This Malayan Racer (Coloegnathus flavolineata) photo was sent in by Camille Lemmens from the IDCThailand.net dive shop in Koh Samui, in Suratthani Province.
Correction – I haven’t looked at this for ages… it looks more like a melanistic Coelognathus radiata than it does the C flavolineata. I’ll have to find a good photo of that one and put it up here!
Malayan racers are similar to the Copperheaded Racer snakes in Thailand, but they are darker and they don’t have the nasty attitude. They don’t often strike, and they can be hand-held usually without any problems. If one knows how to handhold a snake.
Best way to hand hold a snake? Put your hand or arm under it’s mid body and lift up. It thinks you are a tree.
The wrong way to hand-hold a snake is to grab it’s tail or mid body clenched between your fingers – it will take that as aggression and may strike.
Please don’t generalize this to all snakes… some snakes should never be held – vipers, Naja kaouthia and others… but, some can be safely held.
Malayan racers exhibit a flaring of their neck and first 1/3rd of their body – even 1/2 their bodies, in a vertical flare. If we think of a cobra flare as horizontal, you can then picture the flaring of the Malayan Racer. Other snakes known to flare like this?
Copperheaded racers, Red-Tailed Racers, Oriental Whip Snake… are all that I can remember at the moment. I am sure there are more.
If you see a Malayan racer in the wild – just leave it alone. They can get big – 2+ meters – and give a wicked bite if they want to. They eat large numbers of rats – so, they’re a good snake to have around.
Found another one of these whip snakes – they are supposed to be either red or brown… I guess this could be called brown. The head is more brown. The neck and up to the stomach is silver… with some black patches… and then the tail is reddish brown. It could well be the red variety because as I compare photos with the other brown whip snake I had before – they are quite different in coloration. This one is predominantly silver – for the neck and down to the beginning of the tail. The tail gets dark – and there is a reddish tint to the brown… So, not sure.
Lovely snakes. These are vine snakes and very fast in the wild. I found him on the ground amongst leaves and rocks… sandy dirty. He was about to enter an 8 inch diameter drain pipe. It did take a bit to catch him – and once I got him he was fine – no bites until I had to grab his tail to pick him up. He was not ok with that and tagged my finger very quickly – a little blood.
There were people around and they were all screaming Pit Pit! (Venomous) It isn’t… Thais call all snakes venomous – which is part of the problem here – they kill any snake they see, insisting it’s venomous. The other part of the problem is that in Thailand there are 60+ venomous snakes. Most people can’t be bothered to study them all and know the difference. I don’t know all of them either.
This one I knew though. Great snake – will keep it for a couple of days and let it go where I found it.
Common names: Keel-bellied vine snake; keel-bellied whip snake; brown whip snake; red whip snake (more red).
Here is a snake that was a bit of a mystery for a while, it was finally identified by an American expat snake researcher in Bangkok.
This snake was found in Krabi province, and far north of where other instances of this snake have been found in Thailand. There were a couple found in the southernmost provinces – near Narathiwat – near the Malaysian border.
Name: Dryophiops rubescens. Also known as: Red Whip Snake, Brown Whip Snake, Keel bellied whip snake, keel bellied vine snake.
Length: As long as 1 meter (3+ feet)
Description: The head of this snake is more brown than any other part of the body. Keep in mind there are red and brown varieties. The head is elongated and has a ridge between the eye and snout. Pupils are set horizontally. The body of the snake is slender – ideal for climbing through vines and light growth. The snake is measured in grams, not exceeding 300 grams for the largest of them. Scales on top of the body are smooth. The underside scales are keeled and are excellent for climbing. The whip snake I caught yesterday was able to climb up a smooth plastic water jug and grip it tightly. I was quite surprised. The head is brown, the neck and first half of the body is silver / grey and mottled with some black and dark grey. The belly is pale yellow under the head and neck, and toward the tail gets a coloration very similar to the top – heavily mottled and darker brown moving posteriorly. These snakes are more thin than my smallest finger.
Range: Literature has this snake occurring only in Thailand’s deep south, but, this is the second instance of one found in Krabi province – so, obviously the range includes this province as well.
Habitat: Trees and ground. I found both on the ground. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush.
Active Time? Diurnal, but possibly also nocturnal. Both of mine were found during daylight hours.
Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily.
Defensive Behavior: Accurate strikers! One of the ones we’ve had didn’t bite at all. The other tagged my finger striking quickly and very accurately. I bled slightly. No effects were noted.
Venom Toxicity: Weak for humans. Effective for geckos, lizards and frogs. These are rear-fanged colobrids and a prolonged bite could cause swelling and pain at the bite site.
Offspring: Nothing known about this area.
Notes: These are really beautiful snakes resembling the Ahaetulla prasina, and Gunther’s Whip Snake. Studied closely you’d be amazed at the pattern in the body of the snake. Both of ours were brown whip snakes (we are guessing – there are few photos in the lit), there are also red-colored species of this snake.
Scientific classification: Dryophiops rubescens
Species: D. rubescens
(Classified by Grey, in the year 1835.)
Video of Brown Whip Snake from Southern Thailand:
Update – here is another video of a different Brown Whip Snake from Krabi Province in Thailand:
Sent by Paul Donatus, this is an Indochinese Sand Snake that are common in the Chiang Mai – northern region of Thailand.
Personally, I’ve never seen one in southern Thailand, alive, or dead on the side of the road – so I think we don’t have them down here. They attain lengths of about 1 meter. They They eat frogs, smooth scaled lizards / geckos and even other snakes on occasion so reports one keeper.
Thailand has such diversity among snakes. There are over 200 species of snake living in the country. It’s always exciting to find one I don’t know – and have never seen. Always a bit strange handling them – not knowing, is it venomous and toxic to people, or not?
Keep in mind, I don’t pick up a snake I don’t know with my hands – but when I say “handling” I usually mean on the end of a snake hook, or with snake tongs.
A very cool snake, and apparently Paul has more photos to send. Will get them up as time permits.
Thanks Paul for introducing me to the Indochinese Sand Snake!
Another reader submission – Rich Lindie found this near his apartment in Bangkok, on a palm tree it appears.
These golden tree snakes are very common all over Thailand. In fact, they might be Thailand’s most common snake. They are often found in the leaves of palms, and climbing up the trunk of palm trees. They also love vines and sometimes fences.
These snakes have a diet that consists of nearly everything that moves – but they really love geckos, and in particular – the big Tokay Geckos.
These snakes bite quickly – but their venom is not very toxic to humans. I have been bitten numerous times by these snakes, and as long as you don’t let them hold on and clamp down for a while – the venom shouldn’t affect you.
I tend to be really cautious about handling venomous snakes. Pit vipers are scary because you just never know when they’re going to strike. They’re very calm until WHAM a strike from nowhere. I think as soon as they get a good lock on the part of your body giving off heat – it’s almost an automatic strike. I’m not sure they decide anything at all – just strike like lightening. I never handhold the pit vipers.
I headed up to a remote part of the wat (temple) today to see if maybe I could spot a snake. So far at that temple I’ve found a Rhabdophis subminiatus – Red Necked Keelback, a Painted Bronzeback, a 4 meter King Cobra, a Mock Viper, and a brown Keelback. Oh and a green Ahaetulla prasina – Oriental Whip Snake.
There has been a lot of rain lately and the day was really hot – which is a change from the cooler temps of late, so I thought I’d see what I might find. I walked the 90 steps up and 100+ down into the valley – the foothills, and started along the path. There was some loud noise to my right. I walked over there to find a skinny Thai guy – probably a bit mental, or hungry, trying to kill a big box tortoise. He had a snake in his left hand – I was like WTF?
That’s a VIPER. I said to him – Ngoo Pit (snake is venomous!).
He insisted – Mai Pit! (not venomous) over and over… I said, “Gep Ngoo, ROO JACK – NGOO NEE – PIT!” Translated – I collect snakes, I KNOW THIS SNAKE IS VENOMOUS.
He puts the snake up to his face and cheek, where it bites him on the cheek. I think – what an idiot!
I say – “Can I have that snake?” (in Thai of course).
He said OK. I offered to pay him for it – he said – 100 Thai Baht. I said – great. I took the snake into a plastic bag and put it in my backpack, telling the guy to get to a hospital when he feels symptoms. He showed me on his hand where it bit him earlier when first trying to catch it and he was bleeding slightly.
Though they are venomous – it affects people differently. They are potentially deadly. He’ll definitely experience pain, and hopefully little necrosis.
What a crazy thing to see a reptile hunter collecting snakes and turtles at a Buddhist wat. It was a very sad thing to see him trying to kill the turtle for no reason. Probably the shell is worth something. Many Thais eat turtles too – but I think mostly the soft-shelled water turtles.
So – I have a Trimeresurus venustus – Gernot Vogel from Terralog “Venomous Snakes of Asia” uses the Trimeresurus prefix. Joachim Bullian uses “Cryptelytrops” instead. Not sure what the real label is. “Venustus” is correct anyway.
Brown Spotted Green Pit Viper is the common name for it. They enjoy limestone areas and are frequently found on the ground according to Bullian – but, I’ve found them in bushes during the day – sleeping.
They are very slow during the day – and not all that much quicker at night. I took this one home and put it in the tank. It appears to be gravid – hope she is able to give birth (ovoviviparous) soon. That’d be awesome to see.
When visiting Thailand on vacation or for a long-term stay there are certain snakes you are likely to see and others that you will probably never see, even if you’re looking very hard to find them. For instance, an uncommon snake is one of the coral snakes. I have only seen one coral snake crossing a highway between Surat and Krabi – and I was lucky to see that.
Some of the common snakes you’ll see in Thailand (if you’re lucky!) are snakes like:
Radiated Rat Snake (Copperheaded Racer) – These are very common and may even qualify as the most commonly seen snake in Thailand. Non-venomous, not dangerous except they are big biters! Many small teeth. A bite can hurt and get infected.
Red Neck Keelback- Brightly colored snakes that become more so when agitated. Were previously considered non-venomous, not dangerous until someone let one bite down and chew for over 2 minutes he almost died.
Other Keelback snakes – Keelbacks are very common ground snakes and love water. You might see them in the water or on the ground moving around. Keelbacks in Thailand are not very dangerous, but you wouldn’t want to let one bite down for more than a second. Remove immediately – even if you have to hurt the snake to do so.
Golden Tree Snake – very common and they love eating geckos so you may see one by your dwelling. In particular they love a big Tokay Gecko for dinner. Mildly dangerous venom – don’t let it bite down for a long time and you’ll likely be fine. These snakes do traverse across the ground but quickly find a tree when threatened.
Bronzeback Snakes – these are great climbers, I first saw one as it came over my 6 foot concrete wall in the back of the house in Surat. Very thin snakes, not that afraid of humans. Bite quickly – as you might guess from the photo, but in all honesty I’m holding his tail – so it’s to be expected! Non-venomous, not dangerous.
Oriental Whip Snakes – very common, and usually found in trees, but the last two I found were on the ground probably hunting frogs. The bright fluorescent greens in this snake are awesome, yes? These are mildly dangerous if a long bite occurs. So, don’t let it occur.
Malayan Pit Viper – very dangerous, venom is deadly. Kills more people in Thailand than any other snake. Bites fast. Lazy to get out of the way if you’re walking toward it, usually just lays still. Always found at ground level.
Green Cat Snake – almost 2 meters long when fully grown, and resembling the vipers – except it’s too long to be a viper. Be very careful with any green snake as there are many vipers with strong venom that are green and look very similar to this one. This Green Cat Snake is harmless, and didn’t even try to bite as I interacted with it.
The Malayan Krait (Bungarus candidus), or the Blue Krait as it’s sometimes called, is difficult to identify, and identifying it is essential because their venom is so deadly. Their venom paralyzes the nervous system and causes the muscles of the body to stop. That means the heart and diaphragm. You’ll need to be on a ventilator to stay alive after a krait bite.
Maybe the hardest to identify deadly snake that you should be aware of is an albino cobra, krait, coral snake, or Malayan pit viper. Albino snakes are not common, but, keep in mind that any white snake that bites you could be quite deadly and you’ll want to get to the hospital immediately. If easy to kill the snake – do so. Don’t risk being bitten again. Take a digital photo of it, or a few – would be better.
The photo above is the Malayan Krait. The photos below are snakes that are completely harmless. Keep in mind that Malayan Krait babies look just like these smaller innocuous snakes.
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