankle sprains work well. Wrap it snugly, but you should still be able to put a finger under the bandage.
4. Stay as still as possible. Tell someone or write down what you can remember about the snake – color? thickness? pattern? Was it in a tree? On ground? Identifying the snake is very important so you get the right antivenin, if one is needed.
5. Antivenin is given after you start to have symptoms, not before. Some bites are “dry bites” and inject no venom.
Caution… anti-venin (also called anti-venom) OFTEN causes severe allergic reaction. This allergic reaction can be deadly in some cases. Get good advice on the necessity of anti-venin before it is administered. The doctors should do a test to see if you’re allergic to it first before full-scale administration of anti-venin. Insist on it.
Suck the poison out or use any devices to suck out the venom, it can cause more damage to tissue if it is a viper bite.
Use a tourniquet
Use ice over the wound
Drink alcohol, food, or use aspirin – Paracetamol is OK for pain, better if you take nothing before going to the hospital.
Use herbal remedies
Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, Thai Red Cross Society,
Bangkok, Thailand (662) 252-0161-4; firstname.lastname@example.org
Some information was collected from various what we think are legitimate sources of emergency information regarding snake bite.
If you want to dispute these steps – please send email to: email@example.com.
Once you identify the snake that bit you – here is some more information by snake name – scientific classification:
There are a number of contacts you can call in Thailand if you need to have a snake removed from your home, yard, vehicle, whatever it is. The first call would probably go to the snake park guys in your area. They are happy to come and get whatever type of snake you have. Reasons are many, but primarily because the king cobras, monocled cobras, and kraits they keep for the shows eat a snake once a week. They are snake eaters and eat a lot.
Here are some phone numbers you can call for Thailand snake removal:
Bangkok, call Mr. Sompop Sridaranop at 089-0438455.
Chiang Mai’s Mae Sai Valley Snake Farm is about 15 km north of Chiang Mai. If they don’t want to come all that way to your home, they will know who to call instead: 053-860719
Phuket Kathu, Thalang, call the Wisarut Jaiton Kusoldharm Rescue Foundation: 076-246301 or 076-246599.
Note: About 50% of all bites from this krait results in human death – even with the administration of anti-venin (antivenom). Death is the usual result if no treatment is given. The closely related Bungarus multicinctus is ranked 3rd in the world for toxicity of venom (terrestrial snakes). Do be careful.
Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait or Blue Krait)
Thais say: Ngoo tap saming kla, or ngoo kan plong
Length: Max length about 1.6 meters in Thailand.
Range: All over Thailand and much of southeast Asia.
Notes: I’ve seen these dead on the side of the road near rubber plantations. Their head is not nearly as large as the yellow / black banded krait. The body doesn’t have the high vertebral ridge like Bungarus fasciatus. Be careful around these snakes.
Habitat: These snakes appear to favor flat country. Not found higher than 1,200 m vertically often. Prefer proximity to water. Likes rice fields and rice dams. Invades rat holes and use as a nest.
Active Time? The snake is mainly active at night and is not fond of the sunshine. They are shy and attempt to cover their head with their tail. They are active most consistently between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. At least that is when I tend to find them.
Food: Other snakes – primarily, but also lizards, mice, frogs and other small animals.
Defensive Behavior: Not usually very aggressive. Shy. They don’t tend to bite unless really provoked. Still, you should never hold one. I have only seen one in a dozen of these snakes attempt to bite, and it was the result of being grabbed with tongs near the head.
Venom Toxicity: Very toxic – even more so than the Naja kaouthia (cobras). Bungarus krait venom is neurotoxic and attacks the human nervous system, shutting it down. Coma, brain death, and suffocation due to paralysis of the muscles necessary for crucial functions like the diaphragm, and or heart, are frequent causes of death. Death results usually 12-24 hours after a bite that is not treated. Little or no pain is usually felt at the bite location. The black/white kraits in Thailand are more toxic to humans than are the yellow / black kraits. That said, the yellow-black kraits (Bungarus fasciatus) can still kill you easily.
Here’s a short overview of what happened to one victim of a bite by Bungarus candidus (black-white striped krait):
A patient bitten by Bungarus candidus (Malayan krait) developed nausea, vomiting, weakness, and myalgia 30 minutes after being bitten. One hour later, ptosis and occulomotor palsies as well as tightness of his chest were noted. Respiratory failure requiring mechanical respiration appeared 8 hours after the bite and lasted for nearly 96 hours. The two bite sites were virtually painless and resulted in slight transient erythema and edema. No specific antivenin was available, and treatment consisted of respiratory support and management of aspiration pneumonitis. Recovery was complete. (Department of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University Hospital and the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute of the Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok, Thailand)
Handling: The banded and Malayan blue kraits are not known to bite during the daytime. That doesn’t mean they don’t, it just means they don’t do it commonly. At night these snakes bite rather easily, as evidenced by the numerous bites that occur at night to people usually laying down to sleep on the floor. Handholding the kraits for any reason seems rather absurd to me, yet snake-handlers across the globe do it regularly. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small.
Anti-venin / Antivenom: There is a specific krait antivenin that is given for krait bites. If you don’t have access to that antivenin you can ask the hospital if they have Tiger Snake antivenin – which can be used as a substitute for krait antivenin and works well.
Offspring: Lays 4-10 eggs. Juveniles are 30 cm long at birth. Hatching occurs in June-July in Thailand.
One of the top 10 most toxic terrestrial venomous snakes in the world resides in Thailand, and it is second behind the Bungarus multicinctus in strength of venom, according to LD50 charts for subcutaneous venom injection (in mice), is the Malayan Krait, also called the Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus).
I’ve been looking for one of these snakes in the wild for a couple of years. I don’t herp at night all that much so it was really unlikely that I saw one for a bit of time – but I was due to see this one.
Update 2015 – I’ve seen around one dozen of these snakes. They seem to be active most from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. cruising the ground along sidewalks or rocks. They are not big biters, and I’ve only seen one bite the tongs as I picked it up. These are relatively common snakes in Krabi province.
Here’s the story I put on Youtube about how it came to be that I caught this beautiful krait…
This is the mack daddy of all snakes in Thailand, for me. I’ve seen king cobras in the wild. I’ve caught monocled cobras and maybe 30 other kinds of snake. Last night I hit the jackpot by catching the lovely Malayan Krait – the black / white banded snake you see in the video.
I was herping with a guy from the UK, Michael. He found a red-necked keelback about 30 minutes before. We were herping HARD all over this great wildlife area and I was fully prepared to find nothing more. It was hard herping.
I stopped on the sidewalk for a second and was shining my flashlight (9pm) on the greenery just below the sidewalk (and next to it).
I couldn’t mistake the black/white pattern as the blue krait moved just inches from Michael’s feet.
I said loudly – KRAIT KRAIT! Move back, move over here!
My first instinct, before I opened my mouth was to grab that sucker with the tongs and bag him.
As I moved to do that I realized Michael might get a good bite!
It was funny to see in hindsight how my mind worked. I’m glad I thought of him – right? You know how you get so excited you just act? That’s jsut about where I was. I’d looked for years and years for one of these kraits. Finally there it was – 1 foot from me, and I had all the equipment I needed to catch it if I was fast enough…
Anyway – after he moved a safe bit away I gave the initial squeeze with the tongs and pulled it up where we could see it. It was a beauty. I held it for a while as Michael searched through my backback for the snake bag. The krait got loose because I didn’t want to squeeze too hard… I found the bag – and re-found the krait who was already half under a large rock that I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to.
I slowly pulled it out with the tongs and we bagged it.
Today we took this video in the morning.
She was calm… slow for a bit, then woke RIGHT up. You don’t want to miss this video if you handle or plan on handling kraits. They do have the potential to move VERY fast in whatever direction they choose. I was shocked (horrified!) that it came right at me in an instant.
I never felt as alive as in those few seconds, I can tell you truthfully.
Though we tailed it – and were able to handle the krait a little bit – I never felt comfortable with it – and would never hold one, day or night. Least of all night-time.
Come to Thailand and herp – and see what we can find!
The video is below. You don’t want to miss the video because just after I say something like, “This snake kills a few people a year in Thailand” the krait comes at me totally unexpectedly and I freak out trying to move my feet out of the way and get back. Just by pure luck I filmed it coming at me.
That was one of the scariest moments of my life – and yet my body still reacted to get out of the way. It was totally unexpected – and yet I was able to move fast enough. I don’t know whether it would have bitten me, but I don’t see why not. We had aggravated it for a good 20 minutes and it was probably getting angrier as time went on.
If you work with kraits – don’t be lulled into the false sense of control that you don’t have. The krait can, at any time, turn one of your best days into the worst day of your life. There are rumors that if this krait or the many-banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus) bit you, and you went to the hospital – 50% chance you will STILL die from the venom. Not sure if that’s true – but, still – it’s damn strong, and nothing to mess with.
The red-tailed pipe snake is a beautiful snake, though at first glance you might wonder if it is a snake at all! It has a very flat appearance for the tail region, and very black on the top. The head is so small you might think it’s a large fat worm. The eyes are very small. This snake spends a lot of time in the dirt looking for grubs, maggots, and very small larvae and things.
Range: All over Thailand on flat ground and at some elevation up to 1700 meters.
Notes: I had one of these red-tailed pipe snakes at my home to photograph and shoot video of for two days. They are beautiful snakes. Their top is black and has a radiance like a sunbeam snake – you know that rainbow appearance when the sunlight hits it? Beautiful. Then, on the underside the bands of black and white don’t line up – so it’s very different. The bands will turn red and black as the juvenile red tailed pipe snake ages. The head is very small and the eyes – almost impossible to see.
Habitat: The snake lives on the ground and in rat holes and termite mounds, under stumps or rocks and in other cool, damp places. I find them in a tangle of roots in the water sometimes.
Active Time? The snake is mostly nocturnal and is active at night.
Food: Brahminy blind snakes, insect larvae, small frogs and worms.
Defensive Behavior: This pipe snake hides the head under loops of it’s body and flips it’s red tail end up in the air – flattening it – as if like a cobra. Thais call this the 2-head snake because it wants you to think it has two. In an hour of handling this snake, it made no move to bite at all. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but they are not all that inclined to bite. Their mouth is VERY small and they’d have to catch you just right to bite you.
Venom Toxicity: None that affects humans.
Offspring: This snake has 5-10 young, born live, about 20 cm long (about 8 inches).
Red Tailed Pipe Snake’s Scientific classification
Species: C. ruffus
Binomial name Cylindrophis ruffus
Classified by Laurenti in year 1768
These are yellow and black kraits. There are also “Blue Kraits“ which are black and white. And the red headed krait which looks nothing like either of them.
Bungarus Fasciatus (Banded Krait)
Thais say: (ngoo sam lee-um, or ngoo kan plong) This is a bit confused in Thailand where, in southern Thailand any viper is known as Ngoo sam lee-um. Lee-um means triangle, and so some people confuse triangle shaped heads of the vipers with triangle cross-section of the kraits.
Length: average 1.5m up to 2m (about 6.5 feet) In Thailand they don’t usually reach a full 2m.
Range: All over Thailand and most of Asia
Notes: I have yet to see a live banded krait in the wild, except a few dead on the roads – but I don’t go digging up ratholes or termite mounds. I may start if I don’t find one soon. I’ve been looking for three years to find a krait with yellow and black bands like these. At dinner last night I was looking around a small restaurant with many ponds, for snakes. I asked the owner’s son if they had seen any. He said, Ngoo Sam lee-um. SCORE. That’s the one! I’ll get their permission for some late night herping and try to bag one. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. This restaurant is located on a small hill close to sea-level in southern Thailand. There are many frogs at the ponds, and probably many snakes too.
Update 2015- I’ve been to that restaurant numerous times and not had a call from them about this krait. I am not sure they have been found in Krabi. I have found them on the road in Surat Thani, just north.
Habitat: The snake lives on the ground and in rat holes and termite mounds, under stumps or rocks and in other cool, damp places. Recently I saw photos of one in some limestone rocks here in Thailand. I’ve seen large 2 meter dead banded krait just on the outside of a rubber plantation in Surat. They prefer wide open areas. They have been found as high as 1,524 meters in Malaysia and about 2,300 meters in Thailand.
Active Time? The snake is mostly nocturnal and is quite active at night. Most bites occur at night, as the kraits move close to people sleeping – usually on the floor, and probably the person moves and the krait bites. More dangerous at night, during the day they are not biters. These kraits are common in the northeast Thailand provinces. Recently a six year old boy was bitten and could not be revived. The snake had come up into their home in Surin to escape some flooding.
Food: Other snakes almost exclusively – rat and cat (Boiga) snakes. One noted herpetologist states that kraits don’t like to eat water snakes. Will also eat rats, mice, frogs, lizards if snakes cannot be found.
Defensive Behavior: The banded krait is slow acting during the day, lethargic, and usually not interested in striking. However, it can protect itself quite well – it is a strong biter and has been recorded as killing a large type of cattle 60 minutes after a bite.
Venom Toxicity: Very toxic. Deadly. This yellow/black banded krait from Thailand is less toxic to humans than monocled cobra venom is, but still QUITE deadly. These snakes rarely bite during the day, but if they do, they can transfer enough venom to kill you. Literature shows someone dying in 30 minutes, another dying in 15 hours. A famous American herpetologist, Joe Slowinski, was killed by a baby krait (Bungarus multicinctus) in Burma while on a remote expedition. They can be quite deadly. The cause of death is that your muscles are paralyzed and your diaphragm can’t work any longer to pull oxygen into your lungs. Kraits are very deadly in this regard. However, if you are able to get to a hospital with a ventilator you will likely be OK. There is no specific antivenin for snake bites from this snake, but polyvalent venom is used – which can also treat bites from Naja kaouthia and Ophiophagus hannah.
Interesting to note… when fed on a live garter snake the krait venom acts instantly to cause death. Apparently krait venom is very efficient with snakes – the krait’s primary diet.
Handling: The banded and Malayan blue kraits are not known to bite during the daytime. However, at night time they bite rather easily, as evidenced by the numerous krait bites that occur at night to people usually laying down to sleep on the floor. I would never handhold kraits like the man is doing in the photo above. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small.
Anti-venin: Polyvalent. It is advised by experts to get antivenin in your blood stream for krait bites before you have symptoms because, once symptoms develop you may have lost nerve functioning that will not return.
Offspring: Mating in March-April and 4-14 eggs laid about 60 days afterward. The mother krait remains with the eggs for another 60 days before they hatch. Baby kraits are about 30cm long at birth, and have venom. I couldn’t find in the literature whether the mother left the eggs as they started hatching – so she didn’t eat them herself or not. The King Cobra does this instinctively because it also eats other snakes.
Banded Krait’s Scientific classification
Species: B. fasciatus
Classified by Schneider in year 1801
Photo of 2 Adult Banded Kraits:
Video of me with 3 Banded Kraits from Nakhon Si Thammarat, southern Thailand:
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