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.
Rupert Lewis from the United Kingdom was out herping in Thailand a couple nights ago and came upon this little beauty. It’s Gongylosoma baliodeirus or possibly a subspecies. I say possibly because I can’t find any information about the snake online at all. A Google search on image and text of the name of the snake produces nothing but the name, classification and who first found it (Boie). I did find one report of this snake being found in Borneo at 2,000 feet elevation on Mt. Penrissen, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Rupert had an illustration he found in a book that identified it as Gongylosoma, but that’s about all we know from information found in books or online.
The snake was caught at night in Krabi Noi rainforest (Krabi province, Thailand) after midnight on a half-moon night. The elevation was roughly 100 meters above sea level.
This snake is about 40 cm in length and under 5 cm in girth at its thickest. It is smooth-scaled and Rupert counted 8 diagonal scales to the vertebral column.
The snake was cooperative and did not attempt to bite.
This is a new range for this snake, as previously they have not been found in Krabi province. They are rare in Thailand at all, and have only been found in some of the southernmost provinces.
The photos are copyright 2013 Vern Lovic, with many thanks to Rupert Lewis for sharing this snake with me. First published May 22, 2013. Updated Aug 15, 2015.
The Blue Malaysian Coral Snake is a venomous elapid and is one of the most strikingly beautiful snakes you’ll ever see. I’ve been lucky enough to see one crossing the road in southern Thailand and I didn’t have any snake hook to grab him.
Calliophis bivirgatusflaviceps (Blue Malaysian Coral Snake, Blue Long-glanded Coral Snake)
3 Sub-species:C. b. bivirgatus in Java – lacks blue stripes on ventral. C. b. flaviceps in Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia (possibly, no records), Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and various islands of the Riau Archipelago. C. b. tetrataenia in Borneo has a light yellow stripe on side, without blue stripe.
Thais Say: ngoo bik thong dang
Length: Up to 180 cm, however usually around 140 cm
Range: This beautiful coral snake is found from around Bangkok and south toward Peninsular Malaysia.
Habitat: Usually found at some elevation – over 400 meters, I have also found them at 100 meters asl. Calliophis bivirgatus prefers heavily wooded and wet areas of primary and secondary rainforest.
They seem to prefer living under and foraging under leaves and fallen trees to rocks. They are terrestrial, I’ve never seen one climb anything.
Active Time: These corals snakes are nocturnally active, but on rainy and cloudy days they can also be found, like many coral snakes.
Description: Medium sized, though large for a coral snake, this snake reaches 140 cm typically, and up to 190 cm have been recorded. The body is mostly deep blue with light blue or white stripes along the lower ventral side of the body. The head, venter (belly), and tail are usually brilliant red. The nose is blunt for foraging the leaf litter where it spends most of its time.
Defensive Behavior: Always avoiding man and other large threats, they can be very fast as they flip about almost spastically. When they are trapped and tailed, they may attempt to flip over on the dorsal side, exposing a brilliant ventral of red, orange, and pinkish color. During foraging these snakes are very slow moving.
Food: Prey includes other snakes, lizards, frogs, birds.
Danger: All coral snakes must be treated as the potentially lethal snakes they are. That said, many people free-handle these snakes at their own peril. Deaths have occurred as the result of envenomation by this snake. One man in Singapore was reported to have died within five minutes of envenomation. Do be exceptionally careful and never hand-hold any deadly snake.
Venom Toxicity: Neurotoxic venom which does not initially present with much pain at the bite site is immediately acting to block nerve impulses. The wound may become numb, and lips may also get numb. Difficulty in breathing occurs as the venom shuts down muscle contractions – the diaphragm and other major muscles.
Offspring: Oviparous and clutches of 1-3 eggs.
Notes: One of the most impressive snakes to see in the wild. Fairly common in deep Southern Thailand and Malaysia mountains. This snake is easily confused with Calamaria schlegeli in Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, Java, and Sumatra. The red-headed reed snake which is harmless. The reed snake has smaller scales and no red tail or venter. Venter is grey and white.
I’m trying to come up with a t-shirt design for ThailandSnakes.com. I have some ideas, but I need to hear from readers like you who may end up buying a shirt at some point. The shirts will be sold at cost – I’m not looking to make any profit from them. I just want to get as many shirts out there as possible. THANKS!
We had a rather successful night herping trip about ten days ago or so. I’ll cover what we found. It’s always a blast no matter what snake is found because there is always other wildlife that is found.
First up was a spot on the ground in the leaf litter by Marc I think it was. He saw an adult Lycodon laoensis that had recently shed and was bright and lively. That made us all feel better as we were only about an hour into the herp. It’s always good to get the first one out of the way. The Laotian wolf snakes, as L laoensis is called, are usually quite calm but occasionally you get a bitey one that cannot be held and just rapid fire strikes at the air in a haphazard fashion. This one didn’t get bitey.
On a technical note, my damn camera was set at rear shutter flash sync and to top it off I had a shutter sync of 1/60th the entire night. I’m not sure where my head was, but it wasn’t into photographing snakes. Maybe I was just so excited because we found one after another?
Next up I think was me finding a Lycodon capucinus climbing a tree. Yes, you heard that correctly. It was going up the tree. The tree was 70 cm in diameter and the snake was about 2 meters off the ground. After stepping in a hole that could have been 2 meters deep, and catching myself, I was able to grab the snake gently and take him over for the rest of the crew to see. We took some shots on a moss covered concrete road and let it go. Another great specimen, but to tell you the truth I’ve seen so many of the two Lycodon’s we’d found that I didn’t really care if I ever found another. It’s not that bad, but come on already. Dozens and dozens over the years.
So, we had two snakes and were about 90 minutes into the herp.
I think the next snake was the Trimeresurus venustus, found by Ronny as we hit the peak of the hill. It was cruising the ground and probably in need of a shed. Still, we took a bunch of photos and videos and let it go in a bush just to watch it climb around. A friend earlier had found a few of these snakes in one night, so this was my target species for the night. Check! (top image) Three snakes and we were only half done.
The next snake I found was the green cat snake (Boiga cyanea). It was cruising the leaf litter and was very calm when we found it. Three guys with bright torches picking it up and shooting photos should have irked it a bit, but no biting attempts were made.
Ronny had to bail, it was getting late, so he took off on his motorbike, maybe running over the tail of a snake we found later with a kink in her tail.
The next snake we found was a deadly Malayan pit viper. They’re common, and I was sure we’d see one. This was a sub-adult and it had a hard kink in the tail. I’m guessing Ronny ran it over when he left on his motorbike. There was a bunch of stuff littering the road, and if he did hit it I don’t think anybody would fault him. The break was below the anal scale, so, probably will be OK. It crawled away OK, as you can see in the video I’ll post before too long at the Thailand Living YouTube channel. I’ve seen so many of this snake too that I didn’t take photos. I was pissed at my camera and my ineptitude with the camera at this point.
Marc and I kept on slowly down the hill and found a little Lycodon subcinctus or Dinodon septentrionalis. See image below. Not sure which. I’ve never seen L subcinctus with so many bands. This one had something like 52 if I remember correctly. Seemed like a little Bungarus multicinctus when I first saw it. After a bit I was able to see the pattern on the side of the body that was definitely Lycodon or Dinodon.
I shot photos and video with my little Nikon AW100 which worked better than the Nikon D610 I had farked the settings on.
It was getting late and neither Marc or myself thought we’d be out later than midnight. It was already past 12:30 am. and we headed down the hill to make it home by 1 am.
Oh, I forgot to tell about some of the other animals we saw. A couple of frogs, didn’t get good photos of either. A scorpion eating a cricket on a tree. Some sort of mammal ran across in front of us, and it wasn’t a cat. The only thing I could come up with was mongoose. Not sure what it was. It moved so smoothly as it ran. Very odd. Maybe an alien of some sort?
So that was it. I think six snakes in total, but I could be missing one, I thought it was seven.
Herping in Thailand is usually a blast – if the timing is right. Tonight the timing was good – it was a half-moon, fairly clear night with rain blowing through a little bit in quick and light showers.
Yesterday I met a lovely husband and wife herping team from Florida, in the USA, and we all went out to see what could be found at a park not too far away. Southeast Asia herping is probably unbeatable. Thailand and Malaysia in particular have such diversity of species, not only snakes, but frogs, lizards, geckos, spiders, scorpions, centipedes… all sorts of great wildlife to target.
This is a Thailand national park – and aesthetically – quite beautiful. Day herping is always tough though. We went for a total of 3 hours – and found many lizards, two scorpions, skinks, and a couple of frogs. One snake – a Rabdophis subminiatus, Red-Necked Keelback that was near the water. These are such beautiful snakes… since it was a national park we didn’t collect it for photos and videos but they did shoot some of it in the natural habitat.
This is my favorite time of year coming up for snakes and herping field trips. If you’re interested in coming to Thailand – or anywhere in southeast Asia – for herping – you must stop in Thailand and we’ll go see what we can find.
At the moment the snakes are hot during the day and there is more action at night. Sometimes the snakes can be found near water during the day – but, you’re not likely to find snakes roaming around the open, dry forest for now – it’s just too hot. If it rains you maybe can find snakes out – regardless what time of day or night. They’d be looking for frogs – but this is not frog season yet.
Frogs are probably the number one favorite food for snakes in Thailand. They are soft and fat – with some meat. Geckos too – are soft, but have little meat. Geckos are also VERY fast. Frogs are VERY slow. Easier to catch frogs for sure.
Anyway, if you are coming to Thailand and are interested in snakes, lizards, and other reptiles – a herping trip might be called for.
Range: Chumpon to Krabi Province in Thailand. I have found them in Krabi and Surat Thani provinces.
Notes: I found this one in the picture on a small hill at a Buddhist temple on a hill next to some steps. These venomous snakes are active on the ground and in bushes. This one was in a bush about 1.3 meters high, right next to the path. It was non-aggressive and didn’t protest when I moved it away from the path with a stick.
Habitat: I’ve found these vipers up to 300 meters elevation. This snake hunts almost entirely on the ground where it preys on frogs and lizards. They also enjoy jungle, limestone mountains, and rubber plantations. I kept one of these for three days to photograph and shoot video of. It spends most time suspended from a branch just a few inches off the bottom of the tank.
Active Time? The snake is mainly nocturnal. Active during the day only after heavy rainfall. I have found most of mine during daylight hours, but have also found them at night hunting prey.
Food: Mice, frogs, lizards. I had a good sized house gecko in the tank with this Trimeresurus venustus, but it left it alone. The pit vipers sense the heat of the animal and strike. The geckos are cold blooded so they are no hotter than their surroundings.
Defensive Behavior: The snake is very slow during the day and only bites if seriously aggravated. I ran into a reptile poacher in a Thailand forest and he was hand carrying one of these brown spotted green pit vipers in his left hand and had a large box turtle in his other hand. I told him – PIT! It means ‘venomous’ in Thai. He insisted “no, it wasn’t” and held it up to his face where the snake immediately bit him on the cheek a couple times and once on the lip. It let go after 1-2 seconds. He said – “See??” I promptly bought the snake from him, to keep him from further harm. Not sure what hospital he was at that night!
Venom Toxicity: Mildly toxic. Bites are painful and usually without significant effects. Probably this viper would need to bite down for a number of seconds to transfer enough volume of venom that it would be seriously detrimental. Bites are to be considered potentially deadly. Green Pit Viper Antivenin is available and manufactured by the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand and is available at most public hospitals.
Offspring: The beautiful pit viper I have now is likely gravid, which contradicts some other info I’ve seen about them having offspring in the June/July time-frame. This is December. She is not overly gravid and looks to be in the beginning stages, but still – I think only a couple of months are required for gestation. She’ll have an early birth – April maybe? These snakes birth live offspring in a jelly-like bubble that breaks after coming out of the female snake. Typical numbers are 20-30 young that are colored and patterned same as the adults.
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.
A king cobra let out of the bag for photos – almost turns deadly!
Be careful up there guys!
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.
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!
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 from under 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.
I’ve worked with two hatchling 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 bitten 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 Thailand kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a small one, a nick, a scrape, 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. Most are very close to 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 long, a giant. 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.
Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – active by day, but I have seen a number of them still active at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve seen five 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. When comparing the monocled cobra and the king cobra, the monocled cobras have a hood flare that is more extreme in relation to the width of their body and heads.
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 very easily agitated and strike much more often.
Offspring: Lays 25-40 eggs. Young are fully prepared to envenomate as they hatch. Mating takes place after the rainy season. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. Eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 to 12 inches at birth.