Category Archives: front-fanged

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 of 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.

Currently I have two baby 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 bit 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 Thai kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a very small one – 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. The two I have now, and the two I had before were almost 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 or larger. 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 couple moving around at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve only seen three 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 – versus that of the king cobras, which don’t flare out that widely.

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 ‘extra-bitey.’

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 stops. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. Eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 and 12 inches at birth.

Classification:
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:

My 2 Previous Monocled Cobras in the Tank:

King Cobra – Largest Venomous Snake in World

Thailand King Cobra, Ophiophagus hannah, is the world's largest venomous snake, and is found across most of Southeast Asia, including this one found in Thailand.
Ophiophagus hannah. Venomous and potentially deadly. Grows to around to 6-meters. Eats other snakes primarily. If bitten, victim may die within 10-20 minutes.

Ophiophagus hannah (Thailand King Cobra)

Thais say: In Thai language, it sounds like Ngoo how chang (literally “snake cobra elephant”, or ngoo chong ahng. There are many names for this snake.

Length: Max length about 5.8 meters. The presenter at the Saovabha Snake Farm in Bangkok said the largest king was caught in Nakhon si Thammarat in Thailand’s south, near Surat Thani province and it was around 19 feet in length (cannot recall exact length).

Range: All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.

Notes: I’ve seen a few king cobras in the wild. One I saw in a park in Krabi – just the tail as it crossed the road behind me. I’m guessing it was an eight meter long snake. I know it is probably impossible, but I’m not joking. The tail was absolutely massive, longer and thicker by nearly double that of other 5-meter kings I’ve seen many of. This was quite possibly the biggest King Cobra in the world.

Another king I saw on the island of Penang, in Malaysia. I was coming  down a very steep hill and I saw this 3-4 meter king cruising through the dense underbrush. It was absolutely awesome to see it there when there were so many people climbing the hill (dozens).

Another time I saw a king about one-hundred twenty meters in elevation up a limestone mountain in Krabi province. This one rested on the steps of a popular temple – Wat Tham Seua and I had to move it away so people could come down the steps. A large four-meter long king that was very fast! Note to self – don’t try to move a king that is higher than you are (it was on steps up ahead of me and was very fast to come down to attempt to strike at me because it had the height advantage.

Kings are all over Thailand and can be found near houses, or really – just about anywhere. But they are not found often. They are tremendously strong and smart animals. Please give the snake a large space and do not poke it with a stick. They are very fast moving. Juvenile king cobras can also kill you. Their venom is every bit as toxic as adults.

Habitat: Like many types of habitat. Dense forest near water and open grasslands.  Love bamboo thickets for a nest. Ideal cover is a web of small bamboo growing about a meter high with soft bamboo leaves underneath. The King I found last night was up a limestone mountain around 100 meters elevation. In Thailand they are often found wherever rat snakes might be found because they seem to prefer them.

Kings seem to prefer mountains. The other two I found were also at some elevation (200 m and around 500 meters). King cobras are usually terrestrial, but have been found many times in trees.

Another interesting bit of information is that the king cobra is said to be able to see as far as 100 meters during daylight.

Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – found active during the daytime, but can also be active also at night.

Food: King cobras eat other smaller snakes primarily, but also will eat monitor lizards. Occasionally they’ll eat other king cobras, pythons, lizards, birds, rodents. I saw a 5 meter long king attempting to eat a 2.5 meter reticulated python. The King appeared intimidated by the strength of the python – it’s no pushover. Here is a photo of a 3 meter king eating a 2 meter red tailed racer snake.

King Cobra Eats Red Tailed Racer Snake - Thailand

Defensive Behavior: Lifts its head off the ground sometimes by as much as 4-5 feet, and flattens out the neck. The hood of a King cobra doesn’t flare as wide… but, a big King will scare you much more because they can be 5 times as long as the monocled or other cobras! These snakes are not usually that afraid of people, and move slowly to ‘escape’ if they move away at all. Last night I moved a 4 meter king off some steps at a local temple so people could pass. It was not in ANY hurry to get away, and it came at me a couple of times. Impressive snakes, and not to be taken lightly. I know a man personally, his brother was bitten on the upper arm/shoulder and died in less than 10 minutes on the way to hospital.

King cobra skull showing large teeth and thick, rather short fangs for injecting venom during envenomation.
King cobra skull showing large teeth and thick, rather short fangs for injecting venom during envenomation.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic, but monocled cobras (Naja kaouthia) and kraits (genus Bungarus) are more potent on the LD50 scale. The power of the King is in the volume of venom it can inject in one bite – maximum around 7ml! Kings can (and have) killed elephants with a good bite.

Antivenom: There is a specific antivenin for the king cobras manufactured by the Red Cross Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand and available online for about $110 (May, 2015) for enough antivenin to counteract .8ml of king cobra venom. If the hospital you’re in does not have it in stock and cannot order it quickly from another nearby source, there is an alternative. Tiger snake antivenin can also work well. Online – Snake-Antivenin.com (no affiliation).

Offspring: Ophiophagus hannah is the only snake known in the world that creates a nest (usually of bamboo and other leaves). This snake lays eggs which they stay with in the nest until ready to hatch. When the eggs begin hatching, the female king leaves because it eats other snakes primarily – and would likely eat the young. The young are fast, and deadly from the time they hatch. Juvenile king cobras from Thailand have yellow bands across their black bodies and heads. They look radically different from adult king cobra snakes. There is a danger of mistaking them for mangrove cat snakes (Boiga melanota dendrophila).

Young king cobras spend their early months, and possibly years in the trees.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Ophiophagus
Species: O. hannah

Three King Cobras in Thailand
Notice the light band across the back of the mid-body (right) ? Until the King flares his hood you can tell it’s a king by those bands. In addition, the head is very distinctive, and large compared to any other snake except a Python.

The kings in these photos are all beat up from bashing their faces against the cages at a snake show in Thailand. In the wild they are so beautiful… majestic, amazing snakes. I was so glad to see my first one  in the wild. Even better to interact with it. Gotta love Thailand!

Video of a King Cobra breathing – you can hear it:

Update 5/23/2015 – I’ve seen a number of king cobras in the wild now over the years. Four of them have been hundreds of meters high on mountains. Many snake enthusiasts want to come to Thailand to see king cobras, and I have to tell them… the chance of seeing one is slight. I’ve lived in Thailand for ten years and I’ve seen only a handful, and I’m in the rainforest often. Your best bet is to come to the country and stay for a couple of months. Stay at PhanomBenchaMountainResort.com in a bungalow, and hike during the days around there. That’s my best advice.

Thais are a bit crazy about cobras – it is the most easily recognized snake, and though I have met few people that can identify other snakes, most know what a cobra looks like. There are even amulet necklaces of cobras!

More king cobra information and research here.

 

Malayan Krait – Blue Krait – Highly Toxic Venom

White and black Malaysian banded krait. Very dangerous. Very toxic venom to humans.
Bungarus candidus. Malayan Blue Krait, Malayan Krait. Highly toxic and potentially deadly venom. White/black. Scroll down for 1 more photo.

Note: About 50% of all bites from this krait results in human death – even with the administration of anti-venin (antivenom). Death is the usual result if no treatment is given. The closely related Bungarus multicinctus is ranked 3rd in the world for toxicity of venom (terrestrial snakes). Do be careful.

Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait or Blue Krait)

Thais say: Ngoo tap saming kla, or ngoo kan plong

Length: Max length about 1.6 meters in Thailand.

Range: All over Thailand and much of southeast Asia.

Notes: I’ve seen these dead on the side of the road near rubber plantations. Their head is not nearly as large as the yellow / black banded krait. The body doesn’t have the high vertebral ridge like Bungarus fasciatus. Be careful around these snakes.

Habitat: These snakes appear to favor flat country. Not found higher than 1,200 m vertically often. Prefer proximity to water. Prefer rice fields and rice dams. Invades rat holes to use as a nest.

Active Time? The snake is mainly active at night and is not fond of the sunshine. They are shy and attempt to cover their head with their tail. They are active most consistently between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. – this is when I tend to find them.

Food: Other snakes – primarily, but also lizards, mice, frogs and other small animals.

Defensive Behavior: Not usually very aggressive. Shy. They don’t tend to bite unless really provoked. Still, you should never hold one. I have only seen one in a dozen of these snakes attempt to bite, and it was the result of being grabbed with tongs near the head.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic – even more so than the Naja kaouthia (cobras). Bungarus krait venom is neurotoxic and attacks the human nervous system, shutting it down. Coma, brain death, and suffocation due to paralysis of the muscles necessary for crucial functions like the diaphragm, and or heart, are frequent causes of death. Death results usually 12-24 hours after a bite that is not treated. Little or no pain is usually felt at the bite location. The black/white kraits in Thailand are more toxic to humans than are the yellow / black kraits. That said, the yellow-black kraits (Bungarus fasciatus) can still kill you easily.

Here’s a short overview of what happened to one victim of a bite by Bungarus candidus (black-white striped krait):

A patient bitten by Bungarus candidus (Malayan krait) developed nausea, vomiting, weakness, and myalgia 30 minutes after being bitten. One hour later, ptosis and occulomotor palsies as well as tightness of his chest were noted. Respiratory failure requiring mechanical respiration appeared 8 hours after the bite and lasted for nearly 96 hours. The two bite sites were virtually painless and resulted in slight transient erythema and edema. No specific antivenin was available, and treatment consisted of respiratory support and management of aspiration pneumonitis. Recovery was complete. (Department of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University Hospital and the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute of the Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok, Thailand)

Handling: The banded and Malayan blue kraits are not known to bite during the daytime. That doesn’t mean they don’t, it just means they don’t do it commonly. At night these snakes bite rather easily, as evidenced by the numerous bites that occur at night to people usually laying down to sleep on the floor. Handholding the kraits for any reason seems rather absurd to me, yet snake-handlers across the globe do it regularly. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small.

Anti-venin / Antivenom: There is a specific krait antivenin that is given for krait bites. If you don’t have access to that antivenin you can ask the hospital if they have Tiger Snake antivenin – which can be used as a substitute for krait antivenin and works well.

Offspring: Lays 4-10 eggs. Juveniles are 30 cm long at birth. Hatching occurs in June-July in Thailand.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: candidus

(Classified as Bungaris candidus)

Exceptionally venomous neurotoxic venomous snake in Thailand.
Notice the thickness of the bands on this deadly Krait… Wolf snakes have similar coloring and style of bands, but the bands are much thinner. Wolf Snakes are harmless.

Malayan Krait – Blue Krait – Venomous – Deadly

The Malayan Krait, also called Blue Krait, is a deadly Thailand snake with highly toxic venom.
Malayan Krait – or, Blue Krait – Venomous – Deadly

One of the top 10 most toxic terrestrial venomous snakes in the world resides in Thailand, and it is second behind the Bungarus multicinctus in strength of venom, according to LD50 charts for subcutaneous venom injection (in mice), is the Malayan Krait, also called the Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus).

I’ve been looking for one of these snakes in the wild for a couple of years. I don’t herp at night all that much so it was really unlikely that I saw one for a bit of time – but I was due to see this one.

Update 2015 – I’ve seen around one dozen of these snakes. They seem to be active most from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. cruising the ground along sidewalks or rocks. They are not big biters, and I’ve only seen one bite the tongs as I picked it up. These are relatively common snakes in Krabi province.

Here’s the story I put on Youtube about how it came to be that I caught this beautiful krait…

****
This is the mack daddy of all snakes in Thailand, for me. I’ve seen king cobras in the wild. I’ve caught monocled cobras and maybe 30 other kinds of snake. Last night I hit the jackpot by catching the lovely Malayan Krait – the black / white banded snake you see in the video.

I was herping with a guy from the UK, Michael. He found a red-necked keelback about 30 minutes before. We were herping HARD all over this great wildlife area and I was fully prepared to find nothing more. It was hard herping.

I stopped on the sidewalk for a second and was shining my flashlight (9pm) on the greenery just below the sidewalk (and next to it).

I couldn’t mistake the black/white pattern as the blue krait moved just inches from Michael’s feet.

I said loudly – KRAIT KRAIT! Move back, move over here!

My first instinct, before I opened my mouth was to grab that sucker with the tongs and bag him.

As I moved to do that I realized Michael might get a good bite!

It was funny to see in hindsight how my mind worked. I’m glad I thought of him – right? You know how you get so excited you just act? That’s jsut about where I was. I’d looked for years and years for one of these kraits. Finally there it was – 1 foot from me, and I had all the equipment I needed to catch it if I was fast enough…

Anyway – after he moved a safe bit away I gave the initial squeeze with the tongs and pulled it up where we could see it. It was a beauty. I held it for a while as Michael searched through my backback for the snake bag. The krait got loose because I didn’t want to squeeze too hard… I found the bag – and re-found the krait who was already half under a large rock that I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to.

I slowly pulled it out with the tongs and we bagged it.

Today we took this video in the morning.

She was calm… slow for a bit, then woke RIGHT up. You don’t want to miss this video if you handle or plan on handling kraits. They do have the potential to move VERY fast in whatever direction they choose. I was shocked (horrified!) that it came right at me in an instant.

I never felt as alive as in those few seconds, I can tell you truthfully.
Though we tailed it – and were able to handle the krait a little bit – I never felt comfortable with it – and would never hold one, day or night. Least of all night-time.

So – that’s the story.

More info on Bungarus candidus here.

Come to Thailand and herp – and see what we can find!
******

The video is below. You don’t want to miss the video because just after I say something like, “This snake kills a few people a year in Thailand” the krait comes at me totally unexpectedly and I freak out trying to move my feet out of the way and get back. Just by pure luck I filmed it coming at me.

That was one of the scariest moments of my life – and yet my body still reacted to get out of the way. It was totally unexpected – and yet I was able to move fast enough. I don’t know whether it would have bitten me, but I don’t see why not. We had aggravated it for a good 20 minutes and it was probably getting angrier as time went on.

If you work with kraits – don’t be lulled into the false sense of control that you don’t have. The krait can, at any time, turn one of your best days into the worst day of your life. There are rumors that if this krait or the many-banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus) bit you, and you went to the hospital – 50% chance you will STILL die from the venom.  Not sure if that’s true – but, still – it’s damn strong, and nothing to mess with.

Please don’t hand-hold the kraits – ever.

Check out my youtube video page at

http://www.youtube.com/user/thailandsnakes

More info on Bungarus candidus here.

Cheers!

*********

My “Thailand Snakes” Video Channel : Malayan Krait at Youtube:

Juvenile Blue (Malayan) Krait:

Another Adult Malayan Krait in Southern Thailand:

Banded Krait – Venomous – Deadly

These are yellow and black kraits. There are also Blue Kraits which are black and white. And the red headed krait which looks nothing like either of them.

Banded Krait Snake at Bangkok, Thailand Snake Farm
Yellow Banded Krait. Highly venomous, deadly, and relatively common in Thailand. There is a white and black version also called the Blue Krait. See page on right side. This photo is of a man at the Red Cross Snake Farm in Bangkok.

Bungarus Fasciatus (Banded Krait)

Thais say: (ngoo sam lee-um, or ngoo kan plong) This is a bit confused in Thailand where, in southern Thailand any viper is known as Ngoo sam lee-um. Lee-um means triangle, and so some people confuse triangle shaped heads of the vipers with triangle cross-section of the kraits.

Length: average 1.5m up to 2m (about 6.5 feet) In Thailand they don’t usually reach a full 2m.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Asia

Notes: I have yet to see a live banded krait in the wild, except a few dead on the roads – but I don’t go digging up ratholes or termite mounds. I may start if I don’t find one soon. I’ve been looking for three years to find a krait with yellow and black bands like these. At dinner last night I was looking around a small restaurant with many ponds, for snakes. I asked the owner’s son if they had seen any. He said, Ngoo Sam lee-um. SCORE. That’s the one! I’ll get their permission for some late night herping and try to bag one. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. This restaurant is located on a small hill close to sea-level in southern Thailand. There are many frogs at the ponds, and probably many snakes too.

Update 2015- I’ve been to that restaurant numerous times and not had a call from them about this krait. I am not sure they have been found in Krabi. I have found them on the road in Surat Thani, just north.

Habitat: The snake lives on the ground and in rat holes and termite mounds, under stumps or rocks and in other cool, damp places. Recently I saw photos of one in some limestone rocks here in Thailand. I’ve seen large 2 meter dead banded krait just on the outside of a rubber plantation in Surat. They prefer wide open areas. They have been found as high as 1,524 meters in Malaysia and about 2,300 meters in Thailand.

Active Time? The snake is mostly nocturnal and is quite active at night. Most bites occur at night, as the kraits move close to people sleeping – usually on the floor, and probably the person moves and the krait bites. More dangerous at night, during the day they are not biters. These kraits are common in the northeast Thailand provinces. Recently a six year old boy was bitten and could not be revived. The snake had come up into their home in Surin to escape some flooding.

Food: Other snakes almost exclusively – rat and cat (Boiga) snakes. One noted herpetologist states that kraits don’t like to eat water snakes. Will also eat rats, mice, frogs, lizards if snakes cannot be found.

Defensive Behavior: The banded krait is slow acting during the day, lethargic, and usually not interested in striking. However, it can protect itself quite well – it is a strong biter and has been recorded as killing a large type of cattle 60 minutes after a bite.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic. Deadly. This yellow/black banded krait from Thailand is less toxic to humans than monocled cobra venom is, but still QUITE deadly. These snakes rarely bite during the day, but if they do, they can transfer enough venom to kill you. Literature shows someone dying in 30 minutes, another dying in 15 hours. A famous American herpetologist, Joe Slowinski, was killed by a baby krait (Bungarus multicinctus) in Burma while on a remote expedition. They can be quite deadly. The cause of death is that your muscles are paralyzed and your diaphragm can’t work any longer to pull oxygen into your lungs. Kraits are very deadly in this regard. However, if you are able to get to a hospital with a ventilator you will likely be OK. There is no specific antivenin for snake bites from this snake, but polyvalent venom is used – which can also treat bites from Naja kaouthia and Ophiophagus hannah.

Interesting to note… when fed on a live garter snake the krait venom acts instantly to cause death. Apparently krait venom is very efficient with snakes – the krait’s primary diet.

Handling: The banded and Malayan blue kraits are not known to bite during the daytime. However, at night time they bite rather easily, as evidenced by the numerous krait bites that occur at night to people usually laying down to sleep on the floor. I would never handhold kraits like the man is doing in the photo above. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small.

Anti-venin:  Polyvalent. It is advised by experts to get antivenin in your blood stream for krait bites before you have symptoms because, once symptoms develop you may have lost nerve functioning that will not return.

Offspring: Mating in March-April and 4-14 eggs laid about 60 days afterward. The mother krait remains with the eggs for another 60 days before they hatch. Baby kraits are about 30cm long at birth, and have venom. I couldn’t find in the literature whether the mother left the eggs as they started hatching – so she didn’t eat them herself or not. The King Cobra does this instinctively because it also eats other snakes.

Banded Krait’s Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: B. fasciatus

Binomial name
Bungarus fasciatus
Classified by Schneider in year 1801

Photo of 2 Adult Banded Kraits:

2 Banded Kraits - Bungarus fasciatus from southern Thailand, Nakhon si Thammarat province.
Quite deadly, but shy snakes – see the video below.

Video of me with 3 Banded Kraits from Nakhon Si Thammarat, southern Thailand:

Malayan Pit Viper – Venomous – Very Dangerous

Malayan Pit Viper from southern Thailand
Calloselasma rhodostoma. Malayan Pit Viper. Usually under a meter, and thick. Very common. Very dangerous.

Calloselasma rhodostoma (Malayan Pit Viper, Malaysian Pit Viper)

Thais say: Ngoo gap pa

Length: Usually less than 1 meter. Female Malayan Pit Vipers are the larger and fatter snakes. Males of the species don’t make it to 1 meter long.

Range: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Malaysia, Vietnam, Burma, and China.

Notes: These vipers are similar to North American “copperhead” snakes. They prefer dry, flat areas. They are known as lazy snakes. They may not move out of the way at all if someone is walking right toward them. After they bite they are known to remain in the same location. There are thousands of bites per year in Malaysia and Thailand from this snake.

These snakes are so dangerous when handled because they are not consistent with their behavior. One day they will be calm. The next, or the next 10 minutes – they will violently strike out lightening fast. Their preferred habitat is under dry leaves, wood, or rocks. They are active during the night mostly, especially during rain.

Nickname: Finger rotters – given by Al Coritz, Viperkeeper on YouTube. If they get you in the finger – you’ll likely lose part of your finger, hand, or arm without immediate care.

Habitat: Forests, rubber plantations, bamboo patches, farmland, grassland. Often lies in the short or long grass. These are terrestrial snakes that I’ve never seen climb anything.

Active Time? Day if cloudy and/or rainy, and night.

Food: Mice, frogs, lizards. Predominantly rodents.

Defensive Behavior: Partially coiled with neck in an “S”. Their strike is very fast. Their fangs are long – and in the front of the mouth. Some strikes are short, others involve the whole body as it “jumps” at the same time it strikes. Don’t underestimate the distance this snake can reach when striking. Also, this snake is VERY good at striking behind its head. Watch the video.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic. Venom is cytotoxic – it destroys all cells it comes in contact with – red blood cells, muscle, ligaments, and bone. With a quick hospital visit after a bite you may just lose part of your finger, or some tissue where the bite occurred. Most people don’t die if they go to the hospital. Deaths occur when bite victims delay seeking medical treatment. There is antivenom for this snake.

If you are bitten by this snake, do NOT wrap a tight band around the bite location. That will stop the venom from moving, from being diluted, and the tissue will suffer much more destruction.

Offspring: Lay eggs. Female guards them. Young are about 9 inches long and fast and thin. They are fully able to bite, and have full strength venom.

Malayan Pit Viper Eating Mouse Video – close up of large fangs, strike, etc.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotilinae
Genus: Calloselasma
Species:
C. rhodostoma

Binomial Classification:
Calloselasma rhodostoma

Malayan Pit Viper video:

We put out a FREE ebook you can get today.

Photos of Common Thailand Snakes
[ click to join for free and get your copy now]

Free EBook - just for signing up for free newsletter.
Free EBook – just for signing up for free newsletter.

Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps – Deadly

Deadly and Beautiful, the red-headed krait is one of the rare and very venomous elapids living in Thailand's rainforests. This is a closeup photo at 3 a.m. as we found one in Trang, Thailand.
Deadly and Beautiful, the red-headed krait is one of the rare and very venomous elapids living in Thailand’s rainforests.

Red Headed Krait (Bungarus flaviceps)

Thais say: Ngoo sam lee-um hoo-uh si dang

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 1.9 meter specimen in rainforest in the Trang province. I have also found them in Surat Thani, and Krabi provinces.

Habitat: Lowlands and hilly rainforest type habitat. The last four of these snakes I saw were all found at less than 200 meters elevation.

Active Time? Probably active both at night and day. Three of four of these snakes in our local area were found during the daylight.

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: Of the four 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 venom researcher, Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry at his site. (well, now he pulled down his chart). 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. One 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 four of these kraits, and they are quite incredible to find in the wild considering how rare they are. 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 to be by chance.

These snakes have not been studied well in captivity or in the wild, except for the previously mentioned study in which the kraits lived surprisingly long. Usually from what I’ve read, the red-headed krait dies quickly in captivity. These kraits are not known to bite during daytime, but, be exceptionally careful when handling them.

The venter (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. By studying some video one can see how their crawling pattern differs.
6. B. flaviceps has a more sizable head, a wider head, and larger mouth than the coral snake.

7/25/13 Update. At 11:30 pm in a Thailand National Park in Trang Province, a friend and I found a large 1.9+ meter long 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. As with all snakes found, it was released in the same spot as where it was found.

Bungarus flaviceps

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: Bungarus flaviceps

Binomial name: Bungarus flaviceps

Classified by Reinhardt, in year, 1843

Photos of Bungarus flaviceps:

Tailing the red-headed krait, Trang Province, Thailand.
Tailing the red-headed krait around 2 a.m. in the middle of the rainforest, Trang Province, Thailand.
Red-headed krait peaking underneath the tail.
After a krait stops trying to get away, you will be lucky to get a little peak before it covers its head.
The red tail is unmistakably krait. The high-vertebral ridge is one of the differentiators between this snake and the similar in color, Blue Malayan Coral Snake.
The tail is unmistakably krait. The high-vertebral ridge is one of the differentiators between this snake and the similar in color, Blue Malayan Coral Snake.

Video 1 – Large Red-Headed Krait caught in Trang Province, southern Thailand:

Video 2 – Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps caught in southern Thailand:

2nd Part of Red Headed Krait #2 Video:

Brown-Spotted Green Pit Viper – Venomous – Mildly Dangerous

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

Cryptelytrops venustus previously Trimeresurus 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 my long stick.

Habitat: The snake lives almost only on the ground where it hunts 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 all of mine during daylight hours.

Food: Mice, frogs, lizards. Predominantly mice. I have a good sized house gecko in the tank with this Cryptelytrops venustus, but so far she has shown no interest in it. I’ll go get some small mice here shortly. The pit vipers sense the heat of the animal and strike. The geckos are cold blooded so they are no hotter than their surroundings.

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 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. Bites are to be considered potentially deadly. Green Pit Viper Antivenin is available and manufactured by the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, 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.

Classification:

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

I could find little information about this snake beyond my own experience. Joachim Bullian at siam-info.de had some useful information which I’ve added to this article. As I said, I currently have one of these lovely snakes for a couple of days and will be adding info here to this fact sheet as I do updates.

King Cobra Washes Over Waterfall – Phattalung, Thailand

Thanks to Robert Abrams for permission to post these photos and story. Amazing Thailand.
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.

King Cobra at Waterfall

Both images, Copyright 2013 Robert Abrams.

More info about King Cobras here.

Wagler’s Pit Viper – Venomous – Dangerous

Tropidolaemus wagleri - Wagler's Pit Viper - Dangerous
Tropidolaemus wagleri – Wagler’s Pit Viper – Dangerous

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.

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.

Offspring:

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.

Tropidolaemus wagleri

Scientific classification

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:

Triangle Head - Wagler's Pit Viper

Video 1 – Wagler’s Pit Viper – found on a mountain in Krabi province, Southern Thailand.