Tag Archive | "new snake species"

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.

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Help Me Identify This Snake – Oligodon Genus? Species?

I sent photos of a snake just like this one to a couple biologists about 5 months back. Nobody could tell me what it was, based on appearance. A couple guys that have found new species in this area have said it is, without a doubt, from the Oligodon genus. They asked that I do scale counts. I had to figure out what a scale count was. Today I just went through some snake scale diagrams to figure out some other things  - like what subcaudal scales are, etc. Pretty fun stuff, playing amateur biologist.

If you know what this snake is by the information given below – do let me know!

Geographical location: Southern Thailand, Krabi province.

Elevation found: 200 meters

Habitat: On ground, with head buried in hole near garbage can on limestone mountain.

Length: ~ 36 cm.

Girth: 5-6 cm at mid-body, thickest section.

Loreal scale? Yes.

Postocular scales: 3

Ventral scale count: 160

Ventral pattern? Yes, irregular spots (yellow/white) and shapes toward the middle of each scale. Outer edges of ventral scales are grey to dark grey.

Gular: 4 sets of 2. I’m a bit confused about this. Are ventral scales ONLY solid – if they are solid the whole way down the body? Because there are 4 rows of split scales that could be called Gular I guess… but if ventral scales can be split too – they could be included in the ventral scale count.

Subcaudal scale count: 51. They are split.

Anal: it is solid, just one scale, not split.

Scale counts: Diagonally 17. Alternating back and forth straight over and to the other side: 17.

Color: The true color of the top of the back of this snake is dark olive green. It lightens slightly going toward ventral side. The head is slightly darker overall than the body, but not much. The side view of the head (below) isn’t a true color representation.

Photos below:

Oligodon snake from Thailand - olive color.

This is close to the true color of the snake, the following photos are brighter to show details. All photos - copyright 2011 Vern Lovic.

Color here is almost right - lightened a bit. You can see how the head is just barely distinguished from the body. The head is very small. Copyright 2011 Vern Lovic.

Quite a bit lighter than true color.

Approximately true color.

Photos, information, and video of another snake just like this (click link)

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New Snake Species, or New to Thailand?

I found another of these snakes today. They are quite hard to categorize. I’ll do scale counts tomorrow and see what I get. Previously I got 15-15-15 on the other I caught from the same area. This one I pulled out slowly from a hole he was half-buried in. We were up about 200 meters in elevation on a limestone hill.

Oligodon _______ (my other page on this snake with photos and video).

There are a couple of biologists interested in looking at the snake, so I may have an exact name if they are able to get here quickly enough before I release it.

Anybody want to guess what it is? It looks, to me, exactly like an Oligodon kheriensis – a very rare snake, not known for Thailand at all. It’s also called the Coral Kukri Snake. Ok, mine is not the same color, but everything else appearance wise – looks the same, just in an olive green hue.

Anyway – excited to see the snake in the light and get some good photos and videos of this snake.

Update: here is a complete rundown of the snake with new photos, and scale counts…

Oligodon snake in Thailand ->

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Thailand has 200+ snake species with over 60 of them - venomous. I created this site as a way to educate Thais and visitors to Thailand about snakes. Many people kill the snakes they see in Thailand, while in many cases - they are non-venomous and completely harmless. With this site I hope to give people a better idea what is harmful and what isn't.

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