Category Archives: Venomous

Snake Bite – Red-Necked Keelback – Rhabdophis subminiatus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bit him twice within a few minutes.

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

First time.

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

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

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

Wild snake in his friend’s garden (Phuket).


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 as it is here in Thailand. In Japan there is a small amount of antivenin produced for their local species. To my knowledge there has been nobody treated with this antivenin outside of Japan, and I’m sure they would not be all that interested to give up some of their small supply to export to another country.

More information on venom toxicity and treatment after bite by this snake: R. subminiatus.

Venom Characteristics (from

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 – .125 to .129 mg/kg. That is extremely venomous, in the same category as Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait), Naja kaouthia (Monocled Cobra), and O. hannah (King Cobra).

One WHO (World Health Organization) publication about the management of venomous snake bites in Southeast Asia mentions the antivenin for Rhabdophis tigrinus in Japan as having some effect on the venom of R. subminiatus. I am not sure if this is strictly for R. subminiatus found in Japan, or not. Worth a try though if you can get them to send you some antivenin. Otherwise, there is no other option – there is no monovalent antivenin specifically for R. subminiatus.

Japan Snake Institute
Nihon Hebizoku Gakujutsu Kenkyujo
3318 Yunoiri Yabuzuka
Yabuzukahonmachi Nittagun Gunmaken 379-2301
Tel 0277 785193 Fax 0277 785520
Yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus) antivenom. Also effective against rednecked keelback (R. subminiatus venom)

I have some time today, and I’m curious what their response will be. I’ll write them to see whether they could, in an emergency, be able to send some antivenin here to Thailand to treat a bite by R. subminiatus or R. tigrinus.

OK, I’ve written them, lets see if they respond…

Red Necked Keelback Caught on a Night Herping Trip

Just a pic – wanted to share this Thailand snake before I forgot….

Rhabdophis subminiatus, Red-necked keelback. Venomous and dangerous.

A boy, 12 yrs old, in Phuket, Thailand was in the Bangkok hospital for 2 weeks after a bite from this snake. The venom specifically attacks the kidneys.

Once thought to be harmless – these snakes are now considered dangerous. Don’t have one as a pet…

Rhabdophis subminiatus, Red-necked keelback snake from southern Thailand
Beautiful and dangerous…

One WHO (World Health Organization) publication about the management of venomous snake bites in Southeast Asia mentions the antivenin for Rhabdophis tigrinus in Japan as having some effect on the venom of R. subminiatus. I am not sure if this is strictly for R. subminiatus found in Japan, or not. Worth a try though if you can get them to send you some antivenin. Otherwise, there is no other option – there is no monovalent antivenin specifically for R. subminiatus.

Japan Snake Institute
Nihon Hebizoku Gakujutsu Kenkyujo
3318 Yunoiri Yabuzuka
Yabuzukahonmachi Nittagun Gunmaken 379-2301
Tel 0277 785193 Fax 0277 785520
Yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus) antivenom. Also effective against rednecked keelback (R. subminiatus venom)

How to Remove Snake During Bite?

If you are an experienced herper and you’re bitten by a deadly venomous snake in Thailand you have seconds to get the snake off you – the more time you take, the greater the chance you are in a life or death situation.

The problem with venomous snakes is that they chew the venom into their victim. The longer you let a snake stay attached to you, the more likely you are to suffer serious complications from the bite – including envenomation (venom injected).

It’s almost unbelievable, no, it IS unbelievable to me that Joe Slowinski – an accomplished herpetologist, let a Many-banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus) bite down on his finger for 10 seconds before getting it off. Perhaps he felt no fang pierce the skin, and so thought he was OK to ease the snake off his finger. Nobody that was there reported that. It’s just a guess. Why else would he let the snake bite that long? This is the #3 most toxic territorial snake in the world – and he definitely knew that the instant he was bitten. He died as a result of the bite some 30+ hours later after failing to get a helicopter to his remote location in Northern Burma.

Anyway, so, don’t let the snake bite down on you for more time than it takes to immediately get it off in the case of a cobra, krait, coral snake, or viper. All of these snakes can put you in grave danger of losing your life.

What is the proper way to remove a venomous snake? Great question – and I don’t know. In all the hundreds – or even thousands of videos I’ve watched about snakes, not one person has ever showed HOW.

I’ll ask a couple herpetologists today and add their responses to this snake note.

Ok, here is what I found out. Basically some advice from those that deal with snakes – venomous and non-venomous – a lot.

1. All venomous snakes are dangerous. Even those that are listed as “Mildly Dangerous” or something else here on this site.

2. Snakes have bad days, headaches, other aches, and other things that put them in agitated moods without you doing anything to cause it. Today is not like every other day with your snake, be extra careful everyday and don’t take the snake for granted.

3. Even small snakes can bite down hard and start chewing before you realize what is happening. Once they start chewing, and once the bite lasts for longer than a second or two – assume venom is being injected into your body and get the snake off you immediately. A 12 year old boy in Phuket, Thailand was bitten by his pet Rhabdophis subminiatus (red-necked keelback) and was in the hospital for 14 days with serious complications. He did pull through though.

4. If a snake bites down don’t pull back on the snake to pull it off you, some snakes have curved teeth (some more than others) and you risk ripping your skin, ripping the teeth off the snake, and making the wound worse.

5. Try grabbing the tail and petting it strongly by rubbing the scales backward – against the lay, ruffling them. This works well with most snakes.

6. Try holding the snake under water – submerged.

7. Try running very warm water over the snake’s head until it releases.

8. Try bending the tail up and backward – this causes a lot of pain in the snake, and even pythons are said to release their bite at this.

9. If you don’t particularly care if you kill the snake while removing it – you can pour rubbing alcohol over the snakes head – it should release. It may die though.

10. If you have vodka, whiskey, or some other strong drinking alcohol to pour over the head – that works well.

If you are bitten by a krait or a cobra, coral snake, or viper in the wild where water isn’t available, personally I would grab the snake behind the head – careful not to grab ON the head because the venom glands are located there on the sides of the head by the eye, and you could actually inject a lot more venom into your body than without touching those areas.

Force the snake’s mouth open and concentrate on getting the top jaw away from your skin – snake venom comes from fangs in the top of the jaw.

Remember, with deadly snakes you have very little time. You don’t have time to go find hot water or tequila, just get it off you immediately. Every second counts.

If anyone else wants to comment on this or has info to add – please write me at:

Update: I found a video by some guys that get bitten many times a year. They recommend “Listerine” mouthwash to remove the snake quickly – every time. Fast forward to 2 minutes 40 seconds to see Listerine do it’s stuff.

I’ve started to bring a small container of Listerine with me in my snake bag.

Apparently they’ve used this often – and haven’t seen any negative effects on the snakes. Crazy idea – right?

Wagler’s Pit Viper – Venomous – Dangerous

Tropidolaemus wagleri - Wagler's Pit Viper - Dangerous
Tropidolaemus wagleri – Wagler’s Pit Viper – Dangerous and potentially deadly bites.

Tropidolaemus wagleri – also called: Wagler’s Pit viper; temple viper; bamboo snake; speckled pit viper.

Thais say: ngoo keow took geh

Length: Average length of 60 cm. Male smaller than female. Female maximum length at 100 cm.

Appearance: Wagler’s pit viper is short and the female is considerably thicker than the male. A marked difference in patterns is noted with the female becoming darker and with strong banding as you can see in the above image. The males are so radically different that they look like completely different species. In three reptile identification books I have for Thailand, they make no mention of the differences between the sexes. The female is pictured in each case.

Dorsal scale count ( 23 to 29 ) – ( 21 to 27 ) – ( 17 to 21 ) and usually 21 to 23 midbody dorsal scale rows in males and 23 to 27 midbody scale rows in females. Dorsal scales are strongly keeled in females, and lesser keeled in males.

Coloration can vary significantly among females. Here is a very yellow T. wagleri.

Tropidolaemus wagleri - very yellow phase. Coloration not altered.


Here is a darker colored female, but not nearly as much as the top and bottom photos on this page. Not nearly as much lateral yellow as the previous photo.

This is a brightly colored Tropidolaemus wagerli (Wagler's pit viper) which is gravid and ready to have young. It is located in a tropical rainforest in Southern Thailand.
Gravid and ready to have young. Soon to be the parent of dozens of hatchling vipers.

Besides the difference in size, thickness, and pattern, the body type is also quite different. The male grows to be around 60 cm and is long and thin, more like a wolf snake or something similar.

Below is a photo of a male Wagler’s pit viper found within one meter of a very gravid female. Obviously quite a big difference.

This is the male specimen of the species, Tropidolaemus wagleri. The female and male are markedly different in appearance of body, pattern, thickness, and coloration.

Range: Southern Thailand south of Khao Sok National Park, Suratthani province. Other countries: West Malaysia; Indonesia; Philippines. There is a concentration of these common vipers on the island of Phuket, Thailand.

Habitat: Elevations up to about 1,200 meters but most abundant at elevations from 400 up to about 600 meters in lowland primary forest, secondary forest and jungle – especially coastal mangrove. During the day these vipers can sometimes be found as little as a meter off the ground, up to a couple meters. They seem to prefer bushes over trees. Recently I found a gravid female at one meter off the forest floor and resting on a strong vine just 1 cm in diameter.

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. I have found these snakes during the day in a moderate rain at 400 meters elevation, and at 2000 hours after a light rain.

Food: Birds – especially baby birds in the nest, mice and other rodents, lizards, frogs.

Defensive Behavior: Coil back into s-shape before striking. Strike is typically less than .3 meters in distance. Mouth wide-open exposing very long 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. If continuously threatened they may hold their mouth wide open, like the photo above.

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. The multi-valent antivenom for green pit vipers treats envenomation by this snake.

Antivenom Code: SAsTRC01
Antivenom Name: Green Pit Viper Antivenin
Manufacturer: Science Division, Thai Red Cross Society
Phone: +66-2-252-0161 (up to 0164)
Address: Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, 1871 Rama IV Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Country: Thailand

Offspring: Live birth in September is common, with up to 41 young per litter. Male and females look different from day one, the females having light banding and the males with creme / red or brown dots on the top of the body.

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.

Tropidolaemus wagleri


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Tropidolaemus
Species: T. wagleri
Binomial name: Tropidolaemus wagleri

Classified by Boie, in the year 1827.

Top of head – very triangular, and thin neck (female):

Triangle Head - Female Wagler's Pit Viper

Video 1 – Wagler’s Pit Viper – found during daylight hours during a moderate rain shower with dark skies at around 400 meters elevation on a mountain in Krabi province, Southern Thailand.

Blue Malaysian Coral Snake – Venomous – Deadly

Deadly snake, Calliophis bivurgatis flaviceps - blue Malaysian coral snake
Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps. ©2012 Tom Charlton. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Blue Malaysian Coral Snake is a venomous elapid and is one of the most strikingly beautiful snakes you’ll ever see. I’ve been lucky enough to see one crossing the road in southern Thailand and I didn’t have any snake hook to grab him.

Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps (Blue Malaysian Coral Snake, Blue Long-glanded Coral Snake)

3 Sub-species: C. b. bivirgatus in Java – lacks blue stripes on ventral.
C. b. flaviceps in Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia (possibly, no records), Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and various islands of the Riau Archipelago. C. b. tetrataenia in Borneo has a light yellow stripe on side, without blue stripe.

Thais Say:  ngoo bik thong dang

Length: Up to 180 cm, however usually around 140 cm

Range:  This beautiful coral snake is found from around Bangkok and south toward Peninsular Malaysia.

Habitat: Usually found at some elevation – over 400 meters, I have also found them at 100 meters asl. Calliophis bivirgata prefers heavily wooded and wet areas of primary and secondary rainforest.

They seem to prefer living under and foraging under leaves and fallen trees to rocks. They are terrestrial, I’ve never seen one climb anything.

Active Time: These corals snakes are nocturnally active, but on rainy and cloudy days they can also be found, like many coral snakes.

Description: Medium sized, though large for a coral snake, this snake reaches 140 cm typically, and up to 170 cm have been recorded. The body is mostly deep blue with light blue or white stripes along the lower ventral side of the body. The head, venter (belly), and tail are usually brilliant red. The nose is blunt for foraging the leaf litter where it spends most of its time. Dorsal scale count: 13-13-13.

Defensive Behavior: Always avoiding man and other large threats, they can be very fast as they flip about almost spastically. When they are trapped and tailed, they may attempt to flip over on the dorsal side, exposing a brilliant ventral of red, orange, and pinkish color. During foraging these snakes are very slow moving.

Food: Prey includes other snakes, lizards, frogs, birds.

Danger: All coral snakes must be treated as the potentially lethal snakes they are. That said, many people free-handle these snakes at their own peril. Deaths have occurred as the result of envenomation by this snake. One man in Singapore was reported to have died within five minutes of envenomation. Do be exceptionally careful and never hand-hold any deadly snake.

Venom Toxicity: Neurotoxic venom which does not initially present with much pain at the bite site is immediately acting to block nerve impulses. The wound may become numb, and lips may also get numb. Difficulty in breathing occurs as the venom shuts down muscle contractions – the diaphragm and other major muscles.

Antivenom: None!

Key Diagnostic Features: Local pain + flaccid paralysis
General Approach to Management: All cases should be treated as urgent and potentially lethal. Rapid assessment and commencement of treatment for symptoms is mandatory. Admit all cases.

Offspring: Oviparous and clutches of 1-3 eggs.

Notes: One of the most impressive snakes to see in the wild. Fairly common in deep Southern Thailand and Malaysia mountains. This snake is easily confused with Calamaria schlegeli in Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, Java, and Sumatra. The red-headed reed snake which is harmless. The reed snake has smaller scales and no red tail or venter. Venter is grey and white.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Calliophis
Species: C. bivirgata
Binomial name: Calliophis bivirgata

(Friedrich Boie, 1827)

High Definition (1080p) Video of Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps Found During Daylight in Singapore:

Brown-Spotted Green Pit Viper – Venomous – Mildly Dangerous

Brown Spotted Green Viper in southern Thailand. Cryptelytrops venustus.
Trimeresurus venustus. Brown-Spotted Green Viper. Small – 70 cm. Venomous. Mildly Dangerous. Found in Southern Thailand.

Trimeresurus venustus previously Cryptelytrops venustus(Brown-spotted Green Pit Viper, Beautiful Pit Viper)

Length: average 40-70 cm

Range: Chumpon to Krabi Province in Thailand. I have found them in Krabi and Surat Thani provinces.

Notes: I found this one in the picture on a small hill at a Buddhist temple on a hill next to some steps. These venomous snakes are active on the ground and in bushes. This one was in a bush about 1.3 meters high, right next to the path. It was non-aggressive and didn’t protest when I moved it away from the path with a stick.

Appearance: Small vipers with brilliant greens, whites, and browns. Dorsal scales are strongly keeled. Dorsal scale count 21 – 21 – 15.

Habitat:  I’ve found these vipers up to 300 meters elevation. This snake hunts almost entirely on the ground where it preys on frogs and lizards. They also enjoy jungle, limestone mountains, and rubber plantations. I kept one of these for three days to photograph and shoot video of. It spends most time suspended from a branch just a few inches off the bottom of the tank.

Active Time? The snake is mainly nocturnal. Active during the day only after heavy rainfall. I have found most of mine during daylight hours, but have also found them at night hunting prey.

Food: Mice, frogs, lizards. I had a good sized house gecko in the tank with this Trimeresurus venustus, but it left it alone. The pit vipers sense the heat of the animal and strike. The geckos are cold blooded so they are no hotter than their surroundings.

Trimeresurus venustus, the brown-spotted pit viper, aka: beautiful pit viper from Southern Thailand is one of the true vipers and is venomous but has not been shown to be deadly.

Defensive Behavior: The snake is very slow during the day and only bites if seriously aggravated. I ran into a reptile poacher in a Thailand forest and he was hand carrying one of these brown spotted green pit vipers in his left hand and had a large box turtle in his other hand. I told him – PIT! It means ‘venomous’ in Thai. He insisted “no, it wasn’t” and held it up to his face where the snake immediately bit him on the cheek a couple times and once on the lip. It let go after 1-2 seconds. He said – “See??” I promptly bought the snake from him, to keep him from further harm. Not sure what hospital he was at that night!

Venom Toxicity: Mildly toxic. Bites are painful and usually without significant effects. Probably this viper would need to bite down for a number of seconds to transfer enough volume of venom that it would be seriously detrimental, but they are fully capable of doing so. Bites are to be considered potentially deadly. Green Pit Viper Antivenin is available at most public hospitals in Thailand.

Antivenom Code: SAsTRC01
Antivenom Name: Green Pit Viper Antivenin
Manufacturer: Science Division, Thai Red Cross Society
Phone: +66-2-252-0161 (up to 0164)
Address: Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, 1871 Rama IV Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Country: Thailand

Offspring: The beautiful pit viper I have now is likely gravid, which contradicts some other info I’ve seen about them having offspring in the June/July time-frame. This is December. She is not overly gravid and looks to be in the beginning stages, but still – I think only a couple of months are required for gestation. She’ll have an early birth – April maybe? These snakes birth live offspring in a jelly-like bubble that breaks after coming out of the female snake. Typical numbers are 20-30 young that are colored and patterned same as the adults.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotilinae
Species: Trimeresurus venustus

I could find little information about this snake beyond my own experience and some of the snake identification books I have.

Monocled Cobras – Venomous – Very Deadly

Monocled cobra siblings. Deadly venomous snakes - Naja kaouthia - Thailand
Naja Kaouthia – Venomous – VERY dangerous and very common Thailand snake.

Naja kaouthia, the monocled cobra is one of Thailand’s most deadly snakes – with highly toxic (neurotoxic + cytotoxic) venom. One bite on your toe from one that jumps out from under your outdoor refrigerator can kill you. Monocled cobras seem to be everywhere in Thailand. I had a friend that found them in his kitchen often. I’ve seen them crossing the road (see video below), and there was a family of these cobras living under the office of my wife’s workplace – with many 18″ baby cobras.

I just heard about Grant Thompson, an 18-year-old man in Austin, Texas that was bitten on the wrist by a monocled cobra and died of cardiac arrest. Authorities are looking for the snake. Tips that might catch the snake 1. If cool in the mornings, the snake might be found in bushes sunning itself. These cobras prefer hot weather over 80°F. 2. They are most active during daytime, but can move at night. 3. N kaouthia will eat eggs, mice, rats, if no other snakes are to be found. They prefer snakes, but I don’t know what Grant fed his snake. It might be unable to stalk prey and feed itself and die within a month.

Thais respect (fear) this snake because many have friends or relatives that have been envenomated (bitten and venom injected) by this snake. They even make Buddhist amulets with cobra snake images.

I’ve worked with two hatchling monocled cobras, and even at 12-15 inches – they are fierce. One snake handler described monocled cobras as “spastic” – and I have to agree.

If you are bitten by any cobra – get to the hospital as fast as you can. Monocled cobra venom is on par or even more toxic than some of the Thailand kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a small one, a nick, a scrape, get to the hospital immediately. All it takes is a drop of venom to hit your blood stream for biological chaos to ensue.

Naja kaouthia (Thailand Monocled Cobra)

Appearance: Monocled cobras are easily identified by looking at the back of the hood – there is a monocle – or eye type shape there. They are light brown to dark grey to solid black. Most are very close to black.

Thais say: Ngoo how hom, Ngoo how mo (long o sound)

Length: Typical maximum length about 1.5 meters. Recently I saw one in a mangrove forest that was 2 meters long, a giant. They can get up to 2.2 meters – about 7.5 feet long.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.

Notes: Neuro toxic venom affecting nerves, brain, and causing death very quickly without treatment. They are very fast strikers. The baby monocled cobras are every bit as deadly. Please be CAREFUL!

Habitat: Both flat and hilly regions. I’ve seen them on hills, but usually near people – under houses and in places rats and frogs are likely to be found. In the mornings they can be in trees and bushes – trying to get some sun to warm up. They love to hide under leaves, wood, anything really. Lifespan is around 30 years.

Deadly venomous Thailand monocled cobra (naja kaouthia) in strike pose.Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – active by day, but I have seen a number of them still active at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve seen five active at night – the rest, dozens of them, were active during daytime.

Food: Rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, other snakes.

Defensive Behavior: Lift head off ground and flatten out neck. The hood flares quite wide compared to the width of the body. When comparing the monocled cobra and the king cobra, the monocled cobras have a hood flare that is more extreme in relation to the width of their body and heads.

Monocled cobras are very active and ready to strike especially as the temperature climbs past 35C (about 95F). Do be very careful with them during this temperature range because they are very easily agitated and strike much more often.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic, deadly. Even a small bite can kill you. See “neurotoxic and cytotoxic venoms” (link).

Offspring: Lays 25-40 eggs. Young are fully prepared to envenomate as they hatch. Mating takes place after the rainy season. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. Eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 to 12 inches at birth.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Naja
Species: Naja kaouthia

Classified by: Lesson, 1841

Monocled Cobra videos:
My Two Recent Baby Monocled Cobras:

Finding a Small Monocled Cobra on the Street:

A Couple Juvenile Monocled Cobras in a Tank:

Green Keelback – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Rhabdophis nigrocinctus, Thailand. This is a venomous and poisonous snake with nuchal glands.
This Rhabdophis nigrocinctus was in Phuket, Thailand. ©2015 Elliot Pelling.

Rhabdophis nigrocinctus (Green Keelback)

Thai: (noo ly sab keow kwan dam)

Length: Up to 90 cm

Habitat / Range: Thailand and southeast Asia. Found in a range of areas, usually fairly close to water. This snake is terrestrial – ground based, and is very common in Phuket, Thailand.

Notes: These snakes are commonly found near water, lakes, ponds, and in gardens.

Active Time? Daylight hours, especially dawn and dusk near water.

Food: Frogs, poisonous toads, and fish.

Defensive Behavior: Rarely strike.

Venom Toxicity: Though this snake is not known to have caused medically significant bites with envenomation, it is closely related to the Rhabdophis subminiatus which has proven capable of deadly bites. Do be very careful and treat these snakes as venomous and potentially deadly.

Offspring: Nothing known.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Rhabdophis
Species: Rhabdophis nigrocinctus

Red Necked Keelback – Venomous – Dangerous

Red Necked Keelback Snake, venomous, Thailand and southeast Asia.
A beautiful snake, usually under 1 meter, not very aggressive.

Rhabdophis subminiatus (Red-Necked Keelback Snake)

Thai: (ngoo lay sab ko dang)

Length: Up to 130 cm (1.3 meters). Usually smaller than 1 meter.

Range: Thailand and southeast Asia.

Notes: These snakes are commonly found near water, lakes, ponds, and in gardens. Recently a friend had one in his swimming pool in Krabi town, southern Thailand.

Active Time? Daylight hours. I’ve found them sleeping around 1 foot off the ground in bushes.

Food: Frogs, poisonous toads, and fish.

Defensive Behavior: Spread out the neck slightly to make themselves appear bigger. Not as dramatic as a cobra. Lift their head and neck off the ground 4-5 inches.

Some snakes of this species, and others in the genus Rhabdophis, have displayed a rather unique defensive behavior of exposing the back of their neck and secreting poison from their nuchal glands. This is not all that common, I for one have never seen this in the wild or with snakes in captivity and I’ve seen dozens of them.

One researcher, Kevin Messenger, claims that the R. subminiatus helleri he caught in Hong Kong actually sprayed a mist of the poison into the air from the back of the neck. Quite amazing, if true, right? Obviously more study is needed into the secret life of this fascinating snake. Other snakes in Rhabdophis genus with nuchal glands: R. nuchalis, R. tigrinus, R. nigrocinctus (in Thailand).

Here is an image of the snake expressing poison from the nuchal glands.

Nuchal gland poison from Rhabdophis subminiatus helleri
The liquid on the neck near the top of the red shade is poison acquired from eating poisonous toads.

Here is the description in a scientific journal about Kevin’s encounter.

Venom Toxicity: LD50 is 1.29 mg/kg for intravenous injection (source). That is about the same rating as the very deadly “Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus)”. It was previously thought these snakes were harmless. Some kept them as pets and were bitten. In one case the snake was left to bite for two entire minutes before removing it from a finger.

Serious complications resulted requiring hospitalization and intensive care. Click for article. These snakes are rear-fanged and need to bite and hold on, or, repeatedly bite to have any effect on humans. Once they do either – there is the possibility of severe problems including renal failure and death. Recently a small boy of 12 years old was bitten by one he was keeping as a pet in Phuket, Thailand and he is currently being treated (11/5/10). Be very careful not be be bitten by these snakes. There is NO ANTI-VENIN available yet for these snakes in Thailand. Scroll down for information about antivenin manufactured in Japan that may have some positive effect.

Another study in Japan ranked the venom as having an LD50 of 1.25 mg/kg for intravenous injection. (Japan Snake Institute, Hon-machi, Yabuzuka, Nitta-gun, Gunma-ken, Japan) V.1- 1969- Volume(issue)

In Japan they make limited amounts of antivenin, but it is specifically for their in-country use.

One WHO (World Health Organization) publication about the management of venomous snake bites in Southeast Asia mentions the antivenin for Rhabdophis tigrinus in Japan as having some effect on the venom of R. subminiatus. I am not sure if this is strictly for R. subminiatus found in Japan, or not. Worth a try though if you can get them to send you some antivenin. Otherwise, there is no other option – there is no monovalent antivenin specifically for R. subminiatus.

Japan Snake Institute
Nihon Hebizoku Gakujutsu Kenkyujo
3318 Yunoiri Yabuzuka
Yabuzukahonmachi Nittagun Gunmaken 379-2301
Tel 0277 785193 Fax 0277 785520
Yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus) antivenom. Also effective against rednecked keelback (R. subminiatus venom)

Update: The 12 year old boy bitten by the Rhabdophis subminiatus was treated for 2 weeks of intensive care, and released. He was bitten multiple times, the 2nd bite lasting over 20 seconds.

Offspring: I had a juvenile red-necked keelback I’ve taken photos and videos of and released into the wild. I cannot find anything much about offspring. Recently (mid-June) I found a DOR juvenile very recently hatched, so like most snakes in Thailand the time around June is when they are hatching out. The coloration of the juvenile is quite different from adults as you can see in the photo and video below.

Rhabdophis subminiatus Juvenile
A hint of red on the neck in the juvenile. A pronounced black banding at the neck and grey on the head is evident in juveniles.

Notes: These snakes can inflict a deadly bite when they are allowed to bite for longer than a couple of seconds. I know personally of two instances where a child was bitten for well over 20 seconds, and a man was bitten for about a minute. Neither wanted to hurt the snake to remove it forcibly, and both spent over a week in intensive care, with the possibility of renal failure and death. Do not play with these snakes. If you have one, do not free-handle it. Treat it like you would a pit viper or a cobra. The LD50 on this snake for intravenous was stated to be 1.29 mg/kg. That is VERY venomous.

As a precaution, any snake in the Rhabdophis genus should be treated with extreme caution. In Thailand we also have the diurnal Rhabdophis nigrocinctus, which probably can also inflict a medically significant bite if given the opportunity.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Rhabdophis
Species: Rhabdophis subminiatus

Red Necked Keelback video

Red Neck Keelback Snake ( <- click) video – This is another red-necked keelback (adult) that I had for a while. I’ve since let it go back into the wild.

Banded Mangrove Snake – Venomous – Mildly Dangerous

Mangrove cat snake at night in situ, secondary tropical rainforest in Southern Thailand's Krabi province.
One of the B dendrophila snakes I’ve found at night in the tropical secondary rainforest in Southern Thailand, Krabi Province.

Mangrove Cat Snake – Boiga dendrophila

Thais say: Ngoo plong tong

Length: Up to 250 cm

Description: This is a long, strong snake with a rather pronounced vertebral column. The head is black on the top with bright yellow supralabial scales which have black edges, producing a striking effect. The snake is black on the back and laterals with thin yellow bands extending from the venter to usually about mid-body. It is not common for the bands to meet at the top. Ventrals are very dark grey to black except where yellow from the bands. The eyes are large with vertical pupils. The chin and throat are bright yellow. The inside of the mouth is white. Tongue is dark grey to black. Juveniles of this species are same as the adults.

This snake is nocturnal and arboreal, but can often be found on the ground or in bodies of water as well.

NOTE – there is some danger of misidentifying this species with the deadly Bungarus fasciatus – the Banded Krait.

Range: Thailand-wide. Found in humid forests of all sorts, especially near or in trees above streams or other fresh or saltwater up to 610 meters. They can be found resting in branches in daytime above water in the mangroves or on mountain freshwater streams from 3 meters to 6 meters high.

Habitat: Trees, land, and water – salt and fresh. It sleeps in many different trees including the leaves of mangrove trees in the mangrove, and on large palm trees.

Active Time? Nocturnal.

Food: Frogs, lizards, eggs, fish, and other small animals. They can frequently be seen heading upstream along stream banks looking for frogs at night from dusk to midnight or so.

Defensive Behavior: These snakes curl up in a double-s shape before striking. They are rather quick to bite.

Venom Toxicity: Weak, but with some medically significant envenomations recorded in literature. No confirmed fatalities. B dendrophila is a rear fanged colubrid. The fangs are not large, and it isn’t easy to get a good bite on a human leg or arm where venom can be transferred.  Don’t attempt to hand-hold a snake that is prone to biting.

I know a Burmese man that worked in the snake show in Krabi for years, he was bitten many times by this species while on a boat collecting them in the mangroves. At times after being bitten repeatedly he reported getting a bad headache which relented after 20 minutes or so.

Offspring: Four to fifteen large eggs. Offspring of 35-43 cm hatch after ~12 weeks and strongly resemble adults in coloration and pattern.

Notes: These are great looking snakes with a lot of energy for striking. Unfortunately, their look and their energy make them perfect for use in the snake shows across Thailand. It is not uncommon for these snakes to die in captivity.

Scientific classification: Boiga dendrophila

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Boiga
Species: B. dendrophila

Binomial name: Boiga dendrophila
(Boie, 1827)

Krabi rainforest mangrove cat snake (Boiga dendrophila)