Category Archives: Non-venomous

Red Tailed Pipe Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Red Tailed Pipe Snake from Thailand
Red Tailed Pipe Snake – non venomous – small. The white – black pattern of half stripes is the belly. The top is completely black.

The red-tailed pipe snake is a beautiful snake, though at first glance you might wonder if it is a snake at all! It has a very flat appearance for the tail region, and very black on the top. The head is so small you might think it’s a large fat worm. The eyes are very small. This snake spends a lot of time in the dirt looking for grubs, maggots, and very small larvae and things.

Cylindrophis ruffus ruffus (Red Tailed Pipe Snake)

Thais say: (ngoo kon kob)

Length: max about .9 meters (90 cm, 35.5 inches)

Range: All over Thailand on flat ground and at some elevation up to 1700 meters.

Notes: I had one of these red-tailed pipe snakes at my home to photograph and shoot video of for two days. They are beautiful snakes. Their top is black and has a radiance like a sunbeam snake – you know that rainbow appearance when the sunlight hits it? Beautiful. Then, on the underside the bands of black and white don’t line up – so it’s very different. The bands will turn red and black as the juvenile red tailed pipe snake ages. The head is very small and the eyes – almost impossible to see.

Habitat: The snake lives on the ground and in rat holes and termite mounds, under stumps or rocks and in other cool, damp places. I find them in a tangle of roots in the water sometimes.

Active Time? The snake is mostly nocturnal and is active at night.

Food: Brahminy blind snakes, insect larvae, small frogs and worms.

Defensive Behavior: This pipe snake hides the head under loops of it’s body and flips it’s red tail end up in the air – flattening it – as if like a cobra. Thais call this the 2-head snake because it wants you to think it has two. In an hour of handling this snake, it made no move to bite at all. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but they are not all that inclined to bite. Their mouth is VERY small and they’d have to catch you just right to bite you.

Venom Toxicity: None that affects humans.

Offspring: This snake has 5-10 young, born live, about 20 cm long (about 8 inches).

Red Tailed Pipe Snake’s Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Cylindrophiidae
Genus: Cylindrophis
Species: C. ruffus

Binomial name
Cylindrophis ruffus
Classified by Laurenti in year 1768

Belly and Tail of Red Tailed Pipe Snake native to Thailand
Belly side.
Top of Red Tailed Pipe Snake in Thailand
The top of this snake is completely black and patternless. The body is relatively flat shaped, and can be made very flat when it chooses.

Red Tailed Pipe Snake video:

Laotian Wolf Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Laotian Wolf Snake (Lycodon Laoensis) Native to Thailand
Laotian Wolf Snake. Less than a meter long, non-venomous, but quick to bite. These snakes are common all over Thailand.

When I say the “Laotian Wolf Snake” is “not dangerous” I mean, it’s not going to kill you or send you to the intensive care unit of a Thai hospital. But, though this snake isn’t venomous it does have a biting problem. It bites very fast because it’s small and thin – and doesn’t give much warning when it strikes – unlike some other snakes – mangrove snakes, or monocled cobras.

Caution: There is another, highly venomous – and deadly, snake that looks similar to this harmless wolf snake. It is the yellow Banded Krait. It has thick yellow and black bands, and can grow to about 2 meters long. See this krait page >

There is another snake that you might think resembles this one. It’s called a mangrove snake. This is a type of cat snake, and it has some venom, and bites hard and deep. Here is video: Mangrove snake striking.

Lycodon laoensis (Laotian Wolf Snake)

Thai: (ngoo plong chanwan lao, or ngoo kan plong)

Length: Up to about .5 meters (50 cm, or 19 inches).

Range: All over Thailand.

Notes: These are ground dwelling snakes. They are rather shy and like to hide under things. They are easily eaten by predators because they have no strong defense (venom). Laotian Wolf Snakes prefer mountains and hilly regions but also can be found close to dwellings at times.

Active Time? Night & evenings cruising through leaf litter or just sitting on a porch curled up and waiting for a gecko to walk by.

Food: Small insects, frogs, small geckos.

Defensive Behavior: Pretty calm until they are scared or angry. They bite fast, and repeatedly. Their mouth is very small so you wouldn’t end up with much of a bite, but be cautious anyway.

Venom Toxicity: No venom that affects humans. But, as with any bite, if you’re bitten and it affects you – get to the hospital. You may be allergic to it.

Offspring:

Laotian Wolf Snake classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Lycodon
Species: L. laoensis

Binomial classification: Lycodon laoensis

Laotian Wolf Snake video:

Copperheaded Racer Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

These snakes can be more yellow and brown. This one is quite orange colored.

The Copperheaded Racer snakes are so named because their head is copper colored. Though much of the body of this snake is also copper colored, there are also more yellow and brown color variations among this species. These snakes have no relation to the highly venomous “copperhead” snakes of America, and elsewhere. Thailand’s Copperheaded Racers are large rat snakes that feed heavily on large rodents and are frequently found near houses and markets where a rat population exists. These snakes will rarely bite you if you are walking by, but if you are pursuing a copperheaded racer – it will turn and move toward you with many folds in it’s neck, ready to strike. See the video below of the large 2 meter + racer I found crossing a Thai highway in southern Thailand.

There is another rat snake – the Common Malayan Racer that is a much darker color, but very much resembles the Copperheaded Racer. It generally will not bite even if handled.

Coelognathus radiatus, usually referred to as the Copperheaded Racer, Rat Snake, or Jumping Snake

Thai: Ngoo tang ma-prow ly keet

Appearance: A copper colored head with black lines on the top and neck, leading into some lateral lines that run down some of the length of the body. This snake often looks yellow as the dominant color. Because this snake is rather large it has a large mouth to match.

Length: Up to 230 cm (about 7 feet maximum). They can get as thick as an adult male’s wrist. Obviously thicker if they just ate.

Range: All over Thailand and many countries in Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Copperheaded racers are ground-dwelling snakes and prefer to live where rats are. Anywhere rats are. These snakes can be found at some altitude (1500m) as well as sea-level.

Notes: These snakes bite at the slightest provocation. They strike repeatedly, but eventually tire. The Cobra show in Ao Nang, Thailand uses these snakes in a demonstration because they are great strikers. I’ve only seen these racers on the ground – not climbing anything.

Active Time? Diurnal – daytime. Occasionally found active at night.

Food: Rats, mice, lizards, frogs, birds.

Natural Enemies: King cobras seem to prefer these and other rat snakes, probably because the teeth are not large and they cannot inflict any damage on the cobras.

Defensive Behavior: They will come at you if you’re bothering them, with a raised head – vertically inflated neck, and open mouth. See video of one crossing road and coming at me. They love to strike, and the big ones can reach over a meter when striking. If they can’t deter the aggressor they roll over and play dead with their tongue hanging out. If they can get away they are very fast snakes on the ground.

Venom Toxicity: Venom in the saliva, but no means to deliver it with fangs – no fangs at all.

Offspring: No info.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Coelognathus
Species: C. Radiatus
Binomial name: Coelognathus radiatus

Video: I Found a Baby Copperheaded Racer Crossing the Road:

Video: Large Copperheaded Racer Crossing the Road – Comes After Me!

Video: Copperheaded Racer Striking

Red Tailed Racer – Non-Venomous – Not Dangerous

Red Tailed Racer Snake, Thailand
Red Tailed Racer – Non-Venomous – Not Dangerous

These Red Tailed Racers are beautiful green snakes with a grey or reddish tail. They are non-venomous but big enough to give you a strong bite. These snakes live for about 15 years on average – if they don’t encounter a predator like the King cobra.

Gonyosoma oxycephalum (Red Tailed Racer)
Discovered by Boie in 1827

Thai: (ngoo kee-ow kub maak)

Length: Max length about 2.5m (7.5+ feet) They are thick like your wrist and very strong, muscled snakes.

Range: All over Thailand.

Habitat: Red Tailed Racers prefer lowland and up to about 750m above sea level in jungle, agricultural (farmed) land, mangrove forests. They spend most of their time in trees and bushes.

Notes: These are common tree snakes that are also found in caves. They have beautiful greens, with white and black mixed in to their main body color. Their belly scales are rough and ideal for climbing trees. Their top scales are smooth. Identified easily by the dark streak across the eyes, and, if you’re close enough – the blue tongue that flickers in and out when aggravated. The tail is not always or even usually red… the ones I’ve seen are grey. They don’t always do well in captivity and can strike at anytime, though usually much more when aggravated first.

Active Time? Daytime.

Food: Rats, mice, birds, bats and lizards.

Natural Enemies: King cobras love to eat Red Tailed Racer snakes!

Defensive Behavior: They flare up their body vertically – not horizontally like the cobras. They puff themselves up vertically and turn this part sideways to you so they can strike fear into you. They do bite when pestered. They can strike from nearly any position, head facing away from you too. Be careful they have strong jaws.

Venom Toxicity: No venom dangerous to humans.

Offspring: Red tailed racers reach sexually maturity at 4 years. Between September and January this snake deposits small clutches of 3-8 eggs that hatch 45cm long baby red tailed racer snakes in 91 to 112 days.

Red Tailed Racer Snake, Non-Venomous, Thailand
We put this snake on the ground to get a full-body shot, usually it would not be on the ground – they much prefer the trees and bushes.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Gonyosoma
Species: G. oxycephalum

Binomial name: Gonyosoma oxycephalum

Video: Red Tailed Racer Eaten by King Cobra:

Sunbeam Snakes – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Sunbeam snakes in Thailand have a rainbow glow to their scales.
Sunbeam snakes in Thailand have a rainbow glow to their scales.

Up until yesterday I’ve only seen small sunbeam snakes – about 15 inches long. They are fat and can be found under plastic or other things in muddy water, or anywhere near water. I found one small sunbeam crossing the street at night during a rain in Sisaket – so I pulled him off the road and up into the brush. Yesterday I saw a 1+ meter snake at a friend’s. The big ones are really impressive. Thick, smooth like glass, and with an unbelievably cool rainbow iridescence that you must see.

Sunbeam snakes get their name because they beam in the sunshine… so to speak. Their scales reflect a luminescence – like a rainbow of colors – and it’s surreal to see a sunbeam snake in the bright sunshine (I have a video for you below, but it doesn’t give justice to the intensity of the rainbow of colors).

Xenopeltis unicolor (Sunbeam Snake)

Thai language: Ngoo sang ateet, Ngoo leu-um deen

Appearance: Sunbeam snakes are thicker than a large banana (with skin) as adults. Their scales are very smooth and the snake has a texture like rubber. Dirt doesn’t appear to stick to the scales. The head is like a shovel blade, tending toward flat. The eyes are small and designed for burrowing in dirt.

Length: Both male and female sunbeams are usually about a meter long with the female growing up to 1.3m for the maximum length (about 4 feet).

Range: All over Thailand. I’ve found them in Trang, Surat, Krabi and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces. Also found all over Southeast Asia from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, to Burma (Myanmar), China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Malaysian Peninsula and over to the Philippines.

Habitat: These snakes love the shallow water, muddy areas where they lie hidden under leaves or junk waiting for nightfall. They can be found close to human habitat as well as any lake or other body of water. They are fossorial – meaning, they hide under things – like leaves, dirt, just about anything.

Notes: These sunbeam snakes rarely bite. They do not do well in captivity and quickly die because they get stressed out. If you keep one – be sure to have soft substrate they can burrow (dig) into to cover themselves. They need cool shade and water. Don’t put them in the sun for long.

Active Time? Nocturnal – night.

Food: Frogs mostly, lizards, geckos, and other snakes. Sunbeam snakes kill prey by squeezing (constricting) it like a python.

Natural Enemies: King cobras and kraits would probably eat these snakes, though I don’t have evidence that they do.

Defensive Behavior: Curl tail. Rarely bite. Very low-key, mellow snakes if you’re not provoking them. They move very slow and their scales are good for water but not so great for street, rocks, and other hard smooth surfaces.

Venom Toxicity: None. No danger to humans except possibly a strong bite if you anger it. I’ve heard about only one person ever being bitten by this snake. It just doesn’t typically happen.

Offspring: Little is known. Tough to keep very long – they die quickly in captivity.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Infraorder: Alethinophidia
Family: Xenopeltidae
Genus: Xenopeltis

Binomial name: Xenopeltidae Xenopeltis

Classification by Reinwardt, 1827

Sunbeam Snake Photo:

Body of sunbeam snake in Thailand - brown, thick and iridescent scales.
The photos and video don\’t do the colors justice – you really have to see the sunbeam snake to believe it.

My Sunbeam Snake Video:

Ridley’s Racer – Cave Snake – Not Venomous

Cave snake - Ridleys Racer - Othriophis taeniurus ridleyi - Thailand
Othriophis taeniurus ridleyi. Ridleys Racer. Non-venomous. Lives in caves, eats bats.

Othriophis taeniurus ridleyi (Ridley’s Racer)

Length: up to 2.5 meters. I have caught eight of these, all of them under 2.25 meters.

Range: Chumpon, Thailand, south to border of Thailand-Malaysia

Habitat: Usually caves, though at times found outside caves. Recently I found a number of them in a bungalow at a nature resort and an empty wooden cabin in a rubber plantation. Then someone wrote me to ID one that was climbing around the limestone cliffs in Krabi.

Active Time? The snake is mainly nocturnal. They are active during the day only after heavy rainfall, or inside caves.

Food: Bats, birds, and maybe even rats if they happened to be on the ground.

Defensive Behavior: These Thailand snakes are calm and move slowly unless provoked substantially.

Venom Toxicity: None. Member of rat snake group – so their saliva probably contains venom, but they have no venom injecting fangs in the front or rear. They have rows of teeth in the upper jaw, but very small – less than 1/4th inch long.

Offspring: Nothing known – still updating this article.

Notes: These are often found in Thailand caves, they are excellent wall climbers. A Buddhist monk walked me through some pitch black caves at a temple with a cave in Southern Thailand and showed me this amazingly colored Ridley’s Racer pictured above. This non-venomous snake, part of the rat snake family was calm and let me take video with the camera just 12 inches from her head. Ridley racer snakes hang on cave walls and snatch flying bats out of the air.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Othriophis
Species: taeniurus ridleyi

Ridley’s Racer Video:

Here is another video taken by a visitor from France that was climbing a mountain at a local Buddhist temple and saw this snake during the daytime cruising the limestone rocks:

Gonglyosoma balliodeira – Orange Bellied Snake

Gonglyosoma balliodeira from the side. Copyright 2013 Vern Lovic.

 

Gonglyosoma balliodeira belly color. Copyright 2013 Vern Lovic.

 

Gonglyosoma balliodeira top-down view.  Copyright 2013 Vern Lovic.

Gonglyosoma / Gonglyosoma balliodeira

Rupert Lewis from the United Kingdom was out herping in Thailand a couple nights ago and came upon this little beauty. It’s Gonglyosoma balliodeira 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.

Rupert had an illustration he found in a book that identified it as Gonglyosoma, 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.

Video of Gonglyosoma balliodeira:

Burmese Python with Darker Color Profile

Burmese Python - Python bivittatus. Copyright 2011, Elliot Pelling - used with permission.

Snakes come in all different colors. Even snakes of the same species can have quite different coloration depending on region, or sometimes just living next to each other in Thailand’s wild.

This is a Burmese Python sent to me by a friend. Quite dark compared to most I’ve seen here in Southern Thailand.

Recently a reader sent me some photos of a snake that very nearly bit him on one of the islands of Koh Phi Phi. When I looked at it – it was unmistakable what it was – a mangrove pit viper. However, it was brown tinted – quite brown. The guy verified it was brown, and not just a camera quirk. I’ve only seen them in a purple shade and with some yellow. Never brown.

Goes to show you that it is very difficult to identify the 200 some snakes native to Thailand. It’s downright impossible many times from the photos I get. Even snakes I catch, some biologists cannot figure out what snake it is.

Please…

PLEASE… do not touch snakes if you are not 100% sure what it is – and only if it is non-venomous. There are many snakes that have venom in Thailand – but that are classified as non-venomous, because typically they are not dangerous to man. If you happen to be allergic to the venom though – guess what? You could be in anaphylactic shock before you know it.

Recently a “non-venomous” snake put a teenager in the Bangkok hospital in Phuket for 2 weeks with failing kidneys.

Be careful with snakes – all snakes – there are some that are quite obvious what they are, and there are others that I cannot figure out… and there are some that the biologists cannot figure out.

Malayan Bridle Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Malayan Bridle Snake - Dryocalamus subannulatus - Not Dangerous

Name: Dryocalamus subannulatus.

I am not 100% on this ID, it could also be a Common Bridle Snake or a Laotian Wolf Snake.

Length: 70cm – measured

Description: This is a thin snake the thickness of a finger. It has black blobs, that can almost be called stripes when looked at from overhead. From the side, as you can see in the image above, the black spots are more like circles stretched out across the body. Further down the snake’s body the stripes change substantially and are completely different in appearance – see 2nd photo below. The eyes of this snake are rather large compared to the very small head. The head is slightly smaller than the neck of the snake. There are two very small rear-fangs seen upon inspection of the mouth. The head of this snake is not elongated in a long triangle like the Lycodon family of snakes – so I’m going with Bridle snake. However, the striking behavior of these snake is identical to Lycodon – in particular the Laotian Wolf Snakes. So, possibility exists that it is that snake, and not a Malayan Bridle Snake.

Range: Thailand’s south and Malaysia. This snake was found in Krabi province.

Habitat: Bushes, trees, and dwellings. This snake is not as common as the Laotian Wolf Snake, but likes the same kind of habitat. Searches trees and structures for geckos primarily. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush.

Active Time? Mostly nocturnal.

Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily.

Defensive Behavior: Very inaccurate strikers. They strike almost randomly, just to scare off whatever is bothering them. I’ve been struck at repeatedly and never had her connect with teeth.

Venom Toxicity: Weak or none. Ineffective for humans if there is any venom. The fangs are quite minute – less than the diameter of a regular stick pin.

Offspring: Nothing known about this area.

Notes: These are great snakes, feisty at first, and then, as they get used to people – can be handheld without striking. There is a very real danger of mistaking these harmless snakes with a Malayan, Many Banded, or Banded krait – all of which are deadly. Kraits can get bigger than 1 meter. This snake, and the other harmless black and white banded snakes – will not get over 70cm generally.

Scientific classification: Dryocalamus subannulatus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Dryocalamus
Species: D. subannulatus

Mid-body photo of Malayan Bridle Snake to show the difference of the stripes in the tail. Here you can see more clearly the true color of the snake which is brown and white, not black and white as might be assumed from the other image.

Video of this Malayan Bridle Snake from Southern Thailand:

Striped Bronzeback Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Dendrelaphis caudolineatus – Not Venomous – Not Dangerous

“Dendrelaphis caudolineatus” (Striped bronzeback snake)

Length: Up to about 1.5 meters. The males are a bit more red on top, and slightly thinner.

Range: The Striped Bronzeback is found in southern Thailand through the Malaysian Peninsula, and to Singapore, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and the Philippines. The snake shown here was caught in Tub Kaak, Krabi Province in southern Thailand.

Habitat: Forests and lowlands up to about 1,500 meters. They are found on trees primarily, and often on the ground too in search of prey.

Active Time? Diurnal – daylight.

Food: Frogs, lizards, some say small birds in the nest.

Defensive Behavior: A quick bite – coiled beforehand, or not. I was bitten when I grabbed his tail when I first saw him. I expected it. He caused a little blood on the top of my pointer finger by the big knuckle. There are a couple small bumps there now. I experienced no serious symptoms.

Venom Toxicity: No venom. No danger.

Offspring:

Notes: Striped bronzeback snakes are somewhat larger than the other bronzebacks, and can get up to about 1.5 meters. The one in the photo and video below was caught at about 300 meters elevation (900+ feet) on a fallen tree. I stepped over the tree and the snake fell to the ground and attempted to hide under another rotting tree stump. I had to decide in about 1 second whether the snake was venomous and whether I could step lightly on his tail to stop him from disappearing. I saw the tell-tale head shape and stripe down the side and knew it was a bronzeback, but there are about 6 species of bronzeback in Thailand. I hadn’t caught one of these until today.

These snakes are diurnal – active during daylight hours and are excellent climbers, as all bronzebacks are. They are twitchy snakes, and this one bit me when I first grabbed him. I had to pull him off my index finger slowly to prevent injuring him. He bit down hard for his tiny size (about 10 inches). These snakes love frogs and other small animals – geckos included.

This species of bronzeback has a black stripe on a light background running from it’s neck to it’s tail. The belly is white or yellowish. This snake does not have the stripe across the eye like some of the other bronzebacks. The top of the head is brown – bronze color as is the top of this snake’s back.

The eye is large, like a rat snake, and the head is long almost like a whip snake, but wider in comparison to the body. Unlike other bronzebacks, the vertebral scales are not enlarged but are narrow in shape. Its lower cheeks and lips are pale yellow with small black marks or stripes running vertically near the snout.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Dendrelaphis
Species: D. caudolineatus

“Dendrelaphis caudolineatus”
(Discovered by Gray in the year 1834)

Striped Bronzeback Snake Video: