Tag Archives: thailand snakes

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 of your outdoor refrigerator can kill you. I just wrote a story about that on ThaiPulse.com/blog/. 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.

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.

Currently I have two baby 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 bit 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 Thai kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a very small one – 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. The two I have now, and the two I had before were almost 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 or larger. 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 couple moving around at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve only seen three 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 – versus that of the king cobras, which don’t flare out that widely.

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 ‘extra-bitey.’

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 stops. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. Eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 and 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:

My 2 Previous Monocled Cobras in the Tank:

Recent Snake Bites in Thailand – King Cobra and Malayan Pit Viper

Malayan pit viper with eggs
Calloselasma rhodostoma (Malayan Pit Viper) with eggs.

Here’s a bit of news out of Krabi province. Just in the last month I’ve come across two people that were bitten by two of the worst snakes in the country, in all of the world really.

The first case was almost expected. I mean, you work with deadly snakes everyday, multiple times each day, and you’ll eventually slip up and one will get you. That’s what happened to a young 19 year old that works at a cobra show. He was doing the show with the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). He was on his knees and moving his head around to entice the snake to strike. He stopped moving for a brief second, and the snake struck at his shoulder. The bite was more of a scrape, but it definitely scraped the shoulder of the boy pretty deeply. His scar looks serious enough. To be bitten on the shoulder right there, near the heart and near some big blood vessels probably would not have resulted in a good situation had he been envenomated. But, he lucked out tremendously. The big cobra didn’t inject any venom. LUCKY OWEN!

As you probably know, king cobras have a venom that is not all that potent. I mean, it’s comparable with pit viper venom as far as cytotoxic damage it does, but it also has the neurotoxic component that renders muscle useless and stops the heart and breathing. The exceptional power of the king cobras bite is that it can transfer up to 7 ml of venom into the body of a victim. The usual amount is about .5 ml, and that’s enough to kill most people with a good bite.

The second case of snake bite in Krabi happened to a woman that was working in her garden at mid-day. There had been no rain at all for about two months prior to the bite incident. She kept her garden water on a lot during the day so she could water her plants. The snake, a Malayan pit viper, was coiled under some plants enjoying the cool water. She put her hand close to where it was, and ZAP. It tagged her with both fangs on the hand. She quickly wento to the hospital, but never did present any symptoms. Another dry bite! So, two-for-two here in Krabi.

Venomous snake bites result in a dry bite around 50% of the time. That means that you have a 50-50 chance that there will be no other complications other than the damage to your skin where the fangs penetrated.

Be careful in your garden, and walking around. May through December is the time in Thailand and many bordering countries where snakes are at their most abundant and most active. Be especially careful not to tread on or near the Russell’s Viper or Malayan Pit Viper. These are two vipers that are well hidden on the ground and don’t tend to move out of the way when someone is walking toward them. At night – use a flashlight (torch) to see where you’re putting your feet as you walk. You do NOT want to be bitten by a venomous snake in Thailand. Take care!

 

Thailand Snakes Overview Video

Here is some general information about snakes in Thailand to put your mind at ease about the danger of the venomous snakes in the country. There is little to be afraid of if you are coming to visit Thailand for a few days, even a month. You are not likely to see any snakes at all unless you are out specifically looking for them. Even then, sometimes when I go looking, I don’t find any snakes after hours of looking. A friend just north of me in Hua Hin told me that he and another two guys just went out for 6 hours the other night and found nothing. That is the way it goes sometimes.

Anyway, watch this video for information about Thailand snakes in general. If you have any questions, just comment or write me an email. Cheers!

Thailand Herping Report by David Frohlich (Acrochordus granulatus)

Thailand Herping Report by David Frohlich (Acrochordus granulatus)

I decided to go herping in a mangrove forest near Pranburi, Thailand with a friend of mine, George. We arrived there at about 8:00 p.m. The weather during March was warm and the sky was clear. Surprisingly not many insects were calling. We found 3 Long-nosed Vine Snakes (Ahaetulla nasuta) in the first 30 minutes of the walk and we were very happy with that. But they were nothing compared to the next snake I spotted about 1 hour later at about 9:30 p.m.

I saw a black and white banded snake surfacing in mid-river for air. I immediately ran into the water to grab it! My first thought was that it’s a krait of some sort, but then quickly realized that its not. It turns out it was the rare Marine File Snake also known as the “Wart Snake” (Acrochordus granulatus)! These snakes grow to about 1 meter long and has black and white banding the entire length of the body. They are rather rare marine snakes that are active at night and are predominantly water dwellers. They eat small fish and saltwater eels. What a beautiful snake! I had never seen one of these before. The skin feels rough like sand, but at the same time very soft as well. Unlike any snake I have ever felt, very difficult to describe. The eyes are bright blue and the tail is slightly flattened into a paddle shape. Once I brought it out on land to get a good look at it, I felt 7 huge lumps in the snakes body in the back half of the body. I’m am assuming she is pregnant and those lumps are the juveniles, these snakes don’t lay eggs like most snakes, they give live birth. I am very happy to have found this truly awesome snake in Thailand.

The Marine File Snake is non-venomous and of no danger to humans. Acrochordus granulatus can be quickly identified by small blue eyes located on top it’s head, the lack of enlarged ventral scales, and loose-fitting skin with a gritty, sandy feel to it. On land, it is very sluggish and moves slowly. This snake is in the same Genus as the Javan File Snake (Acrochordus javanicus), which is brown in color, as thick as a human leg, and up to 3 meters in length.

Here is a short video of the snake:

Here are some photos of the Marine File Snake in the location found:

Achrochordus granulatus - Marine File Snake Handheld
Copyright 2014 David Frohlich.
Achrochordus granulatus - Marine File Snake Full Body Photo
Copyright 2014 David Frohlich.
Achrochordus granulatus - Marine File Snake Close up photo
Copyright 2014 David Frohlich.

Found Another New Snake – Not Yet Classified – Possible New Discovery

New Green Snake - Thailand

I was getting in one of my mountain climbing workouts and on the dead tree next to me was a small (50cm) dark green snake coming out of a hole where it looked like termites were munching wood. He was head down and just gliding slowly down the vertical trunk of the tree.

I ripped off my shirt and softly grabbed it. I’ve caught 3 of these same species of snake before, and none of them bit or struck, but I don’t take any chances when I don’t know what kind of snake it is.

I had my friend give me a plastic bag and I put the snake in there until I could drink all my water from a bottle and transfer the snake into the bottle. It was 10 minutes before I would find something to poke holes in the bottle. I let air in twice during that time. I’m always scared they don’t have enough to breathe.

I got home and tried to shoot some photos and video, but the light is horrible today and the snake was not cooperative at all. It is calm, but it is calm and full of energy. It never stops in one place so I can get a good photo. Hence the photos I’ll upload to this page are not perfect. Will work on getting better images tomorrow.

Also tomorrow I’ll try to get scale counts and some better video. It’s exciting to know that very few (or nobody) has seen this snake before. It isn’t described in the literature for Thailand. Maybe it came up the peninsula from Malaysia. Not sure. Anyway, enjoy the pics. Will post more as I get them.

New Oligodon Snake Discovery

Are Thailand Snakes Dangerous to Visitors?

A deadly Thailand snake, the red-headed krait (Bungarus flaviceps). These are extremely rare.
A deadly Thailand snake, the red-headed krait (Bungarus flaviceps). These are extremely rare.

I often receive email from people that are deathly afraid of venomous and other snakes in Thailand. Some people refuse to visit the country after finding a website like ThailandSnakes.com. They get the idea that snakes are rampant all over Thailand and that they are unavoidable. The truth is much different. You are not likely to see any snakes in Thailand during your visit. Even if you go looking for them, snakes are difficult to locate. The other night I went out for over three hours in the heart of snake country, and still didn’t find any snake.

Anyway, here is an email I just sent to someone to help allay fears of snakes in Thailand.

* * * * *

Hi Brian,

Snakes are really about the least harmful things you could ever come across for a couple of reasons…

1. They have no legs or arms. They are basically a long tail. They cannot move fast on the ground, I mean fast in comparison to humans. We can easily outrun any snake that exists.
2. Only the very large pythons in Thailand might target a human being as prey. Everything else gets away as fast as possible – even when confronted.
3. There are about 8 deaths per year due to venomous snake bite in Thailand. Probably every one of them are plantation workers that get bitten, apply some “magical salve” made of ground leaves and roots, and then, when they realize their foot or hand is gangrenous – go to the hospital too late. Occasionally a snake handler is bitten and dies – they tease the snakes mercilessly, day after day, and eventually a snake gets in a lucky bite.
4. You have to really piss snakes off before most of them will bite… or, be too close. So, don’t get close and don’t aggravate them.

I have never heard of a tourist, visitor, foreigner, being bitten by and killed by a deadly snake in Thailand. People have cobras in their yard, vipers, whatever else… the snakes do NOT want to see humans and will get away at every opportunity.

Just be cautious walking in grass outside. Don’t walk anywhere you cannot see where your feet are stepping.

If you see a snake in your yard – grab a photo, send it to me, and I’ll let you know if it was venomous. If so, and you see it again and can watch where it goes – call the EMS or police in your area, and they’ll know the snake guys that can come take it away for you.

If you’re bitten by a snake, stay calm and go to the hospital. Venom usually takes hours before you’re debilitated. Wait to see if symptoms even develop. A good portion of bites don’t include envenomation. They are dry bites, so to speak. Little or no venom is released through the fangs during a dry bite. There have been studies done with cobras and vipers that show that 30-50% of bites are dry bites, even when the snake is directly stepped on.

Hope this helps. I’ll repost it at the thailandsnakes.com site. Maybe it will help someone else relax a bit about snakes here.

Cheers,

Vern L.

www.ThailandSnakes.com
www.Facebook.com/ThailandSnakes
www.youtube.com/user/thaipulsedotcom
www.youtube.com/user/ThailandSnakes

Wagler’s Pit Viper – Venomous – Dangerous

Tropidolaemus wagleri - Wagler's Pit Viper - Dangerous
Tropidolaemus wagleri – Wagler’s Pit Viper – Dangerous

Tropidolaemus wagleri Also called: Wagler’s Pit viper; temple viper; bamboo snake; speckled pit viper.

Thais say: ngoo keow took geh

Length: Average length of 60 cm. Male smaller than female. Female maximum length at 100 cm.

Range: Southern Thailand south of Khao Sok National Park, Suratthani province. Other countries: West Malaysia; Indonesia; Philippines. There is a concentration of them on the island of Phuket, Thailand.

Habitat: Behaviour/habitat: Elevations up to about 1,200 meters but most abundant at elevations up to about 600 meters in lowland primary forest, secondary forest and jungle – especially coastal mangrove. During the day these vipers rest in the trees 2-3 meters off the ground.

Active Time? Mainly nocturnal, but occasionally found during the day, especially during or after rain. Crepuscular in nature, they are more often active during dusk and dawn, or on an unusually dark day during heavy rain.

Food: Birds – especially baby birds in the nest; rodents; lizards; frogs.

Defensive Behavior: Coil back into s-shape and strike. Strike is typically less than .3 meters in distance. Mouth wide open exposing fangs and white tissue. Can strike in succession rather quickly. Their strike is not very fast in comparison with some of the other vipers. The heat-sensing pits between the eyes can sense temperature difference as little as 0.003 degrees Celsius.

Venom Toxicity: Potentially deadly. Strong venom that usually does not result in death to humans. Victims experience a strong burning sensation upon envenomation, and swelling, necrosis of tissue.

Offspring:

Notes: Though these snakes are said to be exclusively arboreal and nocturnal, I found one on a mountain recently during the middle of the day, on the ground, during a rain shower.

These snakes have a wide variety of colors and patterns.

Tropidolaemus wagleri

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Tropidolaemus
Species: T. wagleri
Binomial name: Tropidolaemus wagleri

Classified by Boie, in the year 1827.

Top of head – very triangular, and thin neck:

Triangle Head - Wagler's Pit Viper

Video 1 – Wagler’s Pit Viper – found on a mountain in Krabi province, Southern Thailand.

Mangrove Pit Viper on Koh Samui

Mangrove Pit Viper Snake - Koh Phi Phi Krabi Thailand

This photo comes from a reader that was writing postcards in her bungalow on the island of Koh Phi Phi, in Thailand’s Krabi province when she noticed a Mangrove Pit Viper (Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus) near her foot!

This is not the snake you want near your foot, as they are heat-sensing, and some are known to be strike-happy.

Luckily she was able to move away in time. This snake is so beautiful. They come in yellow, brown, purple, and black colorations. Awesome to get a photo of this one. Thanks Céline Borel!

Photo 2013 Copyright, Céline Borel.

Thailand Snakes 2013

Well, 2012 was a great year for herping, and I found a lot of snakes to add to the list of new species I’ve seen. I enjoyed the year quite a bit, and I was able to get out during the day a lot more than I have previously. I have to say, the daytime snakes, with the exception of the King Cobra, and Monocled Cobras, are not all that worth going out in the heat for. I much prefer night time snake hunting.

During the night you can find not only the most interesting group of snakes, but many lizards, geckos, spiders, scorpions, bats, owls, centipedes, and other beasties. Night time is the right time for looking for snakes in Thailand.

I’ve had a number of requests from readers of the site and from Youtube viewers, to go herping this year that I just couldn’t manage. I have to say, I got dozens of requests this year to join people for herping, and for those that look at me as a tour guide to introduce them to the basics of snake hunting.

I have to say honestly – I’m not interested in joining beginners for herping in Thailand. I don’t enjoy the responsibility. I haven’t enjoyed in the past, people that couldn’t follow the few safety guidelines I gave them before we started. I am interested in herping with experienced herpetologists and amateurs that know something already about snakes – whether native to Thailand or some other spot in the world. If I’m not learning anything during the excursion, then it isn’t really worth it for me. I enjoy teaching people about snakes, but my time is so limited, I’ve got to be getting something out of it in the way of education, or it probably just isn’t worth it to me.

In the previous year I had over 800 requests for identification of snakes – through the online form there in the upper right side of the all web pages on the site. That’s pretty amazing. I wish I had the time to respond within 24 hours to each request I get, but again, time is at a premium and it usually takes me a few weeks, and even months, to respond to requests there. Eventually I do respond, so if you have a non-urgent snake ID request, submit it there and I’ll get to it as time permits.

If you have photos – just send them immediately to: info@thailandsnakes.com and I can usually respond within minutes. I am on the computer much of the day, and when I see a request with photos come over the email – I answer immediately. I answer fast because I don’t want the snake to be killed, if there is a chance of that. Secondly, and of course more importantly, I don’t want anyone to mess with dangerous snakes, so I want to ID it quickly and let people know if the snake might be deadly or dangerous.

In 2013 I hope to finally publish a free ebook I’ve been working on for a couple of months, Snakes of Thailand. This will be a book you can put on your mobile phone, iPad, computer, whatever electronic device you have – so you can identify some of the snakes you see. I’ll list some information in the book, but mostly it will be full of photos and some quick facts about whether it is deadly or not – along with some key identifying features to distinguish between snakes that look similar.

I have not posted many photos from viewers that sent them to be posted on the site in 2012. I have hundreds that I just didn’t have the time to post. I’m tremendously busy with some other pursuits, and expect to have little free time in 2013 for fun stuff involving snakes.

If you want to write any articles about Thailand snakes, or any Thailand wildlfe or environmental concerns – whether it includes snakes or not, send it to me by email. I may be open to posting it, depending on the content.

Have a great 2013…

Cheers,

Vern

Trip to Ubon Ratchathani, Not Intending to Snake Hunt

I just returned from a trip to Ubon in the northeast. Though I didn’t do any active snake hunting, in two days I saw two snakes. The first was a striped keelback that I passed on the road, I thought it was hit by the wheel of a motorbike. I circled around and found it struggling to pull it’s teeth out of a fresh road killed frog on the pavement. It was trapped there, looking at me and frantically trying to unsnag his teeth. Finally it did so and disappeared in the tall grass. Lovely snake…

The second, I had just stopped to put on my rain poncho on the side of the highway and a 2 meter Ptyas carinatus – black as coal, came out of the grass by a pool of water and mud – and crossed the dirt road I stopped on – not more than 3 meters from me. Awesome… I didn’t chase, as it also disappeared into thick vegetation.

I’d say snake hunting in the northeast is probably more productive than it is in the south during the heavy rains.

Another report, this one from down south… While I was away in Ubon, 1600km north east… I got a call from a friend that he had just caught a 2 meter king cobra and did I want to come and pick it up??

HA! Damn me! I could have died… that’s just the size king I wanted to see too…

Oh well, it doesn’t often happen that snakes are found when you’re looking, but even less when you’re not looking. The snakes seem to be out and about at the moment. The ID requests here at Thailand Snakes are going through the roof, but it’s fun seeing all the photos. If you’ve got some – send ‘em!

Cheers,

Vern