Thanks to Robert Abrams for permission to post these photos and story. Amazing Thailand.
Click images to enlarge.
Robert Abrams sent me some photos of a snake he said washed over Menora waterfall he was relaxing at, the location is about 40 km outside of Ampur Muang, Phattalung province, southern Thailand. It was none other than the ultimate venomous snake, the king cobra.
In his words -
“It was raining very heavy that day. Some friends and I went swimming at a waterfall outside the town where we teach. All the sudden it was swept down into the pool where we were sitting. It was pretty stunned, i think it was in shock because the water was abnormally cold. It also had a break in the scales along its side. It was still alive at the time. It almost managed to make it out of the water, a friend and I tried to get a stick but by the time we found one it had been swept further down stream. It may well have survived, but i doubt it. I think enough time in that cold water and the beating it took going over waterfalls would eventually finish it off.”
Amazing! Some people never get to see a king cobra in the wild – and this one almost dropped in Robert’s lap.
I’m glad he didn’t reach it with a stick like he was trying to. Originally he thought it was a rat snake, which is harmless.
It looks to me like the snake was probably run over by a motorbike or other vehicle and went back into the wilderness to try to mend itself. It was likely ready to die though. That looks like a wicked injury.
Length: Average length of 60 cm. Male smaller than female. Female maximum length at 100 cm.
Range: Southern Thailand south of Khao Sok National Park, Suratthani province. Other countries: West Malaysia; Indonesia; Philippines. There is a concentration of them on the island of Phuket, Thailand.
Habitat: Behaviour/habitat: Elevations up to about 1,200 meters but most abundant at elevations up to about 600 meters in lowland primary forest, secondary forest and jungle – especially coastal mangrove. During the day these vipers rest in the trees 2-3 meters off the ground.
Active Time? Mainly nocturnal, but occasionally found during the day, especially during or after rain. Crepuscular in nature, they are more often active during dusk and dawn, or on an unusually dark day during heavy rain.
Food: Birds – especially baby birds in the nest; rodents; lizards; frogs.
Defensive Behavior: Coil back into s-shape and strike. Strike is typically less than .3 meters in distance. Mouth wide open exposing fangs and white tissue. Can strike in succession rather quickly. Their strike is not very fast in comparison with some of the other vipers. The heat-sensing pits between the eyes can sense temperature difference as little as 0.003 degrees Celsius.
Venom Toxicity: Potentially deadly. Strong venom that usually does not result in death to humans. Victims experience a strong burning sensation upon envenomation, and swelling, necrosis of tissue.
Notes: Though these snakes are said to be exclusively arboreal and nocturnal, I found one on a mountain recently during the middle of the day, on the ground, during a rain shower.
These snakes have a wide variety of colors and patterns.
This photo comes from a reader that was writing postcards in her bungalow on the island of Koh Phi Phi, in Thailand’s Krabi province when she noticed a Mangrove Pit Viper (Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus) near her foot!
This is not the snake you want near your foot, as they are heat-sensing, and some are known to be strike-happy.
Luckily she was able to move away in time. This snake is so beautiful. They come in yellow, brown, purple, and black colorations. Awesome to get a photo of this one. Thanks Céline Borel!
Length: These snakes can reach almost 4 meters in length, though they are much more common at the 2 meter length.
Range: In Thailand the keeled rat snake is found all over the country. I have found them in Krabi, Surat, and the Sisaket province, near Ubon Ratchathani.
Habitat: Lowlands and hilly rain forest type habitat primarily. The last 5 of these snakes I saw were all found at at less than 200 meters elevation, and in the forest on and just off hiking trails during the day. It is worth noting that the snake in the embedded video below was found at 100+ meters elevation climbing a limestone cliff.
Active Time? I have only found these active during the daylight hours (diurnal), though one was found thirty minutes after sunset crawling on limestone rocks at 130 meters elevation up a steep hill.
Food: Primarily rats and other small mammals. Probably frogs, lizards, and possibly other snakes. Probably they are quite opportunistic and eat whatever presents itself.
Defensive Behavior: These snakes are quite adept at defending themselves. They have almost endless energy and don’t seem to stop after 10-20 strikes as most snakes do, they can continue more than 60 times.
Venom Toxicity: These are rat snakes, they have venom in their saliva, but it does not act on humans to cause serious envenomation. Ptyas carinatus venom is rich in neurotoxic 3FTx and affects animals they eat, but not humans.
Notes: I have seen about two dozen of these snakes, about 20 of them in the wild – usually forest. They are very fast on the ground, and I have never seen them climb trees, but I have seen them easily climb the sides of large limestone cliffs, poking their heads into holes to see what they might find to eat. These snakes are sometimes mistaken for the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) as they are about the same size, general shape, and they even have some striping that can be mistaken for the king cobras. These snakes are active throughout the daylight hours and are best caught by tailing them while they are going through brush so they cannot twist around and strike. These snakes are one of the few species in Thailand that can hiss when aggravated. Today on the trail up a mountain in Tub Kaak in Krabi, I caught a 1.5m specimen and he hissed repeatedly as I tailed him and he tried to twist through the small bushes to get away. Other snakes that make noises with their mouths are: Burmese pythons, King cobras, Monocled cobras, spitting cobras of both types (equatorial and siamese), and the Russell’s viper (Chain viper).
This rat snake gets to be nearly 4 meters long. The images here are of an almost 3 meter specimen from southern Thailand. Keeled rat snakes have a big bite and a big reach when striking, so be careful! The teeth and jaws on this large rat snake are very strong and they can leave wicked scars.
Species: carinatus or carinata
Binomial name: Ptyas carinatus, P. carinata
Video of a small Ptyas carinata I caught crawling among limestone cliffs in Krabi province, Thailand:
Here are a couple photos of pit vipers from southern Thailand. These are both wicked fast biters, and I never get close enough to have one tag me. That means I never grab them by the back of the head. I’m not force-feeding them, or removing eye-caps, so I don’t get involved in touching them. I need all the flesh and bone in my fingers because I type a lot on the computer every day.
Wagler’s pit vipers have a variety of colors and patterns evident. This one is from Krabi, Thailand. It is gravid, so I’m hoping to get some good photos and videos of the juvi’s when they pop out.
Over a month ago one of my friends from a neighboring province in Thailand – Nakhon si Thammarat, wrote me to tell me of some eggs he found and that he was incubating. Turns out they were from the Malayan pit viper! He promptly relocated them from inside his house, to out the back door in the forest! Malayan pit vipers do not play nice. They are strong vipers, with exceptionally strong venom. In fact, some state that this snake kills more people in Thailand than any other. The reason, of course, is that Thais and Burmese, Laotian, Khmer, workers in the fields don’t seek immediate treatment at a hospital. If you make it to a hospital – you’ll likely live after a bite.
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?
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.
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.
Length: These kraits grow to 1.9 to just over 2 meters, though most found are under 2 meters.
Range: In Thailand the red headed krait is only found in the southern Thailand provinces from Ratchaburi and southward. Across the globe they are most heavily concentrated in Malaysia, Borneo, and a couple other places. Recently I found a large 1.9m specimen in the Trang province.
Habitat: Lowlands and hilly rain forest type habitat. The last 4 of these snakes I saw were all found at less than 200 meters elevation.
Active Time? Probably active both at night and daytime. Three of four of these snakes in our local area were found during the daylight. Probably they prefer the night time hours for hunting prey.
Food: Some say the red headed kraits eat more frogs, lizards, eggs, and rodents than other snakes. Probably they are opportunistic and eat whatever presents itself.
Defensive Behavior: In the 4 snakes examined – none struck out, none attempted to bite at all. Note – all but one was handled during daylight hours.
Venom Toxicity: Venomous, and deadly. The venom has been shown to have an LD50 subcutaneous measurement of .35 mg/kg for Bungarus flaviceps, while Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait) was .32 mg/kg, and Bungarus fasciatus (Banded Krait), .62 mg/kg and less than that in another study. This makes it one of the top venomous snakes on the planet and within the top three most venomous in Thailand. The black mamba is listed at the same .32 mg/kg by respected venom researcher, Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry at his site. Only 10 other terrestrial snakes in the world were listed with more potent venom. Little is known of the this venom’s effect on humans after a bite, though it is likely very similar to a bite from Bungarus candidus, I could find no treatment studies due to bites being quite rare by this krait species.
From the abstract of a recent (2/2010) venom study in Malaysia: Bungarus flaviceps (red-headed krait) venom presents an intravenous LD50 of 0.32 μg/g and exhibits enzymatic activities similar to other Bungarus toxins. ELISA cross-reactions between anti-Bungarus flaviceps and a variety of elapid and viperid venoms were observed in the current study. Double-sandwich ELISA was highly specific, since anti-B. flaviceps serum did not cross-react with any tested venom, indicating that this assay can be used for species diagnosis in B. flaviceps bites. In the indirect ELISA, anti-B. flaviceps serum cross-reacted moderately with three different Bungarus venoms (9-18%) and Notechis scutatus venom, but minimally with other elapid and viperid toxins. The results indicated that B. flaviceps venom shares common epitopes with other Bungarus species as well as with N. scutatus. The lethality of the B. flaviceps venom was neutralized effectively by antiserum prepared against B. candidus and B. flaviceps toxins and a commercial bivalent elapid antivenom prepared against B. multicinctus and Naja naja atra venoms, but was not neutralized by commercial antivenoms prepared against Thai cobra, king cobra and banded krait. These data also suggested that the major lethal toxins of B. flaviceps venom are similar to those found in B. multicinctus and B. candidus venoms.
Offspring: Two clutches from two adult female red-headed kraits were studied by Chula University scientists in Bangkok. Once clutch was four eggs, and the other, six eggs. After 81-84 days in incubation at 26-27C and the other clutch at 30-32C eggs hatched. Less eggs hatched at the higher temperature incubation. Average hatchling length was 28.9cm +/- .8cm measured from snout to vent. Weight of each was 7.2 to 7.8 grams. Humidity in the incubation enclosures was 60-70%. After 7-10 days all snakes had shed.
Notes: I have seen 4 of these kraits, and they are quite incredible to find in the wild considering how rare they are. The Bungarus flaviceps has not been studied very well, and I suspect that most of the information on Wikipedia and other information sources has been generalized from other Thailand kraits like the Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus) and Many Banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus) because the wording seems too similar.
These snakes have not been studied well in captivity or in the wild. They are not known to bite during daytime, but, be exceptionally careful when handling them.
The belly at the tail is red, red-orange on this snake. The rest of the venter is creme colored.
Substrate: Best? Leaves and something large to hide under – wood is best, rocks, something solid.
Ways to differentiate Bungarus flaviceps from the Malayan Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus):
1. B. flaviceps has a triangle cross-section, while C. bivirgatus has more of a round cross-section.
2. C. bivirgatus has a venter that is all red/orange. B. flaviceps has red under the tail only.
3. B. flaviceps reaches about 2 meters while B. bivirgatus grows to just 1.4 meters.
4. B. bivirgatus has lateral lines on both sides of the body toward the venter, that are solid light blue or white.
5. With some video study you can see how their crawling pattern differs.
6. B. flaviceps has a more sizeable head, wider head, and larger mouth than the coral snake.
7/25/13 Update. At 11:30pm in a Thailand National Park in Trang Province, a friend and I found a large 1.9m Bungarus flaviceps on the trail and photographed and shot video of it. Video #1 is of this snake. The photos on this page are all of the same snake.
Length: Average 50 cm though females can get considerably longer at 130 cm (reference – http://www.afpmb.org/content/venomous-animals-c#Calliophismaculiceps)..
Range: These small coral snakes are found all over Thailand and some other countries in Asia. I have seen a half dozen of these snakes in southern Thailand, usually found by people in their potted plants outside.
Habitat: These snakes enjoy the leaf litter, loose dirt, and cool areas under rotting trees and other foliage. They are very rarely found during the daytime, and one scientist said they are usually only seen during September and October. I’ve seen them year round.
Active Time? Nocturnal – active almost exclusively at night.
Food: Very small snakes like the Brahminy blind snake, worm snakes, worms, and probably termite, ant, and other insect eggs.
Defensive Behavior: They curl up their bright red, white and black spotted tail as a defense mechanism. These snakes have little else for defense, as they don’t even attempt to bite. The mouth on the Calliophis maculiceps is very small.
Venom Toxicity: This is a coral snake, so, the potential for life-threatening envenomation does potentially exist. Their venom is neurotoxic. There are places on the human body where this snake could get a good bite in, given the chance. Between the fingers and toes is an ideal piece of skin to bite. Just be very careful with these, and all coral snakes. Just because a snake has not been known to cause significant envenomation in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. If you keep this snake as a pet – be very careful not to get too comfortable holding it – it is potentially a deadly snake.
Offspring: One scientist noted a clutch of just 2 eggs.
Notes: These are remarkably beautiful snakes, and yet so small that they could be mistaken for a worm of some sort if. Body patterns can differ slightly. Some, like this juvenile exhibit black stripes and spots. Some have just spots. Some are almost uniformly brown with very few or light spots. The body of this coral snake is round, without a pronounced vertebral ridge. The belly is bright orange, and the tip of the tail has white and black. When the tail is raised, it is quite stunning. These snakes are common, and are kept as pets across the world.
Recently 2 adult and 13 juvenile eastern green mambas escaped from a house located within the flooded area in Bangkok, Thailand.
Some were caught, some killed, and apparently nobody bitten (yet) by one. They did import some antivenin and have many vials available, at what I think was 300,000 THB – per vial. Yes, about $10,000 USD per vial. If bitten you might need many vials – so stay far away from any green snake in Bangkok for the time being.
Mambas are so dangerous for their speed and extra long strikes. Not to mention the complete absence of antivenin for the species in Thailand prior to this. Mambas are excellent climbers and are very fast. Do not try to kill or capture one, you will almost definitely be bitten, and probably die from it – if a good bite. Mambas strike fast, often, and unpredictably, and not just once, but many times, if threatened.
Eastern Mamba venom is rated at 3.05 mg per kilogram as a lethal dose to 50% of mice given subcutaneous injections. These mice were of the same size and species. Venom is rated like this so we can compare venoms of different snakes. In the real world whether you get a subcutaneous injection, intra-venous, or intra-muscular, is all up to fate – and they have different results. It’s likely that your bite would be subcutaneous in most cases.
In comparison, there are other Thailand snakes with more potent venom on the subcutaneous LD-50 scale than the eastern green mambas:
Bungarus multicinctus – Many-banded Krait
Bungarus candidus – Blue krait, or Malayan krait
Naja kaouthia – Monocled cobra
Ophiophagus hannah – King cobra
Daboia russelli russelli – Russell’s Viper
Just to name 5.
I didn’t look up the other cobras, but their venom is likely also more toxic than the venom in mambas loose in Bangkok.
Here are some recent tweets about snakes from the twitter stream, searching “thaifloodeng snake”:
veen_NT veena T.
Public Health Minsitry: 127 ppl have been bitten by snakes, 17 of which by cobra and 53 by green snake viper. TR @satien_nna #Thaifloodeng
12 hours ago Favorite Undo Retweet Reply
Crocodile and snake dangers in Bangkok floods – ABC Australia (25 Oct) youtu.be/lmrBYERz0y0 #ThaiFloodEng #YouTube #VDO
21 hours ago
E22NXL NADIT LIAM YAEBDEE
[4/11,17.21] Green Mamba snake anti serums already arrived Thailand. (via @thaiflood) #ThaiFloodEng #FB
rubinasi Rubina S.
2m snake found in my sister’s moo ban (neighborhood) at sukhumvit 71. Ahh! #thaifloodeng twitpic.com/7aosrt
seacorro Zoe Daniel
Strike force formed to hunt escaped Green Mambas from flooded Nonthaburi snake farm at Pakkret #thaifloodeng
williereid Rowan Reid
Whoa, your turn to do the dishes MT @RichardBarrow: Be careful of snakes, caught a 2nd snake in my house #ThaiFloodEng pic.twitter.com/NT38YTn0
RT @RichardBarrow: Do be careful of snakes outside #ThaiFloodEng pic.twitter.com/EE8lw7Fa Is it the real snake?Look like fake
RichardBarrow Richard Barrow
Do be careful of snakes outside their normal habitat. Caught a 2nd snake in my house #ThaiFloodEng pic.twitter.com/be9xhJw5
lollylollz NooNY P
Wonder where the Green Mambas got their names. Are they great dancers or something? #snake #thaifloodeng
E22NXL NADIT LIAM YAEBDEE
★ Somphop, the snake hunter. Capture snakes for free (24/7) ★ ☎ 089-043-8445 (via @thaiflood) #ThaiFloodEng #FB
msnkkii Nikki Citybitch
SNAKE ALERT: Green Samba (extreme poisonous) has gone missing from flooded house in Pak Kred area. Nearby residents, beware. #ThaifloodEng
georgebkk George Thaivisa
2:39pm Snake hunter! Mr.Somphop ☎ 0890438445, free service for 24hrs ~ @thaiflood #thaifloodeng
E22NXL NADIT LIAM YAEBDEE
★WARNING★ African Green Mamba snake. If you see, Call 1362 (via @SiamArsa) #ThaiFloodEng #FB yfrog.com/kjw0omvj
RT @Nancreative: RT: If you see this kind of snake “Green mamba” Pls Call 1362 or @js100radio 02-7119160 # ThaiFloodEng
steviegell steve gell
#ThaifloodEng “@veen_NT: RT @DrJoop: How to identified the green mamaba snake. #snakeattack bit.ly/uYIj1P”
anneusm Barfie B.
Keep this number just in case: Snake-hunter Uncle Sompop, free snake catching service (24 hr) 089 043 8445 via @acesir #Thaifloodeng
8td Thanyarat Doksone
My 1st snake encounter during the floods. He/she was caught at a temple in Bang Phlat yesterday. #ThaiFloodEng pic.twitter.com/ApDCr0w7
steviegell steve gell
@bkkbase @lisavale I’m hoping for a big snake. Something about skinning 1 of those things that brings a community together #ThaifloodEng
Two photos of one of my favorite of all Thailand snakes – the dog-toothed cat snake. These are the longest of the cat snakes and get nearly 3 meters in length. They have a strange shaped head, as most cat snakes – and some would swear it was a viper. Many Thais see the triangle shaped head of these snakes and kill them immediately. Well, wait a sec, what snake DON’T Thais kill immediately?
These are primarily egg and bird eating snakes. Frequently they are caught after eating a bird in a cage, and they cannot get out of the cage. Birds seem to know this snake is a bird-eater because sometimes the way you find these snakes is to go see what the birds are squawking about – if there is one of these snakes in a tree near a nest – you’ll know it when the birds know it. All the Thai bird-keepers are familiar with this snake because they see them often.
These dog-toothed cat snakes have extraordinary patterns. The yellows and browns are amazing together and it’s definitely one of the most pleasant looking snakes you’ll find in Thailand – and maybe anywhere.
Here is another shot of the same snake, Boiga cynodon. It’s about 2 meters long. Notice the shape of the body, the cross-section. It has a very high vertebral ridge. These snakes can climb VERY well.
I have some video of a larger Boiga cynodon caught here in southern Thailand and a fact sheet for the snake at the link below: