Tag Archives: snake identification

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)

Mock Viper – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Mock Viper – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Mock Viper - Non Venomous - Not Dangerous, native to Thailand
Mock Viper - Non Venomous - Not Dangerous

Psammodynastes pulverulentus (Mock Viper, Dusky Mock Viper, Common Mock Viper)

Thais say: (ngoo mok)

Length: average about 75 cm (28 inches)

Range: All over Thailand and southeast Asia including Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam – even getting over to Nepal and the other way, Taiwan.

Habitat: Typically the mock vipers enjoy hilly regions. I found one at a local Buddhist temple (the mock viper you see in the images on this page) at the bottom of a limestone mountain, with a skink it had just killed in southern Thailand. Mock vipers can also be found under leaves and brush. Apparently they like a variety of habitat.

Active Time? Nocturnal primarily, but as I mentioned I found mine during the morning about 10:30am. These Thailand snakes are terrestrial – preferring the ground to trees.

Food: Skinks and other lizards, and of course, frogs – like nearly every other snake in Thailand! This mock viper also, occasionally eats other small snakes.

Defensive Behavior: Slow to bite, they coil up as most snakes and strike. I handled mine repeatedly and didn’t get struck at but a couple of times.

Venom Toxicity: Not strong enough to hurt humans. Don’t let it bite down on you for more than a couple of seconds though.

Offspring: This species is ovoviparous, embryos develop inside eggs which remain inside the mother where they hatch. Mating has been observed occurring for over one hour in a tank for m/f mocks in captivity.

Notes: These are really beautiful snakes. Mock vipers have a thick, strong body. They are not really vipers, but they do possess a weak venom that doesn’t affect humans much. They are rear fanged. Female mock vipers are larger than the males on average at adulthood.

READ THIS: There is a chance you will confuse it with the highly toxic venomous snake, the Malayan Pit Viper. I did. It has markings that are very similar, though it doesn’t have the giant triangular head of the Malayan pit viper – it is pretty close. I thought I had a mutant mock!

Mock Viper top and head, Thailand venomous snake
Very distinct markings, not similar to a Malayan Pit Viper when looked at closely
Mock Viper with Dead Skink Meal
He regurgitated that skink as some tourists poked him with a stick before I arrived.

Mock Viper Video – One I caught in southern Thailand:

Common Mock Viper Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Psammodynastes
Species: P. pulverulentus
Binomial name: Psammodynastes pulverulentus
(classified by H. Boie, in year 1827)