Tag Archives: Thailand snakes

Brown-Spotted Green Pit Viper – Venomous – Mildly Dangerous

Brown Spotted Green Viper in southern Thailand. Cryptelytrops venustus.
Trimeresurus venustus. Brown-Spotted Green Viper. Small – 70 cm. Venomous. Mildly Dangerous. Found in Southern Thailand.

Trimeresurus venustus previously Cryptelytrops venustus(Brown-spotted Green Pit Viper, Beautiful Pit Viper)

Length: average 40-70 cm

Range: Chumpon to Krabi Province in Thailand. I have found them in Krabi and Surat Thani provinces.

Notes: I found this one in the picture on a small hill at a Buddhist temple on a hill next to some steps. These venomous snakes are active on the ground and in bushes. This one was in a bush about 1.3 meters high, right next to the path. It was non-aggressive and didn’t protest when I moved it away from the path with a stick.

Habitat:  I’ve found these vipers up to 300 meters elevation. This snake hunts almost entirely on the ground where it preys on frogs and lizards. They also enjoy jungle, limestone mountains, and rubber plantations. I kept one of these for three days to photograph and shoot video of. It spends most time suspended from a branch just a few inches off the bottom of the tank.

Active Time? The snake is mainly nocturnal. Active during the day only after heavy rainfall. I have found most of mine during daylight hours, but have also found them at night hunting prey.

Food: Mice, frogs, lizards. I had a good sized house gecko in the tank with this Trimeresurus venustus, but it left it alone. The pit vipers sense the heat of the animal and strike. The geckos are cold blooded so they are no hotter than their surroundings.

Trimeresurus venustus, the brown-spotted pit viper, aka: beautiful pit viper from Southern Thailand is one of the true vipers and is venomous but has not been shown to be deadly.

Defensive Behavior: The snake is very slow during the day and only bites if seriously aggravated. I ran into a reptile poacher in a Thailand forest and he was hand carrying one of these brown spotted green pit vipers in his left hand and had a large box turtle in his other hand. I told him – PIT! It means ‘venomous’ in Thai. He insisted “no, it wasn’t” and held it up to his face where the snake immediately bit him on the cheek a couple times and once on the lip. It let go after 1-2 seconds. He said – “See??” I promptly bought the snake from him, to keep him from further harm. Not sure what hospital he was at that night!

Venom Toxicity: Mildly toxic. Bites are painful and usually without significant effects. Probably this viper would need to bite down for a number of seconds to transfer enough volume of venom that it would be seriously detrimental. Bites are to be considered potentially deadly. Green Pit Viper Antivenin is available and manufactured by the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand and is available at most public hospitals.

Offspring: The beautiful pit viper I have now is likely gravid, which contradicts some other info I’ve seen about them having offspring in the June/July time-frame. This is December. She is not overly gravid and looks to be in the beginning stages, but still – I think only a couple of months are required for gestation. She’ll have an early birth – April maybe? These snakes birth live offspring in a jelly-like bubble that breaks after coming out of the female snake. Typical numbers are 20-30 young that are colored and patterned same as the adults.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotilinae
Species: Trimeresurus venustus

I could find little information about this snake beyond my own experience and some of the snake identification books I have.

Monocled Cobras – Venomous – Very Deadly

Monocled cobra siblings. Deadly venomous snakes - Naja kaouthia - Thailand
Naja Kaouthia – Venomous – VERY dangerous and very common Thailand snake.

Naja kaouthia, the monocled cobra is one of Thailand’s most deadly snakes – with highly toxic (neurotoxic + cytotoxic) venom. One bite on your toe from one that jumps out from under your outdoor refrigerator can kill you. Monocled cobras seem to be everywhere in Thailand. I had a friend that found them in his kitchen often. I’ve seen them crossing the road (see video below), and there was a family of these cobras living under the office of my wife’s workplace – with many 18″ baby cobras.

I just heard about Grant Thompson, an 18-year-old man in Austin, Texas that was bitten on the wrist by a monocled cobra and died of cardiac arrest. Authorities are looking for the snake. Tips that might catch the snake 1. If cool in the mornings, the snake might be found in bushes sunning itself. These cobras prefer hot weather over 80°F. 2. They are most active during daytime, but can move at night. 3. N kaouthia will eat eggs, mice, rats, if no other snakes are to be found. They prefer snakes, but I don’t know what Grant fed his snake. It might be unable to stalk prey and feed itself and die within a month.

Thais respect (fear) this snake because many have friends or relatives that have been envenomated (bitten and venom injected) by this snake. They even make Buddhist amulets with cobra snake images.

I’ve worked with two hatchling monocled cobras, and even at 12-15 inches – they are fierce. One snake handler described monocled cobras as “spastic” – and I have to agree.

If you are bitten by any cobra – get to the hospital as fast as you can. Monocled cobra venom is on par or even more toxic than some of the Thailand kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a small one, a nick, a scrape, get to the hospital immediately. All it takes is a drop of venom to hit your blood stream for biological chaos to ensue.

Naja kaouthia (Thailand Monocled Cobra)

Appearance: Monocled cobras are easily identified by looking at the back of the hood – there is a monocle – or eye type shape there. They are light brown to dark grey to solid black. Most are very close to black.

Thais say: Ngoo how hom, Ngoo how mo (long o sound)

Length: Typical maximum length about 1.5 meters. Recently I saw one in a mangrove forest that was 2 meters long, a giant. They can get up to 2.2 meters – about 7.5 feet long.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.

Notes: Neuro toxic venom affecting nerves, brain, and causing death very quickly without treatment. They are very fast strikers. The baby monocled cobras are every bit as deadly. Please be CAREFUL!

Habitat: Both flat and hilly regions. I’ve seen them on hills, but usually near people – under houses and in places rats and frogs are likely to be found. In the mornings they can be in trees and bushes – trying to get some sun to warm up. They love to hide under leaves, wood, anything really. Lifespan is around 30 years.

Deadly venomous Thailand monocled cobra (naja kaouthia) in strike pose.Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – active by day, but I have seen a number of them still active at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve seen five active at night – the rest, dozens of them, were active during daytime.

Food: Rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, other snakes.

Defensive Behavior: Lift head off ground and flatten out neck. The hood flares quite wide compared to the width of the body. When comparing the monocled cobra and the king cobra, the monocled cobras have a hood flare that is more extreme in relation to the width of their body and heads.

Monocled cobras are very active and ready to strike especially as the temperature climbs past 35C (about 95F). Do be very careful with them during this temperature range because they are very easily agitated and strike much more often.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic, deadly. Even a small bite can kill you. See “neurotoxic and cytotoxic venoms” (link).

Offspring: Lays 25-40 eggs. Young are fully prepared to envenomate as they hatch. Mating takes place after the rainy season. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. Eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 to 12 inches at birth.

Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Naja
Species: Naja kaouthia

Classified by: Lesson, 1841

Monocled Cobra videos:
My Two Recent Baby Monocled Cobras:

Finding a Small Monocled Cobra on the Street:

A Couple Juvenile Monocled Cobras in a Tank:

Snakes I’ve Found or Caught in Thailand

I thought I’d write up a list of Thailand snakes I’ve caught – just to keep track. Here’s a list of both venomous and non-venomous snakes I’ve caught (through 5/2011).

53 Thailand Snakes I’ve been lucky enough to find:

NEW SPECIES! I found a new Oligodon species that has not been named.

NEW SPECIES! I found another snake that I think is a new species. It is similar to a keelback, but thinner, longer. It was yellow with a white ring around the neck, about 70 cm in length around 400 meters elevation.

Venomous Species

Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia)

Malayan Krait / Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus)

Mangrove Pit Viper (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus)

Wagler’s Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri)

Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma)

Beautiful Pit Viper (Trimeresurus venustus)

Red Necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus)

Red Headed Krait – (Bungarus flaviceps)

Small Spotted Coral Snake (Calliophis maculiceps)

Observed, but didn’t catch:

King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) – 3 occasions

 

Non-Venomous Species

Golden Kukri Snake (Oligodon cinereus)

Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus)

Triangle Keelback (Xenochrophis triangularis)

Common Brown Keelback (Xenochrophis flavipunctatus)

Checkered Keelback (Xenochrophis piscator)

Striped Keelback (Amphiesma stolatum)

Big-eyed Mountain Keelback (Pseudoxenodon macrops)

Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) green, yellow phases

Malayan Whip Snake (Ahaetulla mycterizans)

Malayan Banded Wolf Snake (Lycodon subcinctus)

Brown Whip Snake / Keel bellied Whip Snake (Dryophiops rubescens) both brown and red phases.

Laotian Wolf Snake (Lycodon laoensis)

Common Wolf Snake (Lycodon capucinus)

Malayan Bridle Snake (Dryocalamus subannulatus)

Puff-Faced Water Snake (Homalopsis buccata)

Red Tailed Pipe Snake (Cylindrophis ruffus ruffus)

Sunbeam Snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)

Common Water Snake / Yellow Bellied Water Snake (Enhydris plumbea)

Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata)

Paradise Tree Snake (Chrysopelea paradisi)

Blue Bronzeback Snake (Dendrelaphis cyanochloris)

Striped Bronzeback Snake (Dendrelaphis caudolineatus)

Common Bronzeback Snake (Dendrelaphis pictus)

Banded Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis striatus)

Copperheaded Racer (Coelognathus radiata)

Malayan Racer (Coelognathus flavolineatus)

Red-tailed Racer (Gonyosoma oxycephalum)

Banded Cat Snake / Mangrove Cat Snake / Black Cat Snake (Boiga dendrophila)

Green Cat Snake (Boiga cyanea)

Dog-toothed Cat Snake (Boiga cynodon)

Common Mock Viper (Psammodyanstes pulverulentus)

Ridley’s Racer (Othriophis taeniurus ridleyi)

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (Ptyas korros)

White-bellied Rat Snake (Ptyas fusca)

Oriental Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosus)

Keeled Rat Snake (Ptyas carinatus)

Brahminy Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)

Common Bridle Snake (Dryocalamus davisonii)

Rainbow Water Snake (Enhydris enhydris)

Yellow-striped Caecillain (Ichthyophis sp) 

Orange-bellied Snake (Gongylosoma baliodeirus)

DORs (Dead on Road)

I don’t count these, I have seen another 50 or so species, in addition to most of those above.

 

Fifty-three different snake species. Well, there are 150+ more out there – so I’d better get herping.

Just to make it crystal clear for those that need it. I catch the snakes and either take them somewhere I can let them go free and take photos-videos in a wide open clearing, or, if none can be found I take them to another place for photos and videos. I let the snakes I catch go usually within 24 hours. I release the snakes back in the same place I found them, or, if they are venomous and were caught in a house or near houses – I take them to another suitable habitat.

If you want to come and catch snakes in Thailand – give us an email:

Email address for ThailandSnakes.com

We go primarily at night to herp for a couple reasons:

1. more herps.
2. cooler weather.

Thailand Snake Journal 1

Yesterday I had a great time. Two guys from England came over to hunt snakes in Krabi. They’ve seen my ThailandSnakes.com site and my snake videos on YouTube and asked if I would help them find snakes in Krabi.

We met at the Cobra show. I introduced everyone to each other – Yaya, Jackie, Ip, Maak, Johnny, Mark and Tom – these last two were from England.

Before Matt and Tom arrived Jackie brought me a small – 24 inch reticulated python that was not tame… that was great fun, and I was bitten within 10 minutes – talking to Jackie with my hands and not watching the snake! It was a weak bite, little blood.

That was great anyway – I’ve not played with a wild retic before.

There was a baby monkey there – they have a monkey show at the cobra show – and it was amazing. It immediately climbed all over me and held on tight. It was way too young to be away from the mom – but this is how they do it here. The monkey LOVED me – then I found out why- the Thai guy that ran the monkey show was a barbarian and smacked the hell out of it – a hard palm smack to the head and knocked it off the table when he took it from me. I’ve no idea why… it looked like that’s just what he does with it. I watched my anger inside rise and subside… So i watched this monkey get smacked in the head and fly off the table to the concrete floor and showed no reaction. I’ve had to accept seeing much worse than this without doing anything.

So – eventually, after the monkey got loose and came running to me to hide him and asshole was trying to catch him but I didn’t help him. Tom and Mark arrived. They showed the snake guys pics of these ultra venomous snakes Tom keeps back in the UK. Wild colors… Tom breeds them now and sells them. He makes a living off that and working with kids with mental illness in a group home setting like I did in Tampa for 3 yrs.

Yaya – owner of the cobra show – 35 yr old guy, great skills with snakes and 10 yrs experience asked if we wanted to go back and see the snakes. I had already set up with him that my friends would be coming so he he kindly offered. Tom is a King Cobra nut.

We walked around the cages. There was a 2 meter long rat snake, a giant falcon, and then about 15 reticulated pythons – some of them 5 meters long… these are chicken wire cages and you can get right up to them.

Next was the monocled cobra cage – there were about a dozen in there – up to 2 meters. They are ultra deadly too – their venom affects central nervous system as well as being cytotoxic and causing those black necrotizing wounds that you might have seen people suffer from Thailand snakebites. Really sick stuff.

Tom pulled one out – and was playing with it – Johnny was bored and stuck his snake hook into the pack of them and pulled about 10 monocled cobras over to Tom’s feet. Tom now had 11 of the most dangerous snakes on the planet at his feet to deal with. We were all laughing – me nervously, others – for other reasons… lol. This began a sort of competition between the Thais and westerners. The Thais of course winning and proud to show all they could do with the snakes without taking a bite and winding up dead.

After they saw Tom COULD handle 11 cobras they were impressed to some degree, but the next cage was the king cobra. It’s 4 meters long and Tom’s favorite is the King. He has a 3m king at home in England.

Tom played with that and then I asked Yaya, can we take it to the floor?

He was nice enough to agree, and Johnny came up and whipped that snake out of the cage, across the rain gutter and through the plants over to the show floor. Amazing this guy can handle a 4 meter king like a toy.

The king cobras in Thailand are awesome. Though their venom is not near as deadly as the smaller monocled cobra – it can inject 7ml of venom in one bite. This can, has, killed elephants, water buffalo, etc. Oh – and people.

Johnny’s younger brother – just 2 yrs ago – was killed by a bite that happened right there on the show floor. A new 5 meter king twisted around unexpectedly and lunged – biting his chest. He died in the car on the way to the hospital – 20 minutes away. He was dead in 10 minutes with Yaya driving furiously.

Yaya had to call Johnny and tell him – come to the hospital, he brother was bit by a cobra. Johnny asked, “King?”. Yep. Well, just give him the antivenin and I’ll come up tomorrow. Yaya said, no, today Johnny – your little bro is dead already.

There were tears in Yaya’s eyes when he told me the story. Johnny’s little bro wanted to be like Johnny and was testing himself with the bigger, new King they had just got.

Everyone has been bitten there by cobras a couple of times, Johnny is missing a finger from a king bite he survived.

Surprisingly, before we left I asked Johnny and Jackie what their favorite snake was and Johnny said, the King Cobra.

Anyway – it was a great time – a competition between us – with the Thai guys outshining Tom and Matt just based on their years of experience – and also their familiarity with the snakes we were working with. I wasn’t even in the picture, but I did hold up the 4m King by myself for a couple of seconds while someone distracted his attention to the front away from me. Something I thought I’d NEVER do.

It’s hard to argue with so many expert snake handlers saying – you CAN DO IT, you can… So I did.

However, I wouldn’t, for any amount of cash – touch the head of the king cobra from the front. Matt did it though! Tom even kissed the top of the head of the King like they do in the cobra show – Johnny taught them how to do it. They are both good snake handlers with years of experience versus my years of playing around. I did as much as I cared to without dying…

They brought out a big python then and I played with that a while. The strikes are vicious on those things, but at least they aren’t venomous.

After we all gave a donation we were ready to go to the cars and Jackie brought out this wicked big 8″ centipede. Same as I’ve seen in Hawaii but in Hawaii I’ve seen them 11 inches.

Tom, Matt, and myself – we’re all scared to death of centipedes… Jackie had it crawling on his arm. We’re freaking out cuz he wants to put it on us. Everyone’s laughing like made. We had just played with some of the most deadly snakes in the world – confidently, and there we were pulling away like little children with this centipede. Problem is they bite QUICK and for no reason at all. I’ve been bitten in Hawaii by a tiny venomous Hawaiian centipede – 3 inches and it hurt a lot.

Jackie disappeared with it then came back with the centipede on his face.

That was enough for me – I said, let’s go guys…

Nope, Jackie wouldn’t allow it and told us he took the pincers off the centipede.

Well, that’s another rather sick thing about living here – they don’t think twice about things like this – removing the pincers so we could play with it. The centipede would never catch food in the same way again… Not sure they grow back.

So at Jackie’s insistence we all let the beast crawl all over our arms and faces.

From there we went to a cave at a temple that usually has cave snakes – Ridley Racers. We didnt see them, but the monk there – also a friend of mine, took us on a guided tour of the grounds and all the caves – it was great fun despite not seeing the cave snakes (that catch bats out of the air for food). The monk would walk a bit and pull off leaves and hand them to us and eat one himself. He did this over and over and over – we taste-tested about 12 types of plants around there that all looked like weeds – but were edible because none of us got sick. Really cool monk. He opened a door for us and bats all flew out of this room – horrorshow like. Funny guy.

We went back to their “resort” which is a mountain resort near the temple steps I climb all the time. It’s really secluded and they’d already found four snakes there. We checked out those snakes – a small white-lipped viper (deadly), a painted bronzeback snake (venomless), and an oriental whip snake (venom, but non-biting) that was just beautiful… oh , and a paradise tree snake – they can glide over many meters jumping from tree to tree or tree to ground. Cool snakes. I’ve found and kept some here before too (non-venomous).

We went out for a night hunt and found many frogs, an amazing gecko (pic attached) and a 2 meter mangrove snake that tom had to climb 30 feet up the tree and grab with these long tongs. A great effort – and icing on the cake for the day.

Common Keelback – Thailand Snake Journal

Two of my friends went out and caught what we think is a common keelback (Xenochrophis flavipunctatus) snake in a pond. It got away from them once, and headed right back into an adjacent water pond.

Thailand keelback snakes love water.

Common keelback photo and video:

Thailand Common Keelback Video:

Malayan Bridle Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Close-up of Dryocalamus subannulatus, the Malayan bridle snake.

Malayan Bridle Snake - Dryocalamus subannulatus in Thailand primary rainforest in Krabi province on the Malaysian Peninsula.

Malayan Bridle Snake – Dryocalamus subannulatus

Length: 70cm – measured

Description: This is a thin snake less than the thickness of a finger. It has a yellow mask and comes in one of two color pattern variations. Shown here is the pattern with a brown background and longitudinal stripes running from neck to tail. There is one along the vertebral ridge and one on each side. The eyes of this snake are rather large compared to the very small head. The head is slightly smaller than the neck of the snake. There are two very small rear-fangs seen upon inspection of the mouth. The head of this snake is not elongated in a long triangle like the Lycodon family of snakes – which is one way to tell the difference.

Range: Thailand’s southern provinces. This snake was found in Krabi province at 450 meters elevation at 2200 hours two meters high on a thick tree covered with moss (see photo below).

Habitat: Bushes, trees, and dwellings. This snake is not as common as the Laotian Wolf Snake, but likes the same kind of habitat. It searches trees and structures for geckos primarily. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush.

Active Time? Usually nocturnal.

Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily.

Defensive Behavior: I have yet to see this snake strike, even after handling a half-dozen of them. Usually they are very calm.

Venom Toxicity: Weak or none. Ineffective for humans if there is any venom. The fangs are quite small – less than the diameter of a regular stick pin.

Offspring: Nothing known about this area.

Notes: These are great snakes for first time snake hobbyists to handle for a short time in the wild. If they are striking initially, they quickly calm down when held for a short time. There is a very real danger of mistaking these harmless snakes with a Malayan, Many Banded, or Banded krait – all of which are deadly. Kraits can get bigger than 1 meter. This snake, and the other harmless black and white banded snakes – will not get over 70 cm generally.

Scientific classification: Dryocalamus subannulatus

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Dryocalamus
Species: D. subannulatus

Photo taken in situ, Ngorn Nak Mountain, Tub Kaak Subdistrict of Krabi Province, Southern Thailand:

Dryocalamus subannulatus, in situ, Southern Thailand. Common name: Malayan bridle snake, striped color pattern.

Malayan Bridle Snake – second pattern (more common):

Malayan bridle snake - Dryocalamus subannulatus in banded pattern form from Southern Thailand's Krabi province.

Common Thailand Non-Venomous Snakes – Photos, Videos, Links

Thailand’s Very Common Non-Venomous Snakes

Thailand has around 200 snake species considered non-venomous, or mildly venomous and not a threat to human beings. Though these snakes are not known to be dangerous to humans, that doesn’t mean that they are not. The red-necked keelback, for instance, was a snake kept in aquariums across the world for years before the first deadly bites occurred. Turns out that they have a very strong venom that can be delivered with prolonged or multiple bites. Do be careful with all snakes.

Chrysopelea ornata. Golden Tree Snake. 

These snakes are very common and it is probably the most commonly seen snake among tourists and Thai locals. They are at home in the bushes and on the ground during the day. They are excellent climbers and prefer to eat the tokay geckos and other geckos. These snakes have a mild venom that can kill or disable birds and other small animals. It is not likely to affect your dog or cat, if bitten.

Info Sheet – Golden Tree Snake / Flying Snake (click)

Side view of Chrysopelea ornata, the flying snake, or the golden tree snake.
Golden Tree Snake
Golden tree snake (Chrysopelea ornata) close-up.
Golden Tree Snake – aka Flying Snake. Not dangerous. Quite fast in trees.
Chrysopelea paradisi, the paradise tree snake, or paradise flying tree snake from Southern Thailand.
A close relative of the golden tree snake, this is the ‘paradise tree snake’ – Chrysopelea paradisi. Very similar in appearance with the addition of some orange or red color to some of the scales on the top of the body and head.

 

Golden Tree Snake Video

Juvenile Chrysopelea ornata with Bright Colors:

Paradise Tree Snake Video – Catching Chrysopelea paradisi from a Tree in Southern Thailand:

Ptyas korros. Indo-Chinese Rat Snake. 

This rat snake is also very common no matter what type of weather or season. These are terrestrial (land-based) snakes with excellent climbing skills. They hunt lizards and other small animals on the ground during daylight hours. Rat snakes have no fangs, but their saliva is known to contain venom proteins. Nobody has been recorded in the literature as having been envenomated significantly by these snakes. Color varies from brown to grey or black.

Info Sheet – Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (click)

A brownish colored Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (Ptyas korros) from Southern Thailand.

Grey Indochinese rat snake in Thailand
Indochinese rat snakes eat predominantly rats and other rodents.

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake Video

A Juvenile Rat Snake – Brown with Light Banding Typical of Young Ptyas korros in Southern Thailand:

Coelognathus radiata. Copper-headed Racer / Radiated Rat Snake. 

These rat snakes are common around trash bins, and anywhere rats and other rodents can be found. Though they are primarily terrestrial, I have seen one 3-4 meters up a palm tree raiding a bird nest of its young or eggs. These are strong, very fast striking snakes with a lot of nervous energy. Like the other rat snakes, it has no fangs with which to deliver venom.

Info Sheet – Copper-headed Racer (click)

Radiated Rat Snake - Copperhead Racer

Double S position before this copper-headed racer strikes is typical. Coelognathus radiata.

These radiated rat snakes can be more yellow and brown. This one is quite orange colored. Coelognathus radiata.
While usually the radiated rat snake has more of a yellow tone to it, this one was quite orange / brown. They have an amazing pattern when defensive and flared up.

Copper-headed Racer Video

Juvenile Rat Snake Caught on the Road:

Adult Copper-headed Racer – Letting Go in Wild:

Malayan Pit Viper – Venomous – Very Dangerous

Malayan Pit Viper from southern Thailand
Calloselasma rhodostoma. Malayan Pit Viper. Usually under a meter, and thick. Very common. Very dangerous.

Calloselasma rhodostoma (Malayan Pit Viper, Malaysian Pit Viper)

Thais say: Ngoo gap pa

Length: Usually less than 1 meter. Female Malayan Pit Vipers are the larger and fatter snakes. Males of the species don’t make it to 1 meter long.

Range: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Java, Sumatra, Malaysia, Vietnam, Burma, and China.

Notes: These vipers are similar to North American “copperhead” snakes. They prefer dry, flat areas. They are known as lazy snakes. They may not move out of the way at all if someone is walking right toward them. After they bite they are known to remain in the same location. There are thousands of bites per year in Malaysia and Thailand from this snake.

These snakes are so dangerous when handled because they are not consistent with their behavior. One day they will be calm. The next, or the next 10 minutes – they will violently strike out lightening fast. Their preferred habitat is under dry leaves, wood, or rocks. They are active during the night mostly, especially during rain.

Nickname: Finger rotters – given by Al Coritz, Viperkeeper on YouTube. If they get you in the finger – you’ll likely lose part of your finger, hand, or arm without immediate care.

Habitat: Forests, rubber plantations, bamboo patches, farmland, grassland. Often lies in the short or long grass. These are terrestrial snakes that I’ve never seen climb anything.

Active Time? Day if cloudy and/or rainy, and night.

Food: Mice, frogs, lizards. Predominantly rodents.

Defensive Behavior: Partially coiled with neck in an “S”. Their strike is very fast. Their fangs are long – and in the front of the mouth. Some strikes are short, others involve the whole body as it “jumps” at the same time it strikes. Don’t underestimate the distance this snake can reach when striking. Also, this snake is VERY good at striking behind its head. Watch the video.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic. Venom is cytotoxic – it destroys all cells it comes in contact with – red blood cells, muscle, ligaments, and bone. With a quick hospital visit after a bite you may just lose part of your finger, or some tissue where the bite occurred. Most people don’t die if they go to the hospital. Deaths occur when bite victims delay seeking medical treatment. There is antivenom for this snake.

If you are bitten by this snake, do NOT wrap a tight band around the bite location. That will stop the venom from moving, from being diluted, and the tissue will suffer much more destruction.

Offspring: Lay eggs. Female guards them. Young are about 9 inches long and fast and thin. They are fully able to bite, and have full strength venom.

Malayan Pit Viper Eating Mouse Video – close up of large fangs, strike, etc.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotilinae
Genus: Calloselasma
Species:
C. rhodostoma

Binomial Classification:
Calloselasma rhodostoma

Malayan Pit Viper video:

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Copperheaded Racer Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

These snakes can be more yellow and brown. This one is quite orange colored.

The Copperheaded Racer snakes are so named because their head is copper colored. Though much of the body of this snake is also copper colored, there are also more yellow and brown color variations among this species. These snakes have no relation to the highly venomous “copperhead” snakes of America, and elsewhere. Thailand’s Copperheaded Racers are large rat snakes that feed heavily on large rodents and are frequently found near houses and markets where a rat population exists. These snakes will rarely bite you if you are walking by, but if you are pursuing a copperheaded racer – it will turn and move toward you with many folds in it’s neck, ready to strike. See the video below of the large 2 meter + racer I found crossing a Thai highway in southern Thailand.

There is another rat snake – the Common Malayan Racer that is a much darker color, but very much resembles the Copperheaded Racer. It generally will not bite even if handled.

Coelognathus radiatus, usually referred to as the Copperheaded Racer, Rat Snake, or Jumping Snake

Thai: Ngoo tang ma-prow ly keet

Appearance: A copper colored head with black lines on the top and neck, leading into some lateral lines that run down some of the length of the body. This snake often looks yellow as the dominant color. Because this snake is rather large it has a large mouth to match.

Length: Up to 230 cm (about 7 feet maximum). They can get as thick as an adult male’s wrist. Obviously thicker if they just ate.

Range: All over Thailand and many countries in Southeast Asia.

Habitat: Copperheaded racers are ground-dwelling snakes and prefer to live where rats are. Anywhere rats are. These snakes can be found at some altitude (1500m) as well as sea-level.

Notes: These snakes bite at the slightest provocation. They strike repeatedly, but eventually tire. The Cobra show in Ao Nang, Thailand uses these snakes in a demonstration because they are great strikers. I’ve only seen these racers on the ground – not climbing anything.

Active Time? Diurnal – daytime. Occasionally found active at night.

Food: Rats, mice, lizards, frogs, birds.

Natural Enemies: King cobras seem to prefer these and other rat snakes, probably because the teeth are not large and they cannot inflict any damage on the cobras.

Defensive Behavior: They will come at you if you’re bothering them, with a raised head – vertically inflated neck, and open mouth. See video of one crossing road and coming at me. They love to strike, and the big ones can reach over a meter when striking. If they can’t deter the aggressor they roll over and play dead with their tongue hanging out. If they can get away they are very fast snakes on the ground.

Venom Toxicity: Venom in the saliva, but no means to deliver it with fangs – no fangs at all.

Offspring: No info.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Coelognathus
Species: C. Radiatus
Binomial name: Coelognathus radiatus

Video: I Found a Baby Copperheaded Racer Crossing the Road:

Video: Large Copperheaded Racer Crossing the Road – Comes After Me!

Video: Copperheaded Racer Striking

Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps – Deadly

Deadly and Beautiful, the red-headed krait is one of the rare and very venomous elapids living in Thailand's rainforests. This is a closeup photo at 3 a.m. as we found one in Trang, Thailand.
Deadly and Beautiful, the red-headed krait is one of the rare and very venomous elapids living in Thailand’s rainforests.

Red Headed Krait (Bungarus flaviceps)

Thais say: Ngoo sam lee-um hoo-uh si dang

Length: These kraits grow to 1.9 to just over 2 meters, though most found are under 2 meters.

Range: In Thailand the red headed krait is only found in the southern Thailand provinces from Ratchaburi and southward. Across the globe they are most heavily concentrated in Malaysia, Borneo, and a couple other places. Recently I found a large 1.9 meter specimen in rainforest in the Trang province. I have also found them in Surat Thani, and Krabi provinces.

Habitat: Lowlands and hilly rainforest type habitat. The last four of these snakes I saw were all found at less than 200 meters elevation.

Active Time? Probably active both at night and day. Three of four of these snakes in our local area were found during the daylight.

Food: Some say the red headed kraits eat more frogs, lizards, eggs, and rodents than other snakes. Probably they are opportunistic and eat whatever presents itself.

Defensive Behavior: Of the four snakes examined – none struck out, none attempted to bite at all. Note – all but one was handled during daylight hours.

Venom Toxicity: Venomous, and deadly. The venom has been shown to have an LD50 subcutaneous measurement of .35 mg/kg for Bungarus flaviceps, while Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait) was .32 mg/kg, and Bungarus fasciatus (Banded Krait), .62 mg/kg and less than that in another study. This makes it one of the top venomous snakes on the planet and within the top three most venomous in Thailand. The black mamba is listed at the same .32 mg/kg by venom researcher, Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry at his site. (well, now he pulled down his chart). Only 10 other terrestrial snakes in the world were listed with more potent venom. Little is known of the this venom’s effect on humans after a bite, though it is likely very similar to a bite from Bungarus candidus, I could find no treatment studies due to bites being quite rare by this krait species.

From the abstract of a recent (2/2010) venom study in Malaysia: Bungarus flaviceps (red-headed krait) venom presents an intravenous LD50 of 0.32 μg/g and exhibits enzymatic activities similar to other Bungarus toxins. ELISA cross-reactions between anti-Bungarus flaviceps and a variety of elapid and viperid venoms were observed in the current study. Double-sandwich ELISA was highly specific, since anti-B. flaviceps serum did not cross-react with any tested venom, indicating that this assay can be used for species diagnosis in B. flaviceps bites. In the indirect ELISA, anti-B. flaviceps serum cross-reacted moderately with three different Bungarus venoms (9-18%) and Notechis scutatus venom, but minimally with other elapid and viperid toxins. The results indicated that B. flaviceps venom shares common epitopes with other Bungarus species as well as with N. scutatus. The lethality of the B. flaviceps venom was neutralized effectively by antiserum prepared against B. candidus and B. flaviceps toxins and a commercial bivalent elapid antivenom prepared against B. multicinctus and Naja naja atra venoms, but was not neutralized by commercial antivenoms prepared against Thai cobra, king cobra and banded krait. These data also suggested that the major lethal toxins of B. flaviceps venom are similar to those found in B. multicinctus and B. candidus venoms.

Offspring: Two clutches from two adult female red-headed kraits were studied by Chula University scientists in Bangkok. One clutch was four eggs, and the other, six eggs. After 81-84 days in incubation at 26-27C and the other clutch at 30-32C eggs hatched. Less eggs hatched at the higher temperature incubation. Average hatchling length was 28.9cm +/- .8cm measured from snout to vent. Weight of each was 7.2 to 7.8 grams. Humidity in the incubation enclosures was 60-70%. After 7-10 days all snakes had shed.

Notes: I have seen four of these kraits, and they are quite incredible to find in the wild considering how rare they are. Bungarus flaviceps has not been studied very well, and I suspect that most of the information on Wikipedia and other information sources has been generalized from other Thailand kraits like the Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus) and Many Banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus) because the wording seems too similar to be by chance.

These snakes have not been studied well in captivity or in the wild, except for the previously mentioned study in which the kraits lived surprisingly long. Usually from what I’ve read, the red-headed krait dies quickly in captivity. These kraits are not known to bite during daytime, but, be exceptionally careful when handling them.

The venter (belly) at the tail is red, red-orange on this snake. The rest of the venter is creme colored.

Substrate: Best? Leaves and something large to hide under – wood is best, rocks, something solid.

Ways to differentiate Bungarus flaviceps from the Malayan Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus):

1. B. flaviceps has a triangle cross-section, while C. bivirgatus has more of a round cross-section.
2. C. bivirgatus has a venter that is all red/orange. B. flaviceps has red under the tail only.
3. B. flaviceps reaches about 2 meters while B. bivirgatus grows to just 1.4 meters.
4. B. bivirgatus has lateral lines on both sides of the body toward the venter, that are solid light blue or white.
5. By studying some video one can see how their crawling pattern differs.
6. B. flaviceps has a more sizable head, a wider head, and larger mouth than the coral snake.

7/25/13 Update. At 11:30 pm in a Thailand National Park in Trang Province, a friend and I found a large 1.9+ meter long Bungarus flaviceps on the trail and photographed and shot video of it. Video #1 is of this snake. The photos on this page are all of the same snake. As with all snakes found, it was released in the same spot as where it was found.

Bungarus flaviceps

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: Bungarus flaviceps

Binomial name: Bungarus flaviceps

Classified by Reinhardt, in year, 1843

Photos of Bungarus flaviceps:

Tailing the red-headed krait, Trang Province, Thailand.
Tailing the red-headed krait around 2 a.m. in the middle of the rainforest, Trang Province, Thailand.
Red-headed krait peaking underneath the tail.
After a krait stops trying to get away, you will be lucky to get a little peak before it covers its head.
The red tail is unmistakably krait. The high-vertebral ridge is one of the differentiators between this snake and the similar in color, Blue Malayan Coral Snake.
The tail is unmistakably krait. The high-vertebral ridge is one of the differentiators between this snake and the similar in color, Blue Malayan Coral Snake.

Video 1 – Large Red-Headed Krait caught in Trang Province, southern Thailand:

Video 2 – Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps caught in southern Thailand:

2nd Part of Red Headed Krait #2 Video: