Tag Archives: thailand coral snake

Blue Malaysian Coral Snake – Venomous – Deadly

Deadly snake, Calliophis bivurgatis flaviceps - blue Malaysian coral snake
Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps. ©2012 Tom Charlton. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Blue Malaysian Coral Snake is a venomous elapid and is one of the most strikingly beautiful snakes you’ll ever see. I’ve been lucky enough to see one crossing the road in southern Thailand and I didn’t have any snake hook to grab him.

Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps (Blue Malaysian Coral Snake, Blue Long-glanded Coral Snake)

3 Sub-species: C. b. bivirgatus in Java – lacks blue stripes on ventral.
C. b. flaviceps in Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia (possibly, no records), Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and various islands of the Riau Archipelago. C. b. tetrataenia in Borneo has a light yellow stripe on side, without blue stripe.

Thais Say:  ngoo bik thong dang

Length: Up to 180 cm, however usually around 140 cm

Range:  This beautiful coral snake is found from around Bangkok and south toward Peninsular Malaysia.

Habitat: Usually found at some elevation – over 400 meters, I have also found them at 100 meters asl. Calliophis bivirgata prefers heavily wooded and wet areas of primary and secondary rainforest.

They seem to prefer living under and foraging under leaves and fallen trees to rocks. They are terrestrial, I’ve never seen one climb anything.

Active Time: These corals snakes are nocturnally active, but on rainy and cloudy days they can also be found, like many coral snakes.

Description: Medium sized, though large for a coral snake, this snake reaches 140 cm typically, and up to 170 cm have been recorded. The body is mostly deep blue with light blue or white stripes along the lower ventral side of the body. The head, venter (belly), and tail are usually brilliant red. The nose is blunt for foraging the leaf litter where it spends most of its time. Dorsal scale count: 13-13-13.

Defensive Behavior: Always avoiding man and other large threats, they can be very fast as they flip about almost spastically. When they are trapped and tailed, they may attempt to flip over on the dorsal side, exposing a brilliant ventral of red, orange, and pinkish color. During foraging these snakes are very slow moving.

Food: Prey includes other snakes, lizards, frogs, birds.

Danger: All coral snakes must be treated as the potentially lethal snakes they are. That said, many people free-handle these snakes at their own peril. Deaths have occurred as the result of envenomation by this snake. One man in Singapore was reported to have died within five minutes of envenomation. Do be exceptionally careful and never hand-hold any deadly snake.

Venom Toxicity: Neurotoxic venom which does not initially present with much pain at the bite site is immediately acting to block nerve impulses. The wound may become numb, and lips may also get numb. Difficulty in breathing occurs as the venom shuts down muscle contractions – the diaphragm and other major muscles.

Antivenom: None!

Key Diagnostic Features: Local pain + flaccid paralysis
General Approach to Management: All cases should be treated as urgent and potentially lethal. Rapid assessment and commencement of treatment for symptoms is mandatory. Admit all cases.

Offspring: Oviparous and clutches of 1-3 eggs.

Notes: One of the most impressive snakes to see in the wild. Fairly common in deep Southern Thailand and Malaysia mountains. This snake is easily confused with Calamaria schlegeli in Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, Java, and Sumatra. The red-headed reed snake which is harmless. The reed snake has smaller scales and no red tail or venter. Venter is grey and white.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Calliophis
Species: C. bivirgata
Binomial name: Calliophis bivirgata

(Friedrich Boie, 1827)

High Definition (1080p) Video of Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps Found During Daylight in Singapore:

Small Spotted Coral Snake – Venomous – Potentially Dangerous

Speckled Coral Snake - Venomous - Potentially Dangerous
Speckled Coral Snake – Calliophis maculiceps Juvenile

“Calliophis maculiceps” (Speckled coral snake, Small-spotted Coral Snake)

Length: Average 50 cm though females can get considerably longer at 130 cm (reference – http://www.afpmb.org/content/venomous-animals-c#Calliophismaculiceps)..

Range: These small coral snakes are found all over Thailand and some other countries in Asia. I have seen a half dozen of these snakes in southern Thailand, usually found by people in their potted plants outside.

Habitat: These snakes enjoy the leaf litter, loose dirt, and cool areas under rotting trees and other foliage. They are very rarely found during the daytime, and one scientist said they are usually only seen during September and October. I’ve seen them year round.

Active Time? Nocturnal – active almost exclusively at night.

Food: Very small snakes like the Brahminy blind snake, worm snakes, worms, and probably termite, ant, and other insect eggs.

Defensive Behavior: They curl up their bright red, white and black spotted tail as a defense mechanism. These snakes have little else for defense, as they don’t even attempt to bite. The mouth on the Calliophis maculiceps is very small.

Venom Toxicity: This is a coral snake, so, the potential for life-threatening envenomation does potentially exist. Their venom is neurotoxic. There are places on the human body where this snake could get a good bite in, given the chance. Between the fingers and toes is an ideal piece of skin to bite. Just be very careful with these, and all coral snakes. Just because a snake has not been known to cause significant envenomation in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. If you keep this snake as a pet – be very careful not to get too comfortable holding it – it is potentially a deadly snake.

Offspring: One scientist noted a clutch of just 2 eggs.

Notes: These are remarkably beautiful snakes, and yet so small that they could be mistaken for a worm of some sort if. Body patterns can differ slightly. Some, like this juvenile exhibit black stripes and spots. Some have just spots. Some are almost uniformly brown with very few or light spots. The body of this coral snake is round, without a pronounced vertebral ridge. The belly is bright orange, and the tip of the tail has white and black. When the tail is raised, it is quite stunning. These snakes are common, and are kept as pets across the world.

Speckled Coral Snake from side - Calliophis maculiceps
This juvenile speckled coral was about half the diameter of a pencil.
Defensive behavior of Calliophis maculiceps.

All Photos – 2011 Copyright Vern Lovic


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Subfamily: Elapinae
Genus: Calliophis
Species: C. maculiceps

Calliophis maculiceps
(Discovered by Gunther in the year 1858)

Speckled Coral Snake Video: