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

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.

Are Thailand Snakes Dangerous to Visitors?

A deadly Thailand snake, the red-headed krait (Bungarus flaviceps). These are extremely rare.
A deadly Thailand snake, the red-headed krait (Bungarus flaviceps). These are extremely rare.

I often receive email from people that are deathly afraid of venomous and other snakes in Thailand. Some people refuse to visit the country after finding a website like ThailandSnakes.com. They get the idea that snakes are rampant all over Thailand and that they are unavoidable. The truth is much different. You are not likely to see any snakes in Thailand during your visit. Even if you go looking for them, snakes are difficult to locate. The other night I went out for over three hours in the heart of snake country, and still didn’t find any snake.

Anyway, here is an email I just sent to someone to help allay fears of snakes in Thailand.

* * * * *

Hi Brian,

Snakes are really about the least harmful things you could ever come across for a couple of reasons…

1. They have no legs or arms. They are basically a long tail. They cannot move fast on the ground, I mean fast in comparison to humans. We can easily outrun any snake that exists.
2. Only the very large pythons in Thailand might target a human being as prey. Everything else gets away as fast as possible – even when confronted.
3. There are about 8 deaths per year due to venomous snake bite in Thailand. Probably every one of them are plantation workers that get bitten, apply some “magical salve” made of ground leaves and roots, and then, when they realize their foot or hand is gangrenous – go to the hospital too late. Occasionally a snake handler is bitten and dies – they tease the snakes mercilessly, day after day, and eventually a snake gets in a lucky bite.
4. You have to really piss snakes off before most of them will bite… or, be too close. So, don’t get close and don’t aggravate them.

I have never heard of a tourist, visitor, foreigner, being bitten by and killed by a deadly snake in Thailand. People have cobras in their yard, vipers, whatever else… the snakes do NOT want to see humans and will get away at every opportunity.

Just be cautious walking in grass outside. Don’t walk anywhere you cannot see where your feet are stepping.

If you see a snake in your yard – grab a photo, send it to me, and I’ll let you know if it was venomous. If so, and you see it again and can watch where it goes – call the EMS or police in your area, and they’ll know the snake guys that can come take it away for you.

If you’re bitten by a snake, stay calm and go to the hospital. Venom usually takes hours before you’re debilitated. Wait to see if symptoms even develop. A good portion of bites don’t include envenomation. They are dry bites, so to speak. Little or no venom is released through the fangs during a dry bite. There have been studies done with cobras and vipers that show that 30-50% of bites are dry bites, even when the snake is directly stepped on.

Hope this helps. I’ll repost it at the thailandsnakes.com site. Maybe it will help someone else relax a bit about snakes here.

Cheers,

Vern L.

www.ThailandSnakes.com
www.Facebook.com/ThailandSnakes
www.youtube.com/user/thaipulsedotcom
www.youtube.com/user/ThailandSnakes

Gonglyosoma balliodeira – Orange Bellied Snake

Gonglyosoma balliodeira from the side. Copyright 2013 Vern Lovic.

 

Gonglyosoma balliodeira belly color. Copyright 2013 Vern Lovic.

 

Gonglyosoma balliodeira top-down view.  Copyright 2013 Vern Lovic.

Gonglyosoma / Gonglyosoma balliodeira

Rupert Lewis from the United Kingdom was out herping in Thailand a couple nights ago and came upon this little beauty. It’s Gonglyosoma balliodeira or possibly a subspecies. I say possibly because I can’t find any information about the snake online at all. A Google search on image and text of the name of the snake produces nothing but the name, classification and who first found it (Boie). I did find one report of this snake being found in Borneo at 2,000 feet elevation on Mt. Penrissen.

Rupert had an illustration he found in a book that identified it as Gonglyosoma, but that’s about all we know from information found in books or online.

The snake was caught at night in Krabi Noi rainforest (Krabi province, Thailand) after midnight on a half-moon night. The elevation was roughly 100 meters above sea level.

This snake is about 40 cm in length and under 5 cm in girth at its thickest. It is smooth-scaled and Rupert counted 8 diagonal scales to the vertebral column.

The snake was cooperative and did not attempt to bite.

This is a new range for this snake, as previously they have not been found in Krabi province. They are rare in Thailand at all, and have only been found in some of the southernmost provinces.

The photos are copyright 2013 Vern Lovic, with many thanks to Rupert Lewis for sharing this snake with me.

Video of Gonglyosoma balliodeira:

Herping Southern Thailand – 5 Snakes + 1 Bonus

Boiga dendrophila. Mangrove cat-eyed snake. Southern Thailand. Boiga dendrophila. Mangrove cat-eyed snake. Bungarus candidus. Malayan krait, Blue krait. Lycodon albofuscus. Lycodon albofuscus

Last night I got out to go herping with Anders from Denmark and Rupert from the UK. We went to the usual spot, I arrived at 6:20pm. As I was pulling into the parking lot I saw a small (30cm) bronzeback snake coming across the dirt road. I slowed, stopped and jumped out with a snake bag in my hand, intending on trapping him with it before grabbing him. I hate being bitten by anything – even a harmless snake. It’s no good for the snake either as they can lose teeth when they bite forcibly.

The snake had other plans and reversed course immediately disappearing into the thick brush as I ran after it helplessly. This one was smart.

Met up with the guys and took some photos of the Lycodon albofuscus Rupert had brought over for a show and tell. He said it was the snake he had the hardest time with for photos – and hoped to get better ones. We did, it was exceptionally calm this night and we both got some great shots.

We grabbed some water and headed out for 3 hour herp that turned up nothing. Well not nothing, we saw numerous lizards and geckos, some cool frogs, bats, spiders, but no snakes. I was out in front of the other 3 guys (Richard came as well), and headed up to the pools of water to see what I could find.

It wasn’t long before – Bang – I saw a common wolf snake (Lycodon) cruising up a rock beside me, then down to hit the walkway… I followed him for a while, just looking at him closely. I’ve caught so many of these snakes I don’t bother with photos. It’s a pain to drag the camera out of the bag and set it up. I’d have had to stop the snake from his journey to get my stuff ready. As it turns out, Rupert wanted to see a good specimen of that snake, and wanted better photos – but I didn’t know at the time. Oops.

Walked some more and Bang – a mangrove cat snake of maybe a meter and some in the palm tree above me about 20 feet high. I yelled SNAKE and tried to get the other guys attention. As I did I was shining my torch (flashlight) on the restaurant where they had gone back to eat. Bang – another big mangrove cat snake swimming in the moonlight. Wow… I love to see that. Wish I had a video of it, but it happened too quickly. He came right over to the bank below me. I crept down and grabbed him with the tongs and by the tail with my hand and picked him up onto the sidewalk.

He was big and lively – 2 meters easy, thick like my wrist and almost my forearm. Beautiful snake. Photos here are of that snake.

We shot some photos and a quick video and kept going. It was about 11pm (2300 hrs) when Rupert yelled “KRAIT” from down in the rocks. We all got down there immediately and were rewarded with a 1 m+ Blue krait (Malayan krait), the Bungarus candidus. Most venomous terrestrial snake in Thailand – as long as there are no Bungarus multicinctus running around in the north, which I suspect there must be.

We shot photos and videos and then shortly after, called it a night.

I get a message this morning on my phone from Rupert…

“Hey vern, I wasn’t tired when you left last night so I went out alone and caught a very rare snake. I put it in the backup box I brought. Even more reason for you to come out today. Could be a new subspecies or even a new species in itself!”

I can’t believe the nerve of that guy! Going out without me! I thought he was going to go sleep…

Anyway, so looks like I’d better get out there today and see what he found.

Come to Thailand to check out the reptiles, amphibians, birds, whatever it is you’re into. This place is paradise for nature lovers.

Tonight we’ll go to another 2 different mountains that I rarely get to herp at. Should be a blast. Will post photos, videos, if we get something.

Cheers,

Vern

Tropidolaemus wagleri - Wagler's Pit Viper - Dangerous

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.

Thailand Snakes Facebook Page – Join Us Over There

Thailand Snakes forum over at Facebook
Thailand Snakes forum over at Facebook

We have a Thailand Snakes Facebook page now. We created the page to make it easier for people to join and post photos and videos, articles that related to Thailand snakes. We have 128 members, but a lot of people in the old Thailand Snakes Forum – are not over there yet.

Here is the URL: http://www.facebook.com/ThailandSnakes

Here is the link: Thailand Snakes Page at Facebook

Thailand Snake Stories

Not a new ebook, sorry to say, but just going back and forth with a guy that worked in Thailand a long time ago and wanted to share a couple stories with me. I shared one back. Thought I’d share it with you all. Thanks to Ray for letting me post his emails.

His 1st email to me:

I am not sure this is the place I should be posting this past experience but I wanted to share the past in Thailand with someone. I was in the military from 1971 to 1972 in Thailand and stayed until 1975 as a civilian contractor. I worked on top of Green Hill national park from 1973 to 1974. We would travel 1 hour up to work and 1 hour down every day after a 12 hour shift. We saw many things during our trips to work. Elephants, tigers, wild chickens (fun to catch) and many many snakes. Previously I was at Thakli for over a year and the road kill of snakes at the beginning of the rainy season was common place. Cobras and rock pythons were the largest and flatest. BUT… in the national park, Khao Yai, Khao Keo the books and the statistics did not apply.

One morning on the way to work up the hill the driver slammed on the breaks. What we saw was a Banded Krait crossing the road. My boss said “yell when its tail is at the center line” I did and immediately looked to the left and its head was about a foot past the asphalt. Now this snake was moving really slow with very little bend in its body. Small head and tail with a body that is more of a triangle in the mid portion. And it was FAT. O.K. we were impressed….off to work.

On the way home that evening John, my boss had Lek stop the car at the same point we saw the snake that morning. (understand, I am young and stupid then) I get out of the car and lay down on the road where the snake crossed. I put my toes on the center line of the road..stretched out my arms…and my fingers just touched the edge of the asphaslt. I was and am 5’4″ tall. Do the math and this Banded Krait was over 6 foot long. From what I have read… they only get a little over a meter long.

I know what I saw in a jungle that was basically indisturbed for decades, if not century’s.

My point is that somewhere in this world there are sitll very dangerous animals and creatures that we may never see. And the books are only a guideline.

Thanks for letting me share.

Ray

My response:

Hi Ray,

Thanks for the story. Enjoyed it!

Banded kraits do, occasionally reach 2 meters. I have seen one almost that big, but not quite. Here is my Banded krait page with what I know about them.

http://www.thailandsnakes.com/venomous/banded-krait-venomous-deadly/

You are right, and I’m with you on the fact that what the books say, what the websites say, and what the self-appointed experts say, is just what people have experienced in the past. Two days ago on a hike up a mountain, I found a new species of snake. It’s probably in the keelback family, but there is no such snake classified up to this point in time. I found another new snake near the top of a mountain about 2 years ago too. Nobody had EVER recorded it. So, I’m just one person that found 2 new snakes in the course of looking in Thailand sporadically. There must be dozens more out there that we don’t know about. That’s a cool thought.

Besides that, the general facts in most books are off. What snakes eat… whether diurnal or nocturnal, whether they mate during these months, or others… there is QUITE a bit that is off in the literature. I use books and scientific studies as a guideline, but I don’t believe much of it to be undisputed fact.

Now, here’s a story for you…

It was almost 2 years ago. I took my motorbike up a mountain that few people ever travel up. It was middle of day, about 11:30 AM. I was looking for snakes on the road, crossing the road, and knew I had half a chance to find one, but didn’t really expect to. I just had some time and decided to give it a shot.

I stopped the bike and parked it. I walked up the road, then back… then turned around where I’d just walked from. About 3-4 meters from me was the tail of a snake disappearing into the dense brush on the side of the road. The tail covered the entire lane of the street – same side as me. My brain told me over and over that my eyes were lying to me, and it refused to process the information. What I was looking at was the largest King Cobra tail I’d ever seen… and I’d seen over 100 adult king cobras at the snake farm where I’m a regular, going every couple days in Krabi.

The reason my brain wouldn’t work, is that the tail DWARFED the largest 5.5 meter king cobra tail I’d ever seen. It was double the size of it. It was almost like a dinosaur was disappearing into the brush. My breathing stopped – i literally couldn’t breath because it all was just too much to grasp. There was no way in hell I could have gone into the rubber tree plantation to look for the snake, I was in shock. I did, after a couple minutes of standing there stunned, walk over to the bushes and give a cursory glance in to see if it was visible. That was the extent of it. I was dumbfounded how a king cobra could be that large. Oh, the biggest king cobra ever was 19 feet and some inches, found in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, also in the south of Thailand.

The reason it was so big, is I think, because that mountain is where the guys that catch snakes for the city of krabi- let their snakes go. Rat snakes, cobras, king cobras, kraits, all of them. All of them are food for big king cobras. This king had been feasting for years on easy meals there, and nobody had caught it yet.

When I told king cobra expert, Luke Yeoman’s in the UK, he was as excited as I was. He trusted my judgement. This was a world record king that would have SMASHED the record. He made plans to come over and we were going to track it down using motion-activated cameras and traps. Luke never made the trip because 2 months before he was due to come to Thailand he was bitten on the arm by one of his big king cobras at home in the UK and died within minutes. He’d had a heart attack after the bite, killing him near instantly.

So, yeah, you made a good point… we don’t know what is in the jungles. We haven’t found all of what is there yet. And another thing I learned was to definitely have a camera with me ready to shoot at a moment’s notice – ALWAYS!

You OK with me turning your email and mine into a post for ThailandSnakes.com?

Cheers,

Vern L.

His 2nd email to me:

Vern,

No problem posting anything I share. You have my mind in a rewind mode talking about Cobras.
Same place, Khao yai Thailand , national park, 1973-74. Stopped on the way to work to let the Elephants wake up and proceed up the mountain. Elephant grass to my left. Sitting in the front seat of a Toyota HiAce. Looked left and I was eye level with a Cobra. I have no knowledge what type but I know really BIG when I see it. As stated before, I was young and stupid so I started to move my head back an forth and my new friend followed my every move. I never thought about it for years until I read your email. One more thing about snake size. When I was at Thakli from 1971 to early 1972 we had an incident with one of the drivers that nearly got him fired…until WE appologized for not believing him.

On two occassions just after the New Year Holidays he was late picking up the day shift and claimed he could not pass the road down the hill from the Tropo site because there was a big snake laying accross the road and he did every thing to get it to move (as long as he didn’t have to get out of the truck). We really thought he just over slept in the truck and was full of BS. Now keep in mind there was a tall tail about a giant snake at the Tropo Hill in Thakli Thailand.

Well, just before he pulled another “big Snake and I am late” he got smart and drove back up to the Tropo site, got really indignant (sp) with me and told me to get in the van. …….Bottome line..the Rock Python was stretched completely accross the asphalt road. We could not see his head or tail….and I was not going to get close enough to push him with even a really LONG stick. We threw rocks at it for nearly 5 minutes before it finally moved…very slowly off the road.

I did note that the middle of the snake was at least 10 to 12 inches with a big bulge of about 15 inches past the half way point. I also remember the driver saying the big snakes like the warm asphalt after sunset.

Needless to say, the day shift didn’t want to believe me either until I threatened to get physical. Of course we all got our little Browning cameras ready for the next time….that never came.

Good chatting with you.

Ray

New Snake for Thailand, or New Species Found!

I found a snake that appears to have never been found in Thailand before today on my hike at a nearby mountain in Thailand.

Time: 12:10 PM, 4/20/2013

Location: Ngorn Nak Mountain, in Tub Kaak, Krabi province, Thailand.

Elevation: ~ 400 meters.

Weather: 34C. Bright sunshine, though the area the snake was in was shaded by the canopy.

Habitat: Leaf litter right off the main trail. This is a limestone mountain with sand/dirt topsoil. This snake was in an area with no water for 150 meters or so. It was dry in the leaves, but it had rained within the last 2 days there.

Time observing: About one minute before it successfully evaded capture through the bed of leaves.

Morphology: Approximately 70 cm in length. Width of body at the thickest part was about 5.5 cm (diameter). There was little difference in the thickness of the body from the neck down through the body. The tail tapered very gradually, and so was long. The head was about 4.5 cm in diameter. Body of snake was uniform in color, a light yellow – almost mustard color. The neck was slightly red for a length of about 5 cm. Head of the snake was the same mustard color, without dark markings typical of some keelbacks. It had the shape of a keelback head, the eye size was consistent. The head was the same yellow color as the body, and then had a white ring that went from under the jaw, around to the back of the head where it meets the top of the neck. It was a closed loop on the top, though I didn’t see under the jaw. The scales were bright and very clear. The eyes were very clear. I was approximately 60 cm from the snake. It was not in shed. There were 2 small dark dots, no bigger than about 1 mm each on opposite sides of the vertebral column, and these continued the length of the body, stopping at the tail. I could not see the belly of the snake.

Details: I was walking back from the top of the peak and was well under the canopy. On my right I heard a little twitch of an animal in the leaves, just a split-second, and it stopped. I looked down, and very close to my right foot was this beautiful little snake. At first, just looking at the tail, I figured it was a light-colored Rhabdophis subminiatus. When I bent down and took a good look, the body morphology, color, pattern, and head were completely different from any other snake I’ve seen in Thailand. I had a snake bag with me, to carry my water in. I quickly ditched my water and wrapped the bag around my hand and watched the snake for a while, waiting to get a better opportunity to make an attempt to grab it. The snake started moving again, head under the leaves, and then popping it up again where I could see it. I made a grab for the neck, thinking I’d just pin it down in the thick leaf litter and better be able to grab it to put it in the snake bag from there. After my hand came down, it was able to slip out forward, then launch itself over the back of my hand and back down into the leaf litter where it was lost in seconds. I spent 10 minutes looking, and then headed back down the trail, remembering precisely where I saw the snake.

I’ve seen many keelbacks and many other snakes here in Thailand – hundreds. I’ve not seen one of this color or morphology before. When I returned home I promptly checked Google image search for keelbacks, Sibynophis, and other snakes that I thought it could possibly be. I found no images anything like this snake. I checked the “A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Thailand and South-East Asia” by Cox et al, and did not find this snake listed.

I think there are dozens of new, never before classified snakes to be found in the mountains of Southern Thailand. Thais are not what I’d consider outdoor types, and there are few people in the country that study snakes to any degree. Fewer still are actively herping during the day or night.

If you are interested in finding new snakes, I do suggest you book your flight to Thailand at your most convenient opportunity, and plan on spending a month or more looking. Give me an email if you are going to be close to Krabi province. Oh, and don’t forget your camera, like I just did!

Cheers,

Vern L.

Thailand Snakes Forum – at Facebook

Maintaining a separate FORUM for Thailand Snakes has become too much of a time-suck. Forum members couldn’t even post photos of snakes they found in Thailand.

I decided to move everything to Facebook. Most people are on it already, and they have a VERY easy system for uploading photos, videos, or posting comments on anything there. I started posting some photos of snakes there already and we have 60 friends there already.

Please join over there by just clicking the “LIKE” at the top of the page.

THAILAND SNAKES FORUM (click)

Blue Necked Keelback Envenomation

Copyright R. Subaraj. Email: serin@swiftech.com.sg
Copyright R. Subaraj.

This is a snake found in deep southern Thailand that I’ve not written anything about, but some conversation last night reminded me to put something about online as a warning to others that might encounter or even keep this snake in captivity.

The Blue-Necked Keelback, Macropisthodon rhodomelas is a small colubrid snake that looks innocuous enough, but is one that has the potential to cause some serious damage. I was reading a scientific paper from a man in Singapore that had one captive, that bit down on his finger and chewed for a bit before releasing him. This 120 kg man (264 lbs) fell to the floor a minute after being bitten by this snake. Here is the complete paper on PDF. It would be great if you’d share this page with anyone that you know who keeps snakes, as this snake is frequently regarded as harmless, like the Rhabdophis subminiatus (Red-necked keelback) once was.

Blue Necked Keelback Paper (click)

Cheers,

Vern