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.
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.
When I say the “Laotian Wolf Snake” is “not dangerous” I mean, it’s not going to kill you or send you to the intensive care unit of a Thai hospital. But, though this snake isn’t venomous it does have a biting problem. It bites very fast because it’s small and thin – and doesn’t give much warning when it strikes – unlike some other snakes – mangrove snakes, or monocled cobras.
Caution: There is another, highly venomous – and deadly, snake that looks similar to this harmless wolf snake. It is the yellow Banded Krait. It has thick yellow and black bands, and can grow to about 2 meters long. See this krait page >
There is another snake that you might think resembles this one. It’s called a mangrove snake. This is a type of cat snake, and it has some venom, and bites hard and deep. Here is video: Mangrove snake striking.
Lycodon laoensis (Laotian Wolf Snake)
Thai: (ngoo plong chanwan lao, or ngoo kan plong)
Length: Up to about .5 meters (50 cm, or 19 inches).
Range: All over Thailand.
Notes:These are ground dwelling snakes. They are rather shy and like to hide under things. They are easily eaten by predators because they have no strong defense (venom). Laotian Wolf Snakes prefer mountains and hilly regions but also can be found close to dwellings at times.
Active Time? Night & evenings.
Food: Small insects, frogs, small geckos.
Defensive Behavior: Pretty calm until they are scared or angry. They bite fast, and repeatedly. Their mouth is very small so you wouldn’t end up with much of a bite, but be cautious anyway.
Venom Toxicity: No venom that affects humans. But, if you’re bitten and it affects you – get to the hospital. You may be allergic to it.
Laotian Wolf Snake classification
Species: L. laoensis