Category Archives: rear-fanged

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, toads, and fish primarily

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

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.

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)

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 have a juvenile red-necked keelback I’ve taken photos and videos of and will release in the wild tomorrow morning. I cannot find anything much about offspring.

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.

Classification:

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

 

Golden Tree Snake – Mildly Venomous – Not Very Dangerous

Golden Tree Snake - Chrysopelea ornata ornatissima - Southern Thailand
Golden Tree Snake – Venomous – Little Danger to Humans

These Golden Tree Snakes are also known as Flying Snakes. They glide very well, perhaps the best of any snake in the world, and even better than some squirrels and lizards. Golden Tree Snakes are a lime green and black checkered type patterned snake. They are tree dwellers but can climb anything, even walls. They appear to have a favorite food – the Tokay Geckos that reach sizes of 12 inches long in adulthood. They are frequently seen eating Tokays.

Chrysopelea ornata ornatissima (Golden Tree Snake)

Thai language: Ngoo kee-ow ly dok mak

Appearance: Chrysopelea ornata in Thailand is lime green with some black and green cross hatches. This snake’s head is rather flat with a thin neck and atypical blunt nose, large eyes which sometimes are red depending on the angle.

Length: Up to 140 cm (almost 5 feet). They only get about as thick as 2-3 fingers held together.

Range: All over Thailand and many countries in Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Golden Tree Snakes can be found just about anywhere – in an apartment in Bangkok, or climbing bushes at 500 meters vertical elevation. Typically I see them at sea-level crossing the roads, or laying flat out along the stem of a low-lying palm tree branch.

Notes: If you’re trying to catch one of these snakes it can be very difficult. They are excellent escape artists and once they get into a clump of bushes or up a tree – forget it. Go look for something else, you won’t catch it. They can disappear in trees so fast it’s hard to believe.Occasionally you can find these in caves – they eat bats too.

Active Time? Diurnal – daytime.

Food: Small geckos, lizards, large Tokay geckos, rodents, bird eggs, insects, another snake occasionally, and bats. Golden Tree Snakes kill by squeezing the neck of their prey, crushing it.

Natural Enemies: King cobras and Kraits will eat these snakes when they can catch them. When they are small, birds eat them.

Defensive Behavior: Golden Tree Snakes (flying snakes) bite quickly when played with. As adults they may not lose that temperament. As babies – I have one now for some photos and video, they lose it quickly – and are OK with being held. They are very fast snakes when escaping.

Venom Toxicity: Rear fanged mildly venomous snake – but the venom is not known to be dangerous to humans. Just the same, don’t let it bite down on you more than a second or two before you remove it. Don’t give this snake a chance to inject a lot of venom and you’ll likely be just fine if no allergies to it. There have been no confirmed cases of medically significant envenomation with Golden Tree Snakes.

Offspring: Little is known about the breeding habits of these snakes because nobody can seem to get them to mate while captive. Being oviparous it lays 6-12 eggs in May-June and they hatch in June. Baby snakes are 11-15cm long (4-6″)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Chrysopelea
Species: C. ornata
Binomial name: Chrysopelea ornata

Discovered, classified by Shaw, 1802

Golden Tree Snake Photo:

In Thailand the golden tree snakes typically have this coloration and pattern.
In Thailand the golden tree snakes typically have this coloration and pattern.

Video: My Baby Golden Tree Snake in Thailand:

Keeled Rat Snake – Ptyas carinata – Not Dangerous

Keeled rat snake from southern Thailand - venomous, but no effect on humans.
Keeled Rat Snake – Ptyas carinatus – Not Dangerous (not deadly)

Keeled Rat Snake (Ptyas carinatus / carinata)

Thais say: Ngoo noo

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.

Offspring: 

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.

Ptyas carinatus

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Ptyas
Species: carinatus or carinata
Binomial name: Ptyas carinatus, P. carinata

Günther, 1858

Ptyas carinatus - Keeled Rat Snake, a non-venomous snake in Thailand.

Video of a small Ptyas carinata I caught crawling among limestone cliffs in Krabi province, Thailand:

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.

*******

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.

Venom Characteristics (from http://www.afpmb.org/content/venomous-animals-r#Rhabdophissubminiatus)

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.

Dog-Toothed Cat Snake – Boiga Cynodon Photos

Amazing colors and eyes on the Boiga cynodon - yes?

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've hand-held the dog-toothed cat snakes before and no problem... but this one struck at me repeatedly.

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:

Boiga cynodon

Striped Bronzeback Snake – Thailand – Dendrelaphis caudolineatus

Striped bronzeback snake from southern Thailand
Striped Bronzeback Snake - Thailand - Dendrelaphis caudolineatus

I had a juvenile striped bronzeback a little while back – video here.

These are fast, tree climbing snakes that are active during the daytime and are frequently found in residential areas. They love frogs and lizards, from what I’ve seen them eat.

These snakes are exceptionally beautiful. They are rather nervous – meaning, they are very aware of what is going on around them – like an Indo-Chinese rat snake – antsy and ready to bolt in a second if given the opportunity. This one is in an aquarium, and when I slid the top off to the back just slightly – it was enough for him to fly out of the top and almost lost in the tree next to us. I was able to get his tail and put him back in the cage without any problem, but it reinforced just how fast these snakes are – similar to the golden tree snakes in speed and habit, personality.

Golden Tree Snake – Chrysopelea ornata ornatissima – Common in Thailand

Golden Tree Snake - Thailand - Chrysopelea ornata ornatissima mildly venomous, no danger to humans.
Golden Tree Snake - Thailand - Chrysopelea ornata ornatissima

These are like the road runner of snakes – they are super fast, thin, and agile. They can climb trees and bushes faster than any other snake I’ve seen, and they are wicked fast on the strike. Yesterday I saw one strike so fast I couldn’t see it. That’s fast.

These are very common snakes here in Thailand, they are definitely one of the top 5 snakes you are likely to see in this country. On average I see 1-2 a week – without looking for them. They are constantly snaking across the roads. I have given chase about a dozen times and was only fast enough to catch them 4 out of 12 times. Once they hit the green brush – forget it man – they are impossible to find or catch if you do see them. So, best chance to catch this snake is on the road if you can jump off your motorcycle or out of your vehicle fast enough.

These snakes bite fast and often, and they do have venom, but the venom is only toxic to frogs, lizards, and other small animals – not usually humans. If you happen to be allergic to the venom, you could still go into shock, though I’ve not seen any cases of this in the literature.

More information available at the Chrysopelea ornata ornatissima fact sheet ->

Malayan Bridle Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Malayan Bridle Snake - Dryocalamus subannulatus - Not Dangerous

Name: Dryocalamus subannulatus.

I am not 100% on this ID, it could also be a Common Bridle Snake or a Laotian Wolf Snake.

Length: 70cm – measured

Description: This is a thin snake the thickness of a finger. It has black blobs, that can almost be called stripes when looked at from overhead. From the side, as you can see in the image above, the black spots are more like circles stretched out across the body. Further down the snake’s body the stripes change substantially and are completely different in appearance – see 2nd photo below. The eyes of this snake are rather large compared to the very small head. The head is slightly smaller than the neck of the snake. There are two very small rear-fangs seen upon inspection of the mouth. The head of this snake is not elongated in a long triangle like the Lycodon family of snakes – so I’m going with Bridle snake. However, the striking behavior of these snake is identical to Lycodon – in particular the Laotian Wolf Snakes. So, possibility exists that it is that snake, and not a Malayan Bridle Snake.

Range: Thailand’s south and Malaysia. This snake was found in Krabi province.

Habitat: Bushes, trees, and dwellings. This snake is not as common as the Laotian Wolf Snake, but likes the same kind of habitat. Searches trees and structures for geckos primarily. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush.

Active Time? Mostly nocturnal.

Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily.

Defensive Behavior: Very inaccurate strikers. They strike almost randomly, just to scare off whatever is bothering them. I’ve been struck at repeatedly and never had her connect with teeth.

Venom Toxicity: Weak or none. Ineffective for humans if there is any venom. The fangs are quite minute – less than the diameter of a regular stick pin.

Offspring: Nothing known about this area.

Notes: These are great snakes, feisty at first, and then, as they get used to people – can be handheld without striking. There is a very real danger of mistaking these harmless snakes with a Malayan, Many Banded, or Banded krait – all of which are deadly. Kraits can get bigger than 1 meter. This snake, and the other harmless black and white banded snakes – will not get over 70cm generally.

Scientific classification: Dryocalamus subannulatus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Dryocalamus
Species: D. subannulatus

Mid-body photo of Malayan Bridle Snake to show the difference of the stripes in the tail. Here you can see more clearly the true color of the snake which is brown and white, not black and white as might be assumed from the other image.

Video of this Malayan Bridle Snake from Southern Thailand:

Striped Bronzeback Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Dendrelaphis caudolineatus – Not Venomous – Not Dangerous

“Dendrelaphis caudolineatus” (Striped bronzeback snake)

Length: Up to about 1.5 meters. The males are a bit more red on top, and slightly thinner.

Range: The Striped Bronzeback is found in southern Thailand through the Malaysian Peninsula, and to Singapore, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and the Philippines. The snake shown here was caught in Tub Kaak, Krabi Province in southern Thailand.

Habitat: Forests and lowlands up to about 1,500 meters. They are found on trees primarily, and often on the ground too in search of prey.

Active Time? Diurnal – daylight.

Food: Frogs, lizards, some say small birds in the nest.

Defensive Behavior: A quick bite – coiled beforehand, or not. I was bitten when I grabbed his tail when I first saw him. I expected it. He caused a little blood on the top of my pointer finger by the big knuckle. There are a couple small bumps there now. I experienced no serious symptoms.

Venom Toxicity: No venom. No danger.

Offspring:

Notes: Striped bronzeback snakes are somewhat larger than the other bronzebacks, and can get up to about 1.5 meters. The one in the photo and video below was caught at about 300 meters elevation (900+ feet) on a fallen tree. I stepped over the tree and the snake fell to the ground and attempted to hide under another rotting tree stump. I had to decide in about 1 second whether the snake was venomous and whether I could step lightly on his tail to stop him from disappearing. I saw the tell-tale head shape and stripe down the side and knew it was a bronzeback, but there are about 6 species of bronzeback in Thailand. I hadn’t caught one of these until today.

These snakes are diurnal – active during daylight hours and are excellent climbers, as all bronzebacks are. They are twitchy snakes, and this one bit me when I first grabbed him. I had to pull him off my index finger slowly to prevent injuring him. He bit down hard for his tiny size (about 10 inches). These snakes love frogs and other small animals – geckos included.

This species of bronzeback has a black stripe on a light background running from it’s neck to it’s tail. The belly is white or yellowish. This snake does not have the stripe across the eye like some of the other bronzebacks. The top of the head is brown – bronze color as is the top of this snake’s back.

The eye is large, like a rat snake, and the head is long almost like a whip snake, but wider in comparison to the body. Unlike other bronzebacks, the vertebral scales are not enlarged but are narrow in shape. Its lower cheeks and lips are pale yellow with small black marks or stripes running vertically near the snout.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Dendrelaphis
Species: D. caudolineatus

“Dendrelaphis caudolineatus”
(Discovered by Gray in the year 1834)

Striped Bronzeback Snake Video:

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...