Category Archives: Deadly Thailand Snakes

These are the Thailand snakes that can kill you because of their highly toxic venom. This does not include constrictors.

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.

Snake Bite – Red-Necked Keelback – Rhabdophis subminiatus

A couple months back I received an email from a concerned father whose son was bitten by a red-necked keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) he had found in their neighbor’s garden.

“My son is suffering from non clotting, severe swelling, and paralysis and is now in ICU, where his vital and neuro signs are ok, but blood not good.”

These snakes have, in the past, not been identified as a dangerous snake. Many people have them as pets, and free-handle them with bare hands. Sometimes these snakes bite, but once they are handled a bit they usually calm down and rarely bite. There have been some cases in the literature where bites have resulted in hospitalization, and there has been a push to identify these snakes as what they are – venomous, and dangerous.

Colubrids, rear-fanged snakes, are nearly all venomous. Venom is modified saliva that helps the snake kill and break down the body of their chosen food.

I was excited to have a response from the father of this boy that spent 2 weeks in a Thailand hospital after suffering 2 bites from this snake.

Here’s what I learned after some questions by email…

1. Can you tell anything about how the bite occurred? Was the snake typically calm – and then, out of the ordinary behavior – it bit your son?

Calm, he was showing off to his friend’s that he can handle snakes, this was a wild one not a pet. He has a constrictor, a corn snake and a python as pets, all fairly placid, but the keelback he had no understanding of.

2. Approximately how long did the snake bite down on your son’s hand? Was it less than 1 second? 1-3 seconds? 3-5? 10? 60 or more? This is the most important question because in the past we haven’t seen enough venom transferred from quick bites, or even repetitive quick bites…

Between 30-40sec I believe, wouldn’t let go

3. Did the snake bite more than once that day?

Bit him twice within a few minutes.

4. Did the snake routinely bite your son – often?

First time.

5. Can you tell me approximately how long was the snake? Do you have any photos of it? Can you please send if you do?

No photo’s I’m afraid, he didn’t mention how long it was, but he will be back from school at the weekend, and I’ll fish more info out of him.

6. Did you get the snake in Thailand? There in Phuket, or where?

Wild snake in his friend’s garden.

*******

So, here again – the snake bit down for an extended period of time – 30+ seconds, and had time to squeeze a lot of venom into the boy’s hand.

There is no known anti-venin for the Rhabdophis subminiatus.

Venom Characteristics (from http://www.afpmb.org/content/venomous-animals-r#Rhabdophissubminiatus)

Mainly procoagulants, which can cause renal failure; plus mild neurotoxic factors. Envenomation does not always occur. Bite may be almost painless w/ minimal local swelling. Symptoms of envenomation may include local numbness, headache, nausea, & vomiting; in severe cases renal failure has caused human deaths. No known antivenom currently produced.

LD50 for intravenous injection – 1.29 mg/kg. That is extremely venomous…

This snake has no actual venom gland, but the venom resides in the saliva itself, and with a long bite – can envenomate a person, causing great harm.

King Cobra featured image

Fastest King Cobra on the Planet? (Video)

It’s a sensational headline, but I thought it was important that you read this if you handle venomous snakes at all – and even if you don’t. (King cobra video below)

I got a call from my friend this morning. He told me they caught a 2+ meter king cobra at a palm plantation the night before. He said it was super fast.

King Cobras are fast when young…

Well, my first thought was – when they’re young and smaller like that – under 3-4 meters – yeah, they are quite quick. The juveniles up until about 2 meters are usually fast. I have yet to work personally with a king cobra less than 2.5 meters. I want to – but, will respect their speed a lot more. The juvenile king cobras are like a completely different snake than the big ones. They move differently – darting their heads around constantly, and very fast and short motions. The bigger kings are more deliberate in their movements and are much slower, even when straight from the wild. Not to call them slow – but, you can work with them to some degree without dying.

I took the motorbike over to see the snake after lunch. My friend was sleeping on a bench. I woke him up with a clamp down on his foot – as if a snake bit him. He didn’t jump or anything, so I was disappointed my trick didn’t work. No matter – he woke right up and showed me the beast.

He told me it had eaten 2 red tailed racers that morning, both of which were about 2 meters in length – but thin. I figured the king would be a bit slow and conserving energy as it digested all that food. I was so wrong.

This king cobra was black with light bands – very light, I wouldn’t call the bands yellow- they were more like a yellow/green. It was under 2.5 meters and over 2.0. It had a very long hood – and was really gorgeous to look at. My friend always goes the extra mile… when he opened up the gate and showed him his face we got a big surprise from this snake.

See the video of this super fast Ophiophagus hannah below:

This king came up that tree stump faster than any snake I’ve ever seen. Not that I’ve seen it all – however, I have seen many fast snakes – rat snakes of all sorts, tree snakes, big, small, thin and fast… and no snake has ever pulled one of these maneuvers on me.

I wanted to post this to give you an idea that you “think you know a snake” – but then one will do something you’ve never seen before. This has happened to me often as I learn more about monocled and king cobras. I’ve probably spent 100 hours working with them and studying them – watching other people work with them. I learned a whole lot in the first 50 hours and still, I’m always learning new behaviors and what these snakes are capable of.

Every snake species has a range of behaviors that they can exhibit. Snake handlers know, in general, what a snake is capable of – because it’s a certain species. However, there are snakes within the species, that, for whatever reason – learned behaviors that are different from most of the other snakes – and when they exhibit them – it can surprise the hell out of you.

Be careful with venomous snakes of all sorts – and never take them for granted.

Smallest Deadly Snake in Thailand?

Thailand monocled cobra baby on the road.

The baby cobras, kraits, Malayan pit vipers, and coral snakes can all kill you just like the adults of their species. Though they don’t have as much venom, or fangs with tubes wide enough to transfer as much venom as an adult, they need not to. Usually a snake like this can inject more than enough to kill a person.

Some adult Malayan pit vipers are only 60 centimeters or so. That’s not a big snake. Big enough to kill you though.

Take all snake bites seriously and get to the hospital as fast as possible after being bitten. Don’t wait for pain or other symptoms, some snake venom doesn’t give many symptoms at all at first.

Hope for a “dry-bite” and that no or very little venom was injected!

The Deadly Snake Hardest to Identify in Thailand? Krait.

Malayan Krait, or Blue Krait found in Thailand - a very deadly snake

The Malayan Krait (Bungarus candidus), or the Blue Krait as it’s sometimes called, is difficult to identify, and identifying it is essential because their venom is so deadly. Their venom paralyzes the nervous system and causes the muscles of the body to stop. That means the heart and diaphragm. You’ll need to be on a ventilator to stay alive after a krait bite.

Maybe the hardest to identify deadly snake that you should be aware of is an albino cobra, krait, coral snake, or Malayan pit viper. Albino snakes are not common, but, keep in mind that any white snake that bites you could be quite deadly and you’ll want to get to the hospital immediately. If easy to kill the snake – do so. Don’t risk being bitten again. Take a digital photo of it, or a few – would be better.

The photo above is the Malayan Krait. The photos below are snakes that are completely harmless. Keep in mind that Malayan Krait babies look just like these smaller innocuous snakes.

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 there are many snakes that can kill you within an hour if you can’t get medical care.

I guess the King Cobra, if it got a good bite on you – would be the worst. I have a friend who lost his little brother (adult brother) to a King bite on the chest that killed him in just 10 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.

I always have one with me – I am slightly asthmatic so, in this case it’s a good thing.

Most Likely Venomous To Bite You? Malayan Pit Viper

Brown Malayan Pit Viper in Thailand. These are deadly snakes if you don't get immediate treatment.

The Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) is the venomous (bad) snake that is most likely to bite you. They have the habit of lying in the short or long grass and just waiting for prey to walk by. If human footsteps are coming close – it doesn’t attempt to move, it just sits there.

This is why the Malayan Pit Viper is the cause of most of the serious bites in Thailand, and Malaysia. They just don’t get out of the way, or flare up a hood or anything. They are what we call lazy snakes, and they’re quite deadly too. This snake is responsible for more deaths in Thailand than any other.

However, if you make it to the hospital for the anti-venin quickly you will likely be fine. Some herpetologists call the Malayan pit viper the “finger rotters”. Their venom is cytotoxic and destroys all cells of the body – including bone. Their venom dissolves bone… it’s quite harsh stuff and you DON’T want to be bitten by this snake because you’ll likely lose part of whatever what bitten.

These Thailand snakes are most active during the night time, but, they seem to just sleep in the open grass during the day too. BE CAREFUL NOT TO STEP NEAR THIS SNAKE. Their bite is vicious and fangs go deep.