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:

Thailand Snake Journal – Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute

Small boy learning about Burmese Python in Bangkok Snake Show - Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute.
Brave boys with a Burmese Python at Queen Saovabha Memorial Center, Bangkok, Thailand.

Yesterday I went to the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute created by the Thai Red Cross Society in Bangkok, Thailand. Doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with snakes – does it?

It’s all about snakes in Thailand actually. This institute is located on the or next to the Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital – a very prestigious hospital in Thailand.

Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute
The Thai Red Cross Society

1871 Rama IV Road, Phathumwan
Bangkok, Thailand 10330
Tel: 022.520.1614 or 1617
www.saovabha.or.th
Email: qsmi@webmail.redcross.or.th

The cost was 200 Thai baht to get in and see the snakes. There is an outdoor display area where there were a couple of non-native snake species like a python from South America. The king cobra exhibit was under renovations. There were some green anacondas, also native to South America. I’ll use some of the photos of the Javan File Snake and striped keelbacks on the appropriate snake pages inside the site here. In total, outside were about 12 types of snakes.

Inside the snake institute were snakes in glass tubes that were dead and illuminated with light. The colors of the snakes were all washed away due to the chemicals used to preserve them. That wasn’t so helpful. The red-necked keelback, a very common Thailand snake, was in one of these bottles and was white. These are one of the most colorful snakes Thailand has in the country. It was sad to see them as white and void of color. Misleading quite a bit too if you don’t know all the white snakes have a lot of color.

On the second floor of the institute building were some educational displays designed to teach people the basics about Thailand snakes.

The best part of the visit to the “snake farm” as it’s called on signs there, was the snake handling for a small crowd of about thirty of us. There were many children in the audience and they had a good time touching the snakes and holding a Burmese Python that was tame – captive bred, and didn’t bite at all.

The snake handlers showed us banded yellow kraits, a spunky king cobra, the Burmese Python, a green white-lipped pit viper, and a monocled cobra – a large specimen.

The presenter spoke constantly in Thai and good English to give as much information as possible in the 30 minute show. It was a good experience and I learned something… pythons are bigger than anacondas. See, everyone can learn something…

I recommend you visit this snake farm if you have a chance in Bangkok. It is not really as nice as I expected, and there is a limited number of live snakes in the displays – maybe 30 types? They say there are more than 200 species of snake in Thailand and over 60 of them are venomous. Why do they only show about 30 of them? I guess I wanted this place to exceed my expectations and have all the snakes of Thailand represented. Sounds like something someone should do at some point.

Thailand has a lot of amazing snake species which you can find out a lot about by visiting this center, and other snake places across the country. And, don’t forget this site, of course.

Schedule for Demonstrations:

Hours: Monday – Friday 0830 – 1630
Snake House Visitation:  0930 – 1530
Venom Extraction: 1100
Snake Handling: 1430
Sat / Sun / Holidays open:  0930 – 1300
Snake Handling: 1100

Map to Queen Saovabha Snake Farm:
(click to enlarge)

Queen Saovabha Snake Farm Map - Bangkok, Thailand
Click Snake Farm map to enlarge.

Video of King Cobra Handling Exhibition at Queen Saovabha Snake Farm:

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. I just wrote a story about that on ThaiPulse.com/blog/. 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.

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:

Which Snake Venom Can Shrink Your Testicles – 3 YEARS AFTER THE BITE?!

The Russel's viper, or "Chain viper" from central Thailand. Venomous, deadly, and shrinks your testicles.

The Russell’s Viper or Chain Viper, Daboia viper snakes kill more people across the globe than any other snake. Their fangs are long, strong, and permit a lot of venom to be transferred in an instant.

ONE OF THE COMPLICATIONS OF A BITE FROM THIS SNAKE IS THAT A MAN’S TESTICLES MAY SHRIVEL (testicular atrophy), AND THERE MAY BE A LOSS OF PUBIC HAIR.

3 YEARS AFTER THE BITE!

(Source – WHO – World Health Organization publication, “Guidelines for the Clinical Management of Snake bites in the South-East Asia Region.”)

Needless to say, this is NOT a snake you want to be bitten by.

THAILAND LOCATION –  This species is located in Central Thailand – meaning Bangkok and Pattaya areas. There is no reason it couldn’t be found outside that range because ranges often change as snakes are discovered in places they previously were not found.

This and other species of Daboia are also found across much of Asia.

CAUTIONS – The Russel’s viper is a primarily nocturnal snake that crawls along the ground. It is found on paths, sidewalks, in backyards, and really almost anywhere. Do not walk at night without a flashlight. Do not walk in high grass or plants where you cannot see clearly to the ground. This is the type of cover these vipers may be found in, day or night.

ANTIVENIN – monovalent, “Russell’s Viper Antivenin.” Developed at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Scientific classification

Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Viperinae
Genus: Daboia
Species: D. siamensis
Trinomial name
Daboia siamensis

Image Copyright ©2011 Tom Charlton.

What DON’T You Want Hiding in Your Motorbike?

Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostema), is a deadly snake that bites in response to heat sources. This snake is located in Thailand and is hiding inside a motorbike at night.

Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostema). Deadly bites are possible mainly due to brain hemorrhage (bleeding), but most people just lose some of their flesh to this snake. The venom is a very strong and is cytotoxic. It destroys living cells of all sorts, including muscle and bone. This is the snake you really don’t want to be hiding in your motorbike in Thailand!

Bharath contacted me by email just after I went to sleep last night. He said his wife was touched on the leg by the snake which was hiding in the motorbike. Apparently no bite. LUCKY DAY!

Photo ©2014 Bharath Bellur.

Worldwide Snake Identification Site

A few years back I implemented a feature on this site that I wasn’t sure would be used very often, but I thought it would be nice to have for visitors and expats living in Thailand. The feature was the Snake ID Form – you can see the link for it over on the right side column.

Well, after more than three years we’ve had nearly 1,500 form submissions by people requesting help to identify snakes. We charged nothing for it, and though it was sometimes a month or more before we could tackle the list of submissions, we eventually got around to all of them.

Yesterday I had a thought. Why not offer a worldwide service to help people ID snakes they find in ANY country?

It was a great thought, and again, I couldn’t figure out whether it would be worth it or not. It’s always a lot of time to build a new site and have it do well online. There is so much competition. Snakes are a fascinating subject and there are so many people that have their own websites they’re trying to make successful.

Long story short, I went for it this morning. I bought the domain SnakeIdentification.org and have the rudimentary beginning of a website there. A lot will be changing in the next few days. I hope to be able to make this work because I think it’s something the world needs. If you can help in any way by linking to the site, that would be so helpful. Let me know if you do and I’ll see if there’s anything I can do for you in return.

Cheers!

Vern

 

Snake Database Research Project

© 2014 Vern Lovic
© 2014 Vern Lovic

I’ve considered, on a couple of different occasions, creating a large database of snakes in Asia that could be used as a reference tool for anyone that wanted to join (free). I was thinking, start with Thailand snakes first. The data on each snake would be as comprehensive as possible. At the moment there are separate resources we can use to find information about specific species. The information is not up to date in most, and is not comprehensive by any means.

If anyone is interested in joining this project, do let me know. If there is enough interest, we can move forward with it. Information for each species would be exhaustive. Everything that is known about each. Photos of hatchlings, juvenile, and adult snakes. Photos of snake skins. Photos of eggs. Photos of environment typically frequented. Venom characteristics. Links to articles in the literature that provide more scientific information. Links to venom experts in the case of envenomation. Scale counts would be included. Latest finds would be included. New snakes not yet classified will have pages.

There really needs to exist a comprehensive database with everything that is known about a particular species, in one place online. This database would be an attempt at that.

This would be an ideal project for students looking to gain notoriety in the field and to make contacts with other snake enthusiasts around the globe.

Just a thought at the moment. Anybody want to move forward with it?

Recent Snake Bites in Thailand – King Cobra and Malayan Pit Viper

Malayan pit viper with eggs
Calloselasma rhodostoma (Malayan Pit Viper) with eggs.

Here’s a bit of news out of Krabi province. Just in the last month I’ve come across two people that were bitten by two of the worst snakes in the country, in all of the world really.

The first case was almost expected. I mean, you work with deadly snakes everyday, multiple times each day, and you’ll eventually slip up and one will get you. That’s what happened to a young 19 year old that works at a cobra show. He was doing the show with the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). He was on his knees and moving his head around to entice the snake to strike. He stopped moving for a brief second, and the snake struck at his shoulder. The bite was more of a scrape, but it definitely scraped the shoulder of the boy pretty deeply. His scar looks serious enough. To be bitten on the shoulder right there, near the heart and near some big blood vessels probably would not have resulted in a good situation had he been envenomated. But, he lucked out tremendously. The big cobra didn’t inject any venom. LUCKY OWEN!

As you probably know, king cobras have a venom that is not all that potent. I mean, it’s comparable with pit viper venom as far as cytotoxic damage it does, but it also has the neurotoxic component that renders muscle useless and stops the heart and breathing. The exceptional power of the king cobras bite is that it can transfer up to 7 ml of venom into the body of a victim. The usual amount is about .5 ml, and that’s enough to kill most people with a good bite.

The second case of snake bite in Krabi happened to a woman that was working in her garden at mid-day. There had been no rain at all for about two months prior to the bite incident. She kept her garden water on a lot during the day so she could water her plants. The snake, a Malayan pit viper, was coiled under some plants enjoying the cool water. She put her hand close to where it was, and ZAP. It tagged her with both fangs on the hand. She quickly wento to the hospital, but never did present any symptoms. Another dry bite! So, two-for-two here in Krabi.

Venomous snake bites result in a dry bite around 50% of the time. That means that you have a 50-50 chance that there will be no other complications other than the damage to your skin where the fangs penetrated.

Be careful in your garden, and walking around. May through December is the time in Thailand and many bordering countries where snakes are at their most abundant and most active. Be especially careful not to tread on or near the Russell’s Viper or Malayan Pit Viper. These are two vipers that are well hidden on the ground and don’t tend to move out of the way when someone is walking toward them. At night – use a flashlight (torch) to see where you’re putting your feet as you walk. You do NOT want to be bitten by a venomous snake in Thailand. Take care!

 

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