All posts by Vern

All posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours to find cobras, kraits, vipers, coral snakes, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has around 200 snake species with around 60 of them venomous and dangerous to humans.

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.

Roadkill Tuesday Ride – Dead Snakes Abound

I had some time the other day around lunch to do some road-cruising here around my home in Thailand. The rain hasn’t really started very seriously here yet. We’ve had maybe 3 strong, but short, rains since the rainy season began back in early May. What it’s waiting for, I’m not sure, but it isn’t helping the snakes to come out and play.

I have been seeing some neonate snakes flopping around on the roads lately. The C. radiata are always common in the early season – May and June. I’ve started to see some hatchling P. korros as well now. Anyway, I figured I’d go drive around and see what is getting hit on the roads. I’m not a day herper – I only go at night, so it was interesting to cruise around on the motorbike and look for snakes. I found plenty. In just an hour and twenty minutes I found around ten snakes. There were more, but I just couldn’t stop in the middle of busy vehicle traffic to go check them out. I saw maybe another four snakes I couldn’t get to.

It’s a bit sad to see so many dead snakes in such a short amount of time. I think about how many were hit and were able to still get off the road into the brush, where they died. Must have been at least as many, probably more since most snakes after being hit by a car can still keep going a bit. Snakes are hard to kill and would need a head-shot to die quickly.

OK, I won’t keep you in suspense. Here are the snakes I found that I could identify (to the best of my ability):

2 – C. rhodostoma (Malayan pit viper)
1 – P. korros (Indo-Chinese rat snake)
1 – T. albolabris (White lipped pit viper)
1 – A. prasina (Oriental whip snake)
1 – L. laoensis (Laotian wolf snake)
1 – X. unicolor (Sunbeam snake)
2 – C. ornata (Golden tree snake)
2 – could not identify

Just this morning taking my daughter to school we saw two more Malayan pit vipers and a small black snake, maybe P. korros – we couldn’t stop to check it out.

Thailand Roadcruising Video:

Banded Mangrove Snake – Venomous – Mildly Dangerous

Mangrove cat snake at night in situ, secondary tropical rainforest in Southern Thailand's Krabi province.
One of the B dendrophila snakes I’ve found at night in the tropical secondary rainforest in Southern Thailand, Krabi Province.

Mangrove Cat Snake – Boiga dendrophila

Thais say: Ngoo plong tong

Length: Up to 250 cm

Description: This is a long, strong snake with a rather pronounced vertebral column. The head is black on the top with bright yellow supralabial scales which have black edges, producing a striking effect. The snake is black on the back and laterals with thin yellow bands extending from the venter to usually about mid-body. It is not common for the bands to meet at the top. Ventrals are very dark grey to black except where yellow from the bands. The eyes are large with vertical pupils. The chin and throat are bright yellow. The inside of the mouth is white. Tongue is dark grey to black. Juveniles of this species are same as the adults.

This snake is nocturnal and arboreal, but can often be found on the ground or in bodies of water as well.

NOTE – there is some danger of misidentifying this species with the deadly Bungarus fasciatus – the Banded Krait.

Range: Thailand-wide. Found in humid forests of all sorts, especially near or in trees above streams or other fresh or saltwater up to 610 meters. They can be found resting in branches in daytime above water in the mangroves or on mountain freshwater streams from 3 meters to 6 meters high.

Habitat: Trees, land, and water – salt and fresh. It sleeps in many different trees including the leaves of mangrove trees in the mangrove, and on large palm trees.

Active Time? Nocturnal.

Food: Frogs, lizards, eggs, fish, and other small animals. They can frequently be seen heading upstream along stream banks looking for frogs at night from dusk to midnight or so.

Defensive Behavior: These snakes curl up in a double-s shape before striking. They are rather quick to bite.

Venom Toxicity: Weak, but with some medically significant envenomations recorded in literature. No confirmed fatalities. B dendrophila is a rear fanged colubrid. The fangs are not large, and it isn’t easy to get a good bite on a human leg or arm where venom can be transferred.  Don’t attempt to hand-hold a snake that is prone to biting.

I know a Burmese man that worked in the snake show in Krabi for years, he was bitten many times by this species while on a boat collecting them in the mangroves. At times after being bitten repeatedly he reported getting a bad headache which relented after 20 minutes or so.

Offspring: Four to fifteen large eggs. Offspring of 35-43 cm hatch after ~12 weeks and strongly resemble adults in coloration and pattern.

Notes: These are great looking snakes with a lot of energy for striking. Unfortunately, their look and their energy make them perfect for use in the snake shows across Thailand. It is not uncommon for these snakes to die in captivity.

Scientific classification: Boiga dendrophila

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Boiga
Species: B. dendrophila

Binomial name: Boiga dendrophila
(Boie, 1827)

Krabi rainforest mangrove cat snake (Boiga dendrophila)

Green Cat Snake – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Adult green cat-eyed snake, Boiga cyanea found in Southern Thailand

Green Cat-eyed Snake – Boiga cyanea

Length: Up to 186 cm

Description: This is a long, slender snake with a vertically compressed body (shallow vertebral ridge). It is overall green, with a blue tint to it. The eyes are large with vertical pupils. The chin and throat are blue-white. The inside of the mouth is black. Young snakes of this species are brown / red hued with a green head.

This snake is nocturnal and arboreal, but can often be found on the ground as well.

 

Range: Thailand-wide. Found in evergreen forests, but also found in housing developments. The first one of this species that I found was on my porch at midnight, using my motorbike to reach higher on the windows for geckos. When I followed it, it climbed a small tree and rested about 2.5 meters high until I left the area. Found in a variety of forest types up to 2,100 meters.

Habitat: Bushes and trees.  This snake is an excellent climber.

Active Time? Nocturnal.

Food: Geckos and other lizards appear to be its primary food source, but they will also eat small mammals, birds, eggs, other snakes, and frogs.

Defensive Behavior: I have not seen this snake strike often, they calm down with gentle handling very quickly. Usually they are very calm.

Venom Toxicity: Weak or none. Rear fanged, and the fangs are small and it is not easy for the snake to get a good grip to chew in the venom. That said, at least one instance of significant envenomation has been recorded. Don’t attempt to hand-hold a snake that is biting.

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 misidentification of a small non-venomous B. cyanea with one of the venomous green vipers.

Scientific classification: Boiga cyanea

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Boiga
Species: B. cyanea

Binomial name: Boiga cyanea
(Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854)

White Bellied Rat Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

White Bellied Rat Snake – Ptyas fusca

Thai: ngoo sing thai

Length: up to 290 cm

Description: Fusca comes from the latin, fuscus, meaning dark or dusky. In adults, the body and head are brown. The head is long and distinct. The head resembles Ptyas korros quite a bit, unless they are side-by-side, I don’t think I could tell them apart by head shape. Eyes are large and pupils are round. There is occasionally a red stripe down the vertebral column. Some light banding can be seen laterally in some snakes. The tail can be black. There is a black lateral stripe that stands in contrast to the whitish of the venter, unlike other rat snakes.

In juveniles of this species, the head, neck, and almost to mid-body can be a green tint. There can also be a noticeable pattern / banding that disappears with age.

Range: This rat snake has been found in Peninsular Thailand in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Krabi, Trang, and Phang-Nga provinces. It is likely resident in many forests in Southern Thailand.

Habitat: Found in primary and secondary evergreen forest and rubber plantations.

Behavior:  This snake is terrestrial and diurnal, sleeping at night on tree branches. When disturbed it raised up vertically and holds position, almost like a cobra. I have also seen this snake do this on the sides of roads to look up over the grass to see if the coast is clear to cross.

Active Time? Diurnal.

Food: Primary prey is birds, rodents, and lizards..

Defensive Behavior: Quick strikes, not necessarily from a coiled position or S-shape. After some handling, some of these snakes will calm down and cease striking.

Venom Toxicity: No fangs to deliver venom.

Danger: No danger from venom, but these are biting snakes that may inflict some lacerations / puncture wounds.

Offspring: Oviparous.

Notes: I have not caught this snake in Southern Thailand yet, but I have seen them occasionally on the side of the road. I have also handled one in captivity. They are quite different looking from the other rat snakes of the area.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Ptyas
Species: P. fusca

Binomial name: Ptyas fusca
(Günther, 1858)