Category Archives: rear-fanged

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...

Thailand Snake Journal – Found Rare Keel-Bellied Vine Snake (Dryophiops rubescens)

Brown Whip Snake - Keel-bellied Whip Snake - Dryophiops rubescens caught in Thailand
Brown Whip Snake - Keel-bellied Whip Snake - Dryophiops rubescens

Found another one of these whip snakes – they are supposed to be either red or brown… I guess this could be called brown. The head is more brown. The neck and up to the stomach is silver… with some black patches… and then the tail is reddish brown. It could well be the red variety because as I compare photos with the other brown whip snake I had before – they are quite different in coloration. This one is predominantly silver – for the neck and down to the beginning of the tail. The tail gets dark – and there is a reddish tint to the brown… So, not sure.

Lovely snakes. These are vine snakes and very fast in the wild. I found him on the ground amongst leaves and rocks… sandy dirty. He was about to enter an 8 inch diameter drain pipe. It did take a bit to catch him – and once I got him he was fine – no bites until I had to grab his tail to pick him up. He was not ok with that and tagged my finger very quickly – a little blood.

There were people around and they were all screaming Pit Pit! (Venomous) It isn’t… Thais call all snakes venomous – which is part of the problem here – they kill any snake they see, insisting it’s venomous. The other part of the problem is that in Thailand there are 60+ venomous snakes. Most people can’t be bothered to study them all and know the difference. I don’t know all of them either.

This one I knew though. Great snake – will keep it for a couple of days and let it go where I found it.

Common names: Keel-bellied vine snake; keel-bellied whip snake; brown whip snake; red whip snake (more red).

Video of this Brown Whip Snake below:

Paradise Tree Snake (Chrysopelea paradisi) – Mildly Venomous – Not Dangerous

Paradise Tree Snake - Chrysopelea paradisi - from Krabi, Thailand and also called, flying snake
Paradise Tree Snake – Not Dangerous – Just Beautiful

These are great snakes for a couple of reasons. Number 1 – their colors. This snake looks like Christmas – right? Amazing oranges, greens, and blacks assault your senses.

Number 2? They fly. They glide very far when they jump from a high vantage point. They can glide dozens of meters – and probably more, these snakes are limited only by how high they are when they jump. Typically they use their gliding ability to travel from tree to tree in search of prey, or to elude capture by a predator.

I don’t know how long the link will be here – but, here is a page full of snakes in this family – jumping and gliding. Amazing videos…

Tree snakes flying videos

Name: Chrysopelea paradisi. Paradise Tree Snake. Also called “flying snake” and “ornate flying snake”.

Length: As long as 1.2 meters (almost 4 feet)

Range: Thailand-wide. This one was found in Krabi province at sea-level in a handbag shop at the beach. We’ve found them in rainforest near a Thailand resort as well.

Habitat: Bushes, ground, trees, roofs. They are often found in palm tree fronds. I have found them there as well as small trees with big leaves and a lot of open area so they can see – presumably. I have found them as high as 500 meters vertically up a mountain in Thailand, and at sea level. Recently we found one 7 meters up a large tree on a hot sunny day.

Active Time? Diurnal – active during the day.

Food: House geckos, Tokay geckos, bats, and frogs.

Defensive Behavior: They bite very quickly, but have small mouths and teeth. There has been no medically significant case of envenomation mentioned in the literature. They are considered harmless for humans and probably pets over the size of a cat.

Venom Toxicity: Weak for humans. Effective for geckos, frogs and bats. These are rear-fanged colobrids and a prolonged bite could cause swelling and pain at the bite site.

Offspring: They produce eggs which hatch during May/June in Thailand.

Notes: Paradisi is distinguished from ornata ornatissima by the orange/red coloration at the top of the body, sometimes at the head, sometimes more of the body is colored, and sometimes the entire head and body are covered in the red flower like scale patterns.

Full body of Paradise Tree Snake (Chrysopelea paradisi) from Krabi, Thailand
This one tried to bite many times and calmed after 10 minutes.
Singapore Paradise Tree Snake eating Gecko
This paradise tree snake was caught grabbing gecko lunch in Singapore by David Joseph.  Copyright 2011 – David Joseph. Used with permission.

Chrysopelea paradisi - the Flying Snake

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Chrysopelea
Species: C. paradisi
Binomial name – Chrysopelea paradisi
Classified by Boie, in the year 1827

Video of C. paradisi found 5/23/13: