Category Archives: Thailand Snake Journal

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:

Yellow Spotted Keelback – Thailand Snake Journal

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

Thailand keelback snakes love water.

Yellow spotted keelback photo and video:

Thailand Yellow Spotted Keelback Video:


 

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:

Found a New Snake – Is It Oligodon inornatus?

Here it looks almost like Ptyas korros, but, the head is very small and the eyes - not so big.

This one is interesting… I found it at the top of a small limestone mountain. It’s like a keelback, and like a Ptyas korros. A juvenile. Green – dark green on top – solid pattern, no fluctuation. Bottom is dark grey. It’s about 1 foot long. Will get some photos and video and put them up as soon as I get the camera back from my wife!

Ok, below are pics – and I’ll get a video up on Youtube in a few…

It’s like a skinny yellow bellied water snake with a dark grey belly, not yellow.

 

Have a look at the video at Youtube (embedded below in a few minutes) and see if you can figure it out…

Gerwot from Germany said it was in the genus Oligodon. That seems right on. He showed me how to do a scale count and I got 15’s. If this is the Oligodon inornatus it might be a new snake for this area. Some lit has the range as northern Thailand and southeastern Thailand. No idea what southeastern Thailand refers to. Here’s a grab from the PDF referencing the snakes range, and addressing some mistakes in a printed book about snakes…

Thailand Snake Journal – A Big Water Monitor

I did a quick snake-hunt yesterday in the middle of the afternoon sun. I just found myself in proximity to a place I love to climb, a mountain about 50 minutes away by motorbike, and I decided to walk a bit and see what I could find. I found some spiders, lizards – mountain dragons, and saw some giant movement in some bush. I ran ahead and found a 2 meter long monitor there… this thing is OFTEN there – I don’t know what he’s eating. They eat termites?

I’ve found one snake there before within 10 meters of that spot, maybe it’s a big snake spot – they hide under the leaves or something? I don’t usually rake leaves when I snake hunt, but I might start.

Did you see my water monitor eats snake video at youtube? He listens and hears a snake under the leaves… tracks it and slurps it down his gullet. Great shot!

Here’s the video:

I saw a giant copperheaded racer – 2 meters – crossing the road before I could stop. I also saw a thin black snake about 1.5m that was moving fast across the road… I couldn’t even guess what that one was. It was thin like a striped keelback (in size).

Any guesses from anyone?

I’m working on a big snake project… Not sure it will come to fruition, but I’m giving it my best. Will tell you more in the near future. Cheers!

Thailand Snake Journal – Snake About 600 Feet Up Mountain

I climbed a mountain I often do – it’s very steep. There are steps up it – 1,237 steps. At about step 850 I saw a snake crawling between the limestone rock and the step. I thought I knew what it was, but it was a juvenile – and you know how that goes. Thailand snakes – when they are small, don’t always represent the same thing as when they are older – so I took my time, and ended up letting him get too far into a hole and lost him.

That sucked, but getting bitten by a venomous snake would have sucked worse.

It looked like an orange color… solid, muted – not bright. No pattern, no stripes, nothing to distinguish it. I have seen Indo Chinese Rat Snake adults that looked like this one, but in all I had about 6 seconds to identify it – and I decided it wasn’t worth the risk in case it was a coral snake. I’ve seen plenty of baby cobras – they all seem to be very dark, or even black as juveniles… still, I couldn’t risk it!

Oh well, there will be another snake, I’m sure.

So far on that mountain I’ve seen:

  • 4 meter King Cobra
  • Red Necked Keelback (far away from water, just way up the side of the hill – about 200 feet vertically maybe)
  • Painted Bronzeback at the top of the hill (850 feet vertical)
  • Brown Keelback on the steps – juvenile also
  • Oriental Whip Snake
  • A yellow snake I think must have been the Ridley’s Racer – it moved very fast into the hole in the limestone. I saw it for about 1 second.
  • At the bottom of the hill I saw and caught a mock viper.
  • The monks tell me they often see monocled cobras around the limestone where they live in their kutis.

Now, this might make that mountain seem like a great place to herp… but, this has been over the course of 4 years now and I’ve been up the thing nearly 800 times. Not such a good track record for seeing snakes then, is it?

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.

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 (Python 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)

Red Whip Snake (Dryophiops-rubescens)

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 ornatissima)

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 snake! Well, there are 150+ more out there – so I’d better get herping.

Just to make it crystal clear to 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!