All posts by Vern

All posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, coral snakes, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species with more than 70 of them venomous and dangerous to humans.

Worst Snake To Be Bitten By in Thailand? The King Cobra.

King Cobra - Worst Snake to be Bitten By in Thailand. Death can occur in 10 minutes.

This is a tough call because Thailand has a few snakes that could kill you within a couple hours if you weren’t able to reach medical care quickly enough.

I think the King Cobra, if it got a good bite on you – would be the worst snake to be bitten by in the country. I have a friend who lost his little brother (adult brother) to a King bite on the shoulder that killed him in less than ten minutes.

If you are allergic to the venom of the snake that bites you, death could come even sooner. Some snake experts recommend carrying around a Ventolin inhaler that people use for asthma treatment. If bitten by a venomous snake in Thailand you may start losing your breath. That’s when to take a spray. Others insist on epi-pens at the first sign of anaphylactic shock.

I always have the ventolin inhaler – I am slightly asthmatic so, in this case it’s a good thing.

More info about King Cobras at my new site.

WOW! Very Close Call KING COBRA BITE

A king cobra let out of the bag for photos – almost turns deadly!

Be careful up there guys!

King cobra striking at man's balls. Amazing footage, never before seen.
Amazing never been seen before footage (and I’ve seen heaps of stuff) of a King Cobra striking right for this guy’s balls! CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.
King cobra after striking at man's testicles ready for follow-up strike.
This is after the king cobra went through his legs, and was still moving forward. The guy is trying like hell to back up and falls. Luckily the king goes another direction. CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

King cobras are dangerous not because they are super fast, not because they have the worst venom in the world (they don’t), and not because they are so big.

They are so dangerous because they are so damn unpredictable, and because they are so big, they can do things that are hard to judge – and difficult to avoid. The guy grabbing the tail of the king cobra in this video has worked with kings for years. He thought he was far enough away that the king couldn’t come in that fast. Unfortunately, this king was energized and quickly flipped back for a bite at the crotch.

Then, when it missed, the mouth is still open looking for something to bite. It was not happy at all.

I handle king cobras very, VERY rarely. In the open area like this the king can move quickly because there are some plants and uneven ground it can use to grip the surface. It’s nothing like a road or flat, smooth dirt spot.

So glad these guys are alright!!

Grant Thompson – Austin, Texas Monocled Cobra Bite Victim

In Austin, Texas there was an 18-year-old man that seems to have been bitten by a monocled cobra in his vehicle recently and died of cardiac arrest (heart attack). This site got hammered with thousands of page-view requests for the monocled cobra fact page as a result.

The news report was horribly inadequate. It told that the man was bitten by a monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia). It showed snake tongs outside the man’s truck. It said the man died. It said that authorities were now looking in Austin, Texas for a monocled cobra and that they have a “good chance” of catching it. Huh? A good chance? I wouldn’t say that at all.

But, I don’t know where they’re looking. Maybe there isn’t much in the way of greenery around there and maybe it won’t be difficult to catch the snake. Anyway, when the temperature dips into the 50’s or so, that snake will not be mobile because it probably never experienced anything like 50°F!

Here’s our Monocled Cobra snake page  for more information about the snakes.

Monocled Cobras – Venomous – Very Deadly

Monocled cobra siblings. Deadly venomous snakes - Naja kaouthia - Thailand
Naja Kaouthia – Venomous – VERY dangerous and very common Thailand snake.

Naja kaouthia, the monocled cobra is one of Thailand’s most deadly snakes – with highly toxic (neurotoxic + cytotoxic) venom. One bite on your toe from one that jumps out of your outdoor refrigerator can kill you. Monocled cobras seem to be everywhere in Thailand. I had a friend that found them in his kitchen often. I’ve seen them crossing the road (see video below), and there was a family of these cobras living under the office of my wife’s workplace – with many 18″ baby cobras.

I just heard about Grant Thompson, an 18-year-old man in Austin, Texas that was bitten on the wrist by a monocled cobra and died of cardiac arrest. Authorities are looking for the snake. Tips that might catch the snake 1. If cool in the mornings, the snake might be found in bushes sunning itself. These cobras prefer hot weather over 80°F. 2. They are most active during daytime, but can move at night. 3. N kaouthia will eat eggs, mice, rats, if no other snakes are to be found. They prefer snakes, but I don’t know what Grant fed his snake. It might be unable to stalk prey and feed itself and die within a month.

Thais respect (fear) this snake because many have friends or relatives that have been envenomated (bitten and venom injected) by this snake. They even make Buddhist amulets with cobra snake images.

Currently I have two baby monocled cobras and even at 12-15 inches – they are fierce. One snake handler described monocled cobras as “spastic” – and I have to agree.

If you are bit by any cobra – get to the hospital as fast as you can. Monocled cobra venom is on par or even more toxic than some of the Thai kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a very small one – get to the hospital immediately. All it takes is a drop of venom to hit your blood stream for biological chaos to ensue.

Naja kaouthia
(Thailand Monocled Cobra)

Appearance: Monocled cobras are easily identified by looking at the back of the hood – there is a monocle – or – eye type shape there. They are light brown to dark grey to solid black. The two I have now, and the two I had before were almost black.

Thais say: Ngoo how hom, Ngoo how mo (long o sound)

Length: Typical maximum length about 1.5 meters. Recently I saw one in a mangrove forest that was 2 meters or larger. They can get up to 2.2 meters – about 7.5 feet long.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.

Notes: Neuro toxic venom affecting nerves, brain, and causing death very quickly without treatment. They are very fast strikers. The baby monocled cobras are every bit as deadly. Please be CAREFUL!

Habitat: Both flat and hilly regions. I’ve seen them on hills, but usually near people – under houses and in places rats and frogs are likely to be found. In the mornings they can be in trees and bushes – trying to get some sun to warm up. They love to hide under leaves, wood, anything really. Lifespan is around 30 years.

Deadly venomous Thailand monocled cobra (naja kaouthia) in strike pose.Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – active by day, but I have seen a couple moving around at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve only seen three active at night – the rest – dozens of them, were active during daytime.

Food: Rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, other snakes.

Defensive Behavior: Lift head off ground and flatten out neck. The hood flares quite wide compared to the width of the body – versus that of the king cobras, which don’t flare out that widely.

Monocled cobras are very active and ready to strike especially as the temperature climbs past 35C (about 95F). Do be very careful with them during this temperature range because they are ‘extra-bitey.’

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic, deadly. Even a small bite can kill you. See “neurotoxic and cytotoxic venoms” (link).

Offspring: Lays 25-40 eggs. Young are fully prepared to envenomate as they hatch. Mating takes place after the rainy season stops. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. Eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 and 12 inches at birth.

Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Naja
Species: Naja kaouthia

Classified by: Lesson, 1841

Monocled Cobra videos:
My Two Recent Baby Monocled Cobras:

Finding a Small Monocled Cobra on the Street:

My 2 Previous Monocled Cobras in the Tank:

Green Keelback – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Rhabdophis nigrocinctus, Thailand. This is a venomous and poisonous snake with nuchal glands.
This Rhabdophis nigrocinctus was in Phuket, Thailand. ©2015 Elliot Pelling.

Rhabdophis nigrocinctus (Green Keelback)

Thai: (noo ly sab keow kwan dam)

Length: Up to 90 cm

Habitat / Range: Thailand and southeast Asia. Found in a range of areas, usually fairly close to water. This snake is terrestrial – ground based, and is very common in Phuket, Thailand.

Notes: These snakes are commonly found near water, lakes, ponds, and in gardens.

Active Time? Daylight hours, especially dawn and dusk near water.

Food: Frogs, poisonous toads, and fish.

Defensive Behavior: Rarely strike.

Venom Toxicity: Though this snake is not known to have caused medically significant bites with envenomation, it is closely related to the Rhabdophis subminiatus which has proven capable of deadly bites. Do be very careful and treat these snakes as venomous and potentially deadly.

Offspring: Nothing known.

Notes:

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Rhabdophis
Species: Rhabdophis nigrocinctus

Red Necked Keelback – Venomous – Dangerous

Red Necked Keelback Snake, venomous, Thailand and southeast Asia.
A beautiful snake, usually under 1 meter, not very aggressive.

Rhabdophis subminiatus (Red-Necked Keelback Snake)

Thai: (ngoo lay sab ko dang)

Length: Up to 130 cm (1.3 meters). Usually smaller than 1 meter.

Range: Thailand and southeast Asia.

Notes: These snakes are commonly found near water, lakes, ponds, and in gardens. Recently a friend had one in his swimming pool in Krabi town, southern Thailand.

Active Time? Daylight hours. I’ve found them sleeping around 1 foot off the ground in bushes.

Food: Frogs, poisonous toads, and fish.

Defensive Behavior: Spread out the neck slightly to make themselves appear bigger. Not as dramatic as a cobra. Lift their head and neck off the ground 4-5 inches.

Some snakes of this species, and others in the genus Rhabdophis, have displayed a rather unique defensive behavior of exposing the back of their neck and secreting poison from their nuchal glands. This is not all that common, I for one have never seen this in the wild or with snakes in captivity and I’ve seen dozens of them.

One researcher, Kevin Messenger, claims that the R. subminiatus helleri he caught in Hong Kong actually sprayed a mist of the poison into the air from the back of the neck. Quite amazing, if true, right? Obviously more study is needed into the secret life of this fascinating snake. Other snakes in Rhabdophis genus with nuchal glands: R. nuchalis, R. tigrinus, R. nigrocinctus (in Thailand).

Here is an image of the snake expressing poison from the nuchal glands.

Nuchal gland poison from Rhabdophis subminiatus helleri
The liquid on the neck near the top of the red shade is poison acquired from eating poisonous toads.

Here is the description in a scientific journal about Kevin’s encounter.

Venom Toxicity: LD50 is 1.29 mg/kg for intravenous injection (source). That is about the same rating as the very deadly “Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus)”. It was previously thought these snakes were harmless. Some kept them as pets and were bitten. In one case the snake was left to bite for two entire minutes before removing it from a finger. Serious complications resulted requiring hospitalization and intensive care. Click for article. These snakes are rear-fanged and need to bite and hold on, or, repeatedly bite to have any effect on humans. Once they do either – there is the possibility of severe problems including renal failure and death. Recently a small boy of 12 years old was bitten by one he was keeping as a pet in Phuket, Thailand and he is currently being treated (11/5/10). Be very careful not be be bitten by these snakes. There is NO ANTI-VENIN available yet for these snakes in Thailand.

Another study in Japan ranked the venom as having an LD50 of 1.25 mg/kg for intravenous injection. (Japan Snake Institute, Hon-machi, Yabuzuka, Nitta-gun, Gunma-ken, Japan) V.1- 1969- Volume(issue)

In Japan they make limited amounts of antivenin, but it is specifically for their in-country use.

Update: The 12 year old boy bitten by the Rhabdophis subminiatus was treated for 2 weeks of intensive care, and released. He was bitten multiple times, the 2nd bite lasting over 20 seconds.

Offspring: I had a juvenile red-necked keelback I’ve taken photos and videos of and released into the wild. I cannot find anything much about offspring. Recently (mid-June) I found a DOR juvenile very recently hatched, so like most snakes in Thailand the time around June is when they are hatching out. The coloration of the juvenile is quite different from adults as you can see in the photo and video below.

Rhabdophis subminiatus Juvenile
A hint of red on the neck in the juvenile. A pronounced black banding at the neck and grey on the head is evident in juveniles.

Notes: These snakes can inflict a deadly bite when they are allowed to bite for longer than a couple of seconds. I know personally of two instances where a child was bitten for well over 20 seconds, and a man was bitten for about a minute. Neither wanted to hurt the snake to remove it forcibly, and both spent over a week in intensive care, with the possibility of renal failure and death. Do not play with these snakes. If you have one, do not free-handle it. Treat it like you would a pit viper or a cobra. The LD50 on this snake for intravenous was stated to be 1.29 mg/kg. That is VERY venomous.

As a precaution, any snake in the Rhabdophis genus should be treated with extreme caution. In Thailand we also have the diurnal Rhabdophis nigrocinctus, which probably can also inflict a medically significant bite if given the opportunity.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Rhabdophis
Species: Rhabdophis subminiatus

Red Necked Keelback video

Red Neck Keelback Snake ( <- click) video – This is another red-necked keelback (adult) that I had for a while. I’ve since let it go back into the wild.

Snakes I’ve Found or Caught in Thailand

I thought I’d write up a list of Thailand snakes I’ve caught – just to keep track. Here’s a list of both venomous and non-venomous snakes I’ve caught (through 5/2011).

53 Thailand Snakes I’ve been lucky enough to find:

NEW SPECIES! I found a new Oligodon species that has not been named. I didn’t cooperate with biologists to go through the process of having it classified.

NEW SPECIES! I found another snake that I think is a new species. It is similar to a keelback, but thinner, longer. It was yellow with a white ring around the neck, about 70 cm in length around 400 meters elevation.

Venomous Species

Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia)

Malayan Krait / Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus)

Mangrove Pit Viper (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus)

Wagler’s Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri)

Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma)

Beautiful Pit Viper (Trimeresurus venustus)

Red Necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus)

Red Headed Krait – (Bungarus flaviceps)

Small Spotted Coral Snake (Calliophis maculiceps)

Observed, but didn’t catch:

King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) – 3 occasions

 

Non-Venomous Species

Golden Kukri Snake (Oligodon cinereus)

Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus)

Triangle Keelback (Xenochrophis triangularis)

Common Brown Keelback (Xenochrophis flavipunctatus)

Checkered Keelback (Xenochrophis piscator)

Striped Keelback (Amphiesma stolatum)

Big-eyed Mountain Keelback (Pseudoxenodon macrops)

Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) green, yellow phases

Malayan Whip Snake (Ahaetulla mycterizans)

Malayan Banded Wolf Snake (Lycodon subcinctus)

Brown Whip Snake / Keel bellied Whip Snake (Dryophiops rubescens) both brown and red phases.

Laotian Wolf Snake (Lycodon laoensis)

Common Wolf Snake (Lycodon capucinus)

Malayan Bridle Snake (Dryocalamus subannulatus)

Puff-Faced Water Snake (Homalopsis buccata)

Red Tailed Pipe Snake (Cylindrophis ruffus ruffus)

Sunbeam Snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)

Common Water Snake / Yellow Bellied Water Snake (Enhydris plumbea)

Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata)

Paradise Tree Snake (Chrysopelea paradisi)

Blue Bronzeback Snake (Dendrelaphis cyanochloris)

Striped Bronzeback Snake (Dendrelaphis caudolineatus)

Common Bronzeback Snake (Dendrelaphis pictus)

Banded Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis striatus)

Copperheaded Racer (Coelognathus radiata)

Malayan Racer (Elaphe flavolineata)

Red-tailed Racer (Gonyosoma oxycephalum)

Banded Cat Snake / Mangrove Cat Snake / Black Cat Snake (Boiga dendrophila)

Green Cat Snake (Boiga cyanea)

Dog-toothed Cat Snake (Boiga cynodon)

Common Mock Viper (Psammodyanstes pulverulentus)

Ridley’s Racer (Othriophis taeniurus ridleyi)

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (Ptyas korros)

White-bellied Rat Snake (Ptyas fusca)

Oriental Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosus)

Keeled Rat Snake (Ptyas carinatus)

Brahminy Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)

Common Bridle Snake (Dryocalamus davisonii)

Rainbow Water Snake (Enhydris enhydris)

Yellow-striped Caecillain (Ichthyophis sp) 

DORs (Dead on Road)

I don’t count these, I have seen another 50 or so species, in addition to most of those above.

 

Fifty-three different species of snakes! Well, there are 150+ more out there – so I’d better get herping.

Just to make it crystal clear for those that need it. I catch the snakes and either take them somewhere I can let them go free and take photos-videos in a wide open clearing, or, if none can be found I take them to another place for photos and videos. I let the snakes I catch go usually within 24 hours. Always within 2-3 days. I put the snakes back in the same place I found them, or, if they are venomous and were caught in a house or near houses – I take them to another suitable habitat.

If you want to come and catch snakes in Thailand – give us an email: info[{at}] ThailandSnakes [{com}}. We go primarily (or always) for night herps for a couple reasons: 1. more herps. 2. cooler!

Thailand Snake Journal 1

Yesterday I had a great time. Two guys from England came over to hunt snakes in Krabi. They’ve seen my ThailandSnakes.com site and my snake videos on YouTube and asked if I would help them find snakes in Krabi.

We met at the Cobra show. I introduced everyone to each other – Yaya, Jackie, Ip, Maak, Johnny, Mark and Tom – these last two were from England.

Before Matt and Tom arrived Jackie brought me a small – 24 inch reticulated python that was not tame… that was great fun, and I was bitten within 10 minutes – talking to Jackie with my hands and not watching the snake! It was a weak bite, little blood.

That was great anyway – I’ve not played with a wild retic before.

There was a baby monkey there – they have a monkey show at the cobra show – and it was amazing. It immediately climbed all over me and held on tight. It was way too young to be away from the mom – but this is how they do it here. The monkey LOVED me – then I found out why- the Thai guy that ran the monkey show was a barbarian and smacked the hell out of it – a hard palm smack to the head and knocked it off the table when he took it from me. I’ve no idea why… it looked like that’s just what he does with it. I watched my anger inside rise and subside… So i watched this monkey get smacked in the head and fly off the table to the concrete floor and showed no reaction. I’ve had to accept seeing much worse than this without doing anything.

So – eventually, after the monkey got loose and came running to me to hide him and asshole was trying to catch him but I didn’t help him. Tom and Mark arrived. They showed the snake guys pics of these ultra venomous snakes Tom keeps back in the UK. Wild colors… Tom breeds them now and sells them. He makes a living off that and working with kids with mental illness in a group home setting like I did in Tampa for 3 yrs.

Yaya – owner of the cobra show – 35 yr old guy, great skills with snakes and 10 yrs experience asked if we wanted to go back and see the snakes. I had already set up with him that my friends would be coming so he he kindly offered. Tom is a King Cobra nut.

We walked around the cages. There was a 2 meter long rat snake, a giant falcon, and then about 15 reticulated pythons – some of them 5 meters long… these are chicken wire cages and you can get right up to them.

Next was the monocled cobra cage – there were about a dozen in there – up to 2 meters. They are ultra deadly too – their venom affects central nervous system as well as being cytotoxic and causing those black necrotizing wounds that you might have seen people suffer from Thailand snakebites. Really sick stuff.

Tom pulled one out – and was playing with it – Johnny was bored and stuck his snake hook into the pack of them and pulled about 10 monocled cobras over to Tom’s feet. Tom now had 11 of the most dangerous snakes on the planet at his feet to deal with. We were all laughing – me nervously, others – for other reasons… lol. This began a sort of competition between the Thais and westerners. The Thais of course winning and proud to show all they could do with the snakes without taking a bite and winding up dead.

After they saw Tom COULD handle 11 cobras they were impressed to some degree, but the next cage was the king cobra. It’s 4 meters long and Tom’s favorite is the King. He has a 3m king at home in England.

Tom played with that and then I asked Yaya, can we take it to the floor?

He was nice enough to agree, and Johnny came up and whipped that snake out of the cage, across the rain gutter and through the plants over to the show floor. Amazing this guy can handle a 4 meter king like a toy.

The king cobras in Thailand are awesome. Though their venom is not near as deadly as the smaller monocled cobra – it can inject 7ml of venom in one bite. This can, has, killed elephants, water buffalo, etc. Oh – and people.

Johnny’s younger brother – just 2 yrs ago – was killed by a bite that happened right there on the show floor. A new 5 meter king twisted around unexpectedly and lunged – biting his chest. He died in the car on the way to the hospital – 20 minutes away. He was dead in 10 minutes with Yaya driving furiously.

Yaya had to call Johnny and tell him – come to the hospital, he brother was bit by a cobra. Johnny asked, “King?”. Yep. Well, just give him the antivenin and I’ll come up tomorrow. Yaya said, no, today Johnny – your little bro is dead already.

There were tears in Yaya’s eyes when he told me the story. Johnny’s little bro wanted to be like Johnny and was testing himself with the bigger, new King they had just got.

Everyone has been bitten there by cobras a couple of times, Johnny is missing a finger from a king bite he survived.

Surprisingly, before we left I asked Johnny and Jackie what their favorite snake was and Johnny said, the King Cobra.

Anyway – it was a great time – a competition between us – with the Thai guys outshining Tom and Matt just based on their years of experience – and also their familiarity with the snakes we were working with. I wasn’t even in the picture, but I did hold up the 4m King by myself for a couple of seconds while someone distracted his attention to the front away from me. Something I thought I’d NEVER do.

It’s hard to argue with so many expert snake handlers saying – you CAN DO IT, you can… So I did.

However, I wouldn’t, for any amount of cash – touch the head of the king cobra from the front. Matt did it though! Tom even kissed the top of the head of the King like they do in the cobra show – Johnny taught them how to do it. They are both good snake handlers with years of experience versus my years of playing around. I did as much as I cared to without dying…

They brought out a big python then and I played with that a while. The strikes are vicious on those things, but at least they aren’t venomous.

After we all gave a donation we were ready to go to the cars and Jackie brought out this wicked big 8″ centipede. Same as I’ve seen in Hawaii but in Hawaii I’ve seen them 11 inches.

Tom, Matt, and myself – we’re all scared to death of centipedes… Jackie had it crawling on his arm. We’re freaking out cuz he wants to put it on us. Everyone’s laughing like made. We had just played with some of the most deadly snakes in the world – confidently, and there we were pulling away like little children with this centipede. Problem is they bite QUICK and for no reason at all. I’ve been bitten in Hawaii by a tiny venomous Hawaiian centipede – 3 inches and it hurt a lot.

Jackie disappeared with it then came back with the centipede on his face.

That was enough for me – I said, let’s go guys…

Nope, Jackie wouldn’t allow it and told us he took the pincers off the centipede.

Well, that’s another rather sick thing about living here – they don’t think twice about things like this – removing the pincers so we could play with it. The centipede would never catch food in the same way again… Not sure they grow back.

So at Jackie’s insistence we all let the beast crawl all over our arms and faces.

From there we went to a cave at a temple that usually has cave snakes – Ridley Racers. We didnt see them, but the monk there – also a friend of mine, took us on a guided tour of the grounds and all the caves – it was great fun despite not seeing the cave snakes (that catch bats out of the air for food). The monk would walk a bit and pull off leaves and hand them to us and eat one himself. He did this over and over and over – we taste-tested about 12 types of plants around there that all looked like weeds – but were edible because none of us got sick. Really cool monk. He opened a door for us and bats all flew out of this room – horrorshow like. Funny guy.

We went back to their “resort” which is a mountain resort near the temple steps I climb all the time. It’s really secluded and they’d already found four snakes there. We checked out those snakes – a small white-lipped viper (deadly), a painted bronzeback snake (venomless), and an oriental whip snake (venom, but non-biting) that was just beautiful… oh , and a paradise tree snake – they can glide over many meters jumping from tree to tree or tree to ground. Cool snakes. I’ve found and kept some here before too (non-venomous).

We went out for a night hunt and found many frogs, an amazing gecko (pic attached) and a 2 meter mangrove snake that tom had to climb 30 feet up the tree and grab with these long tongs. A great effort – and icing on the cake for the day.

Thailand Snake Note: Most Common Snakes

Common Thailand Snakes

When visiting Thailand on vacation or for a long-term stay there are certain snakes you are likely to see and others that you will probably never see, even if you’re looking very hard to find them. For instance, an uncommon snake is one of the blue coral snakes. I have only seen one blue coral snake crossing a highway between Surat and Krabi – and I was lucky to see that.

Thailand Snake - Red Tailed Racer, Gonyosoma oxycephalum
Found often in southern Thailand – the Red Tailed Racer, Gonyosoma oxycephalum.

Red-tailed Racer (Gonyosoma oxycephalum) This is a fairly large rat snake reaching over one meter in length. It has no fangs to deliver venom, and can be considered harmless for humans. It does bite, of course, so stay out of reach. This is an incredibly beautiful snake with green hues, blue-green eyes, and black and blue tongue. Stunning!


Radiated Rat Snake - Copperhead Racer

Radiated Rat Snake / Copper-headed Racer (Coelognathus radiata) – These are very common and may even qualify as the most commonly seen snake in Thailand. Non-venomous, not dangerous except they are big biters! Many small teeth. A bite can hurt and get infected.


Red Neck Keelback Snake - Southern Thailand

 

Red necked keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) is now classified as a deadly venomous snake.
Red Necked keelback – do not keep as a pet – bites can cause serious kidney damage.

 

Red-necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) Brightly colored snakes that become more so when agitated. These brightly colored snakes are found in captivity across the globe. They were previously considered non-venomous and not dangerous until recently. Death has occurred as a direct result of envenomation from this species, though not in Thailand. In Thailand we have had a number of close calls. Renal failure after bites is one of the possible potentially deadly outcomes.


Yellow Spotted Keelback from Southern Thailand

Other Keelback snakes – Keelbacks are very common ground snakes and love water. You might see them in the water or on the ground moving around. Keelbacks are generally easily identified by distinct black (dark) lines from the eye area toward the jaw. Most keelbacks in Thailand are not very dangerous, but you wouldn’t want to let one bite down for more than a second or two. Remove immediately – even if you have to hurt the snake to do so, especially those in the Rhabdophis genus.


Golden Tree Snake - Southern Thailand

Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata) A very common tree snake and their favorite food appears to be Gekko gecko, the Tokay Geckos, so you may see one at your home. These snakes have a mild venom that doesn’t generally affect humans at all. These snakes do traverse across the ground but quickly find a tree when threatened. Masterful climbers!


Thailand Bronzeback Snake Strikes

Bronzeback Snakes – also incredible climbers, I first saw one as it came over my six-foot concrete wall in the back of the house in Surat Thani. Very thin snakes, not that afraid of humans. Bite quickly – as you might guess from the photo, but in all honesty I’m holding his tail – so it’s to be expected! Mildly venomous colubrids, and not dangerous to humans.


Oriental Whip Snake - Southern Thailand

Oriental Whip Snakes (Ahaetulla prasina) A very common snake, and usually found in trees, but the last two I found were on the ground probably hunting lizards or frogs. The bright fluorescent greens in this snake are awesome, yes? These have a mild venom, but again, no serious results of envenomation have occurred in humans.


Malayan Pit Viper - Southern Thailand Venomous and Deadly Snake

Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) A very dangerous pit viper whose venom is severely cytotoxic and potentially deadly. Causes the death of more people in Thailand than any other snake. Bites quickly. Lazy to get out of the way if you’re walking toward it, usually just lays still. Always found at ground level, and often on top of, or under leaves.


Green Cat Snake - Southern Thailand

Green Cat Snake (Boiga cyanea) This snake is almost 2 meters long when fully grown, and resembling the vipers – except it’s too long to be a viper. Be very careful with any green snake as there are many vipers with strong venom that are green and look very similar to this one. This Green Cat Snake is harmless, and didn’t even try to bite as I interacted with it.


There are other common snakes not pictured here. Some of the black rat snakes – Ptyas korros, are especially common, but they look very much like the monocled cobras to the untrained eye. Do be very cautious of any snake that is solid brown, grey, black, or that is mostly dark with some white spots – speckles or odd pattern. Cobras are quick to bite and one of the most deadly daylight snakes you’ll encounter.

Be especially careful of cobra snakes which can spit venom 2-3 meters away (farther with a strong wind!). They can temporarily blind you as they make their getaway, but the problem is your eyes will be burning until you can flush them with water for 10-20 minutes.

Kraits are snakes active by night for the most part. The banded krait and the Malayan blue krait are both deadly snakes – the former with yellow and black bands about the same thickness, and the latter with black and white bands, the black bands are thicker near the neck, and more evenly spaced farther down on the tail.