Category Archives: Thailand Snake Journal

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.

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:

Common Keelback – Thailand Snake Journal

Two of my friends went out and caught what we think is a common keelback (Xenochrophis flavipunctatus) snake in a pond. It got away from them once, and headed right back into an adjacent water pond.

Thailand keelback snakes love water.

Common keelback photo and video:

Thailand Common Keelback Video:

Thailand Snake Journal – Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute

Small boy learning about Burmese Python in Bangkok Snake Show - Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute.
Brave boys with a Burmese Python at Queen Saovabha Memorial Center, Bangkok, Thailand.

Yesterday I went to the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute created by the Thai Red Cross Society in Bangkok, Thailand. Doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with snakes – does it?

It’s all about snakes in Thailand actually. This institute is located on the or next to the Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital – a very prestigious hospital in Thailand.

Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute
The Thai Red Cross Society

1871 Rama IV Road, Phathumwan
Bangkok, Thailand 10330
Tel: 022.520.1614 or 1617
www.saovabha.or.th
Email: qsmi@webmail.redcross.or.th

The cost was 200 Thai baht to get in and see the snakes. There is an outdoor display area where there were a couple of non-native snake species like a python from South America. The king cobra exhibit was under renovations. There were some green anacondas, also native to South America. I’ll use some of the photos of the Javan File Snake and striped keelbacks on the appropriate snake pages inside the site here. In total, outside were about 12 types of snakes.

Inside the snake institute were snakes in glass tubes that were dead and illuminated with light. The colors of the snakes were all washed away due to the chemicals used to preserve them. That wasn’t so helpful. The red-necked keelback, a very common Thailand snake, was in one of these bottles and was white. These are one of the most colorful snakes Thailand has in the country. It was sad to see them as white and void of color. Misleading quite a bit too if you don’t know all the white snakes have a lot of color.

On the second floor of the institute building were some educational displays designed to teach people the basics about Thailand snakes.

The best part of the visit to the “snake farm” as it’s called on signs there, was the snake handling for a small crowd of about thirty of us. There were many children in the audience and they had a good time touching the snakes and holding a Burmese Python that was tame – captive bred, and didn’t bite at all.

The snake handlers showed us banded yellow kraits, a spunky king cobra, the Burmese Python, a green white-lipped pit viper, and a monocled cobra – a large specimen.

The presenter spoke constantly in Thai and good English to give as much information as possible in the 30 minute show. It was a good experience and I learned something… pythons are bigger than anacondas. See, everyone can learn something…

I recommend you visit this snake farm if you have a chance in Bangkok. It is not really as nice as I expected, and there is a limited number of live snakes in the displays – maybe 30 types? They say there are more than 200 species of snake in Thailand and over 60 of them are venomous. Why do they only show about 30 of them? I guess I wanted this place to exceed my expectations and have all the snakes of Thailand represented. Sounds like something someone should do at some point.

Thailand has a lot of amazing snake species which you can find out a lot about by visiting this center, and other snake places across the country. And, don’t forget this site, of course.

Schedule for Demonstrations:

Hours: Monday – Friday 0830 – 1630
Snake House Visitation:  0930 – 1530
Venom Extraction: 1100
Snake Handling: 1430
Sat / Sun / Holidays open:  0930 – 1300
Snake Handling: 1100

Map to Queen Saovabha Snake Farm:
(click to enlarge)

Queen Saovabha Snake Farm Map - Bangkok, Thailand
Click Snake Farm map to enlarge.

Video of King Cobra Handling Exhibition at Queen Saovabha Snake Farm:

Herping Southern Thailand – 5 Snakes + 1 Bonus

Boiga dendrophila. Mangrove cat-eyed snake. Southern Thailand. Boiga dendrophila. Mangrove cat-eyed snake. Bungarus candidus. Malayan krait, Blue krait. Lycodon albofuscus. Lycodon albofuscus

Last night I got out to go herping with Anders from Denmark and Rupert from the UK. We went to the usual spot, I arrived at 6:20pm. As I was pulling into the parking lot I saw a small (30cm) bronzeback snake coming across the dirt road. I slowed, stopped and jumped out with a snake bag in my hand, intending on trapping him with it before grabbing him. I hate being bitten by anything – even a harmless snake. It’s no good for the snake either as they can lose teeth when they bite forcibly.

The snake had other plans and reversed course immediately disappearing into the thick brush as I ran after it helplessly. This one was smart.

Met up with the guys and took some photos of the Lycodon albofuscus Rupert had brought over for a show and tell. He said it was the snake he had the hardest time with for photos – and hoped to get better ones. We did, it was exceptionally calm this night and we both got some great shots.

We grabbed some water and headed out for 3 hour herp that turned up nothing. Well not nothing, we saw numerous lizards and geckos, some cool frogs, bats, spiders, but no snakes. I was out in front of the other 3 guys (Richard came as well), and headed up to the pools of water to see what I could find.

It wasn’t long before – Bang – I saw a common wolf snake (Lycodon) cruising up a rock beside me, then down to hit the walkway… I followed him for a while, just looking at him closely. I’ve caught so many of these snakes I don’t bother with photos. It’s a pain to drag the camera out of the bag and set it up. I’d have had to stop the snake from his journey to get my stuff ready. As it turns out, Rupert wanted to see a good specimen of that snake, and wanted better photos – but I didn’t know at the time. Oops.

Walked some more and Bang – a mangrove cat snake of maybe a meter and some in the palm tree above me about 20 feet high. I yelled SNAKE and tried to get the other guys attention. As I did I was shining my torch (flashlight) on the restaurant where they had gone back to eat. Bang – another big mangrove cat snake swimming in the moonlight. Wow… I love to see that. Wish I had a video of it, but it happened too quickly. He came right over to the bank below me. I crept down and grabbed him with the tongs and by the tail with my hand and picked him up onto the sidewalk.

He was big and lively – 2 meters easy, thick like my wrist and almost my forearm. Beautiful snake. Photos here are of that snake.

We shot some photos and a quick video and kept going. It was about 11pm (2300 hrs) when Rupert yelled “KRAIT” from down in the rocks. We all got down there immediately and were rewarded with a 1 m+ Blue krait (Malayan krait), the Bungarus candidus. Most venomous terrestrial snake in Thailand – as long as there are no Bungarus multicinctus running around in the north, which I suspect there must be.

We shot photos and videos and then shortly after, called it a night.

I get a message this morning on my phone from Rupert…

“Hey vern, I wasn’t tired when you left last night so I went out alone and caught a very rare snake. I put it in the backup box I brought. Even more reason for you to come out today. Could be a new subspecies or even a new species in itself!”

I can’t believe the nerve of that guy! Going out without me! I thought he was going to go sleep…

Anyway, so looks like I’d better get out there today and see what he found.

Come to Thailand to check out the reptiles, amphibians, birds, whatever it is you’re into. This place is paradise for nature lovers.

Tonight we’ll go to another 2 different mountains that I rarely get to herp at. Should be a blast. Will post photos, videos, if we get something.

Cheers,

Vern

Golden Tree Snake – One of Thailand’s Most Common

Golden Tree Snake - non-venomous snake in Thailand on a lunch table.

A reader wrote in to have a snake identified – and he sent an awesome photo that I wanted to share. The snake is a very common tree snake, called a Golden Tree Snake. They are excellent climbers and you’ll see them on palm trees, and in the ceilings of houses and bungalows – often. They have a strange skill. When they jump from a high tree – they can glide horizontally through the air – and land unharmed. They are sometimes called a “Flying Snake”.

These snakes are common, but, uncommonly fast. They are super-fast, whether on the ground in brush, or climbing something. They are excellent climbers and you won’t believe how fast they can climb.

Anyway – here is some information about this snake submitted by the copyright owner of this image – Kim Briers.

Dear,

Hope you can help me identify next snake…It looks a bit like a green tree snake but I didn t wanna take any risks handling it…shame as i wanted to make a picture with some green background…

1. Location in Thailand – city, area the snake was seen

KOH YAO YAI

2. Environment found? Near water? In a Tree? On the ground? Under wood or something? On a wall? On the roof?

It was hiding inside a lantern of the hotel resort. We lifted the lantern and it came out really very fast and move up the table.

3. Estimate snake length and girth (thickness) of snake – was it thick as your finger? Arm? Calf? Thigh?

About 1 meter in length – girth, about 4cm

4. Found during night or daylight? What time?

Around 9.30 am at breakfast

5. If no photo is sent by email please describe the colors of the snake, patterns, anything you can remember.

6. Did the snake attempt to strike at you?

Not really but it was in strike position and could jump pretty well and was really fast. I was hoping it would move in a tree or so to make a nice natural shot but it was so so fast and disappeared under some stones…

Malayan Pit Viper Venom – Acts Fast!

I showed a video at youtube (here) of a Malayan Pit Viper striking a mouse behind it – very fast. You can’t see how quickly the mouse dies, because the snake never let go of it. I saw it, being there up close, and I could have sworn it was dead in seconds.

I just found a new video uploaded at YT by a guy I’ve known online for a little while, showing an adult Malayan Pit Viper striking a mouse and paralyzing it immediately. It’s uncanny how fast the venom acted to paralyze this mouse!

I was out herping with a couple of friends the other night. We found a small (2m) Dog Toothed Cat Snake, as well as a juvenile Malayan Pit Viper. The Malayan was laying right across the path and didn’t move as my friends approached. Good thing they saw it – it was pitch black, and one of their flashlights (torches, brits say) was fading. I’m very glad they saw it.

Malayan Pit Vipers kill more people in Thailand than any other snake does. The kraits are a close second. Identification of kraits is a bit difficult, so sometimes the banded kraits are called “Malayan Kraits” or “Blue Kraits” and vice versa.

Many people, after a bite from a Malayan pit viper – will not seek medical treatment. This is a contributor to the high death rates resulting from bites from this snake.

If you are bitten by a snake and you don’t know what it is – get to the hospital and try to ID it from there. Many hospitals have books you can thumb through – with photos.

I’m in the middle of creating an ebook with Thailand’s snakes, that I’ll either give away – or charge 99 cents for, so it will make identification easier and less harmless snakes will be killed out of ignorance.

Ptyas carinata – carinatus – Keeled Rat Snake

I found a lovely specimen of the Ptyas carinata snake on the way down a mountain this evening. It was about 6:45 pm and the sun had set 15 minutes before. I was running down the steps and took a few seconds to breathe – when I saw the snake on some limestone rocks beside me. It was dark, so it was hard to say – was it a king cobra? Kings are good climbers too. Was it a rat snake? I just couldn’t tell for a while. I looked at the tail multiple times (I was grabbing it by that point and trying not to get bitten by the snapping jaws).

The tails of a couple kinds of rat snake look JUST like the king cobra tails.

Eventually I realized it was a rat snake and quickly pulled my shirt off to attempt to locate his head in the pile of branches he was trying to twist though and get lost in.

I grabbed too low once and he twisted around and bit. The shirt was wrapped two times around my hand – so, no damage. It is very hard grabbing a 1.5 meter snake in the dark when you can’t see his head. No flashlight… nothing. Exciting – yes. If it was any bigger – it could have been REALLY exciting because I would have been bitten a couple of times I think.

Ptyas carinata are fast snakes and strong biters. They eat rats for god’s sakes… rats are tough little beasts.

I’ll have a full write up of the snake tomorrow, photos and videos. My good camera is with my wife who is traveling. I’ll have to make do with the iPhone camera. I’ll try to find some good light to shoot photos and video in tomorrow so the media doesn’t totally suck.

Here is the Ptyas carinata video I took of this snake:

Red Headed Krait – Thailand Snake Journal

Red-headed Krait found while herping in Thailand

Yesterday I headed out to herp with a guy from the UK. We chose a jungle that bordered a national park for our adventure and walked around for just over an hour when we came upon a snake climbing up the side of a 5 foot wall of dirt along the path we were walking on. My friend instinctively reached out to grab the tail, I only saw the red tail – and I said loudly and quickly “DON’T TOUCH IT!”

He had seen it first. I had only seen the tail – which was enough for me to call it either a red headed krait (Bungarus flaviceps), or a Blue Coral snake – which also have red tails (Calliophis bivirgatus flaviceps). I was pretty certain I could distinguish a rather pronounced spinal column ridge. After some discussion my friend agreed and we called it a Red Headed Krait. He had seen the snake much more clearly than I did – since he looked at it for 2 seconds before deciding what to do. He said it had a bright red head and blackish/bluish body, then the long red tail that I saw as well. He estimated the length at a meter.

This is the 2nd red headed krait I’ve found in the daytime. It was on the side of a hill in the shade – at 1400 hours and bright sunshine. They are supposed to be primarily nocturnal, like the other Bungarus (Bungari), so others that have seen it have said. Still –  I have seen accounts online of these snakes being found in the daytime as well in Malaysia. I don’t think one can say these are nocturnal animals by any means. They are active by day and at night.

So, back to the story. We climbed the vertical hill and searched through very thick brush for 30 minutes to attempt to get just one more sighting to confirm what we saw, and if at all possible – catch it for some photos and videos. We never got a 2nd chance. In hindsight the krait could not have spun around quickly to bite if one of us had grabbed the tail. The front portion of his body was already in the thick brush. But, at the time there was no way to assess everything – the danger of the situation… and react to catch the snake in a safe manner.

Better to err on the side of caution – right?

But still we’re both dreaming of a lovely red-headed krait that is still running around that hill – and probably very close to where we saw it. We’re putting that spot on the “every time we come here – we check this spot” list, like we know you would too!

We did catch another snake and a VERY odd bug – both of which I’ll write about for tomorrow or in 2 days.

Here are two videos of Bungarus flaviceps – the red headed krait…

Video 1 – Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps caught in southern Thailand:

2nd Part of Red Headed Krait video: