All posts by Vern

All posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping trips to find cobras, kraits, coral snakes, and other snakes native to Thailand. Thailand has over 200 snake species with many of them venomous.

What DON’T You Want Hiding in Your Motorbike?

Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostema), is a deadly snake that bites in response to heat sources. This snake is located in Thailand and is hiding inside a motorbike at night.

Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostema). Deadly bites are possible mainly due to brain hemorrhage (bleeding), but most people just lose some of their flesh to this snake. The venom is a very strong and is cytotoxic. It destroys living cells of all sorts, including muscle and bone. This is the snake you really don’t want to be hiding in your motorbike in Thailand!

Bharath contacted me by email just after I went to sleep last night. He said his wife was touched on the leg by the snake which was hiding in the motorbike. Apparently no bite. LUCKY DAY!

Photo ©2014 Bharath Bellur.

Worldwide Snake Identification Site

A few years back I implemented a feature on this site that I wasn’t sure would be used very often, but I thought it would be nice to have for visitors and expats living in Thailand. The feature was the Snake ID Form – you can see the link for it over on the right side column.

Well, after more than three years we’ve had nearly 1,500 form submissions by people requesting help to identify snakes. We charged nothing for it, and though it was sometimes a month or more before we could tackle the list of submissions, we eventually got around to all of them.

Yesterday I had a thought. Why not offer a worldwide service to help people ID snakes they find in ANY country?

It was a great thought, and again, I couldn’t figure out whether it would be worth it or not. It’s always a lot of time to build a new site and have it do well online. There is so much competition. Snakes are a fascinating subject and there are so many people that have their own websites they’re trying to make successful.

Long story short, I went for it this morning. I bought the domain SnakeIdentification.org and have the rudimentary beginning of a website there. A lot will be changing in the next few days. I hope to be able to make this work because I think it’s something the world needs. If you can help in any way by linking to the site, that would be so helpful. Let me know if you do and I’ll see if there’s anything I can do for you in return.

Cheers!

Vern

 

Snake Database Research Project

© 2014 Vern Lovic
© 2014 Vern Lovic

I’ve considered, on a couple of different occasions, creating a large database of snakes in Asia that could be used as a reference tool for anyone that wanted to join (free). I was thinking, start with Thailand snakes first. The data on each snake would be as comprehensive as possible. At the moment there are separate resources we can use to find information about specific species. The information is not up to date in most, and is not comprehensive by any means.

If anyone is interested in joining this project, do let me know. If there is enough interest, we can move forward with it. Information for each species would be exhaustive. Everything that is known about each. Photos of hatchlings, juvenile, and adult snakes. Photos of snake skins. Photos of eggs. Photos of environment typically frequented. Venom characteristics. Links to articles in the literature that provide more scientific information. Links to venom experts in the case of envenomation. Scale counts would be included. Latest finds would be included. New snakes not yet classified will have pages.

There really needs to exist a comprehensive database with everything that is known about a particular species, in one place online. This database would be an attempt at that.

This would be an ideal project for students looking to gain notoriety in the field and to make contacts with other snake enthusiasts around the globe.

Just a thought at the moment. Anybody want to move forward with it?

Recent Snake Bites in Thailand – King Cobra and Malayan Pit Viper

Malayan pit viper with eggs
Calloselasma rhodostoma (Malayan Pit Viper) with eggs.

Here’s a bit of news out of Krabi province. Just in the last month I’ve come across two people that were bitten by two of the worst snakes in the country, in all of the world really.

The first case was almost expected. I mean, you work with deadly snakes everyday, multiple times each day, and you’ll eventually slip up and one will get you. That’s what happened to a young 19 year old that works at a cobra show. He was doing the show with the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). He was on his knees and moving his head around to entice the snake to strike. He stopped moving for a brief second, and the snake struck at his shoulder. The bite was more of a scrape, but it definitely scraped the shoulder of the boy pretty deeply. His scar looks serious enough. To be bitten on the shoulder right there, near the heart and near some big blood vessels probably would not have resulted in a good situation had he been envenomated. But, he lucked out tremendously. The big cobra didn’t inject any venom. LUCKY OWEN!

As you probably know, king cobras have a venom that is not all that potent. I mean, it’s comparable with pit viper venom as far as cytotoxic damage it does, but it also has the neurotoxic component that renders muscle useless and stops the heart and breathing. The exceptional power of the king cobras bite is that it can transfer up to 7 ml of venom into the body of a victim. The usual amount is about .5 ml, and that’s enough to kill most people with a good bite.

The second case of snake bite in Krabi happened to a woman that was working in her garden at mid-day. There had been no rain at all for about two months prior to the bite incident. She kept her garden water on a lot during the day so she could water her plants. The snake, a Malayan pit viper, was coiled under some plants enjoying the cool water. She put her hand close to where it was, and ZAP. It tagged her with both fangs on the hand. She quickly wento to the hospital, but never did present any symptoms. Another dry bite! So, two-for-two here in Krabi.

Venomous snake bites result in a dry bite around 50% of the time. That means that you have a 50-50 chance that there will be no other complications other than the damage to your skin where the fangs penetrated.

Be careful in your garden, and walking around. May through December is the time in Thailand and many bordering countries where snakes are at their most abundant and most active. Be especially careful not to tread on or near the Russell’s Viper or Malayan Pit Viper. These are two vipers that are well hidden on the ground and don’t tend to move out of the way when someone is walking toward them. At night – use a flashlight (torch) to see where you’re putting your feet as you walk. You do NOT want to be bitten by a venomous snake in Thailand. Take care!

 

Banded Krait - Bungarus fasciatus - Deadly

Thailand Snakes Overview Video

Here is some general information about snakes in Thailand to put your mind at ease about the danger of the venomous snakes in the country. There is little to be afraid of if you are coming to visit Thailand for a few days, even a month. You are not likely to see any snakes at all unless you are out specifically looking for them. Even then, sometimes when I go looking, I don’t find any snakes after hours of looking. A friend just north of me in Hua Hin told me that he and another two guys just went out for 6 hours the other night and found nothing. That is the way it goes sometimes.

Anyway, watch this video for information about Thailand snakes in general. If you have any questions, just comment or write me an email. Cheers!

Thailand Herping Report by David Frohlich (Acrochordus granulatus)

Thailand Herping Report by David Frohlich (Acrochordus granulatus)

I decided to go herping in a mangrove forest near Pranburi, Thailand with a friend of mine, George. We arrived there at about 8:00 p.m. The weather during March was warm and the sky was clear. Surprisingly not many insects were calling. We found 3 Long-nosed Vine Snakes (Ahaetulla nasuta) in the first 30 minutes of the walk and we were very happy with that. But they were nothing compared to the next snake I spotted about 1 hour later at about 9:30 p.m.

I saw a black and white banded snake surfacing in mid-river for air. I immediately ran into the water to grab it! My first thought was that it’s a krait of some sort, but then quickly realized that its not. It turns out it was the rare Marine File Snake also known as the “Wart Snake” (Acrochordus granulatus)! These snakes grow to about 1 meter long and has black and white banding the entire length of the body. They are rather rare marine snakes that are active at night and are predominantly water dwellers. They eat small fish and saltwater eels. What a beautiful snake! I had never seen one of these before. The skin feels rough like sand, but at the same time very soft as well. Unlike any snake I have ever felt, very difficult to describe. The eyes are bright blue and the tail is slightly flattened into a paddle shape. Once I brought it out on land to get a good look at it, I felt 7 huge lumps in the snakes body in the back half of the body. I’m am assuming she is pregnant and those lumps are the juveniles, these snakes don’t lay eggs like most snakes, they give live birth. I am very happy to have found this truly awesome snake in Thailand.

The Marine File Snake is non-venomous and of no danger to humans. Acrochordus granulatus can be quickly identified by small blue eyes located on top it’s head, the lack of enlarged ventral scales, and loose-fitting skin with a gritty, sandy feel to it. On land, it is very sluggish and moves slowly. This snake is in the same Genus as the Javan File Snake (Acrochordus javanicus), which is brown in color, as thick as a human leg, and up to 3 meters in length.

Here is a short video of the snake:

Here are some photos of the Marine File Snake in the location found:

Achrochordus granulatus - Marine File Snake Handheld
Copyright 2014 David Frohlich.
Achrochordus granulatus - Marine File Snake Full Body Photo
Copyright 2014 David Frohlich.
Achrochordus granulatus - Marine File Snake Close up photo
Copyright 2014 David Frohlich.

Found Another New Snake – Not Yet Classified – Possible New Discovery

New Green Snake - Thailand

I was getting in one of my mountain climbing workouts and on the dead tree next to me was a small (50cm) dark green snake coming out of a hole where it looked like termites were munching wood. He was head down and just gliding slowly down the vertical trunk of the tree.

I ripped off my shirt and softly grabbed it. I’ve caught 3 of these same species of snake before, and none of them bit or struck, but I don’t take any chances when I don’t know what kind of snake it is.

I had my friend give me a plastic bag and I put the snake in there until I could drink all my water from a bottle and transfer the snake into the bottle. It was 10 minutes before I would find something to poke holes in the bottle. I let air in twice during that time. I’m always scared they don’t have enough to breathe.

I got home and tried to shoot some photos and video, but the light is horrible today and the snake was not cooperative at all. It is calm, but it is calm and full of energy. It never stops in one place so I can get a good photo. Hence the photos I’ll upload to this page are not perfect. Will work on getting better images tomorrow.

Also tomorrow I’ll try to get scale counts and some better video. It’s exciting to know that very few (or nobody) has seen this snake before. It isn’t described in the literature for Thailand. Maybe it came up the peninsula from Malaysia. Not sure. Anyway, enjoy the pics. Will post more as I get them.

New Oligodon Snake Discovery