Thailand Snake Note: Most Common Snakes

Common Thailand Snakes

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 blue coral snakes. I have only seen one blue coral snake crossing a highway between Surat and Krabi – and I was lucky to see that.

Thailand Snake - Red Tailed Racer, Gonyosoma oxycephalum
Found often in southern Thailand – the Red Tailed Racer, Gonyosoma oxycephalum.

Red-tailed Racer (Gonyosoma oxycephalum) This is a fairly large rat snake reaching over one meter in length. It has no fangs to deliver venom, and can be considered harmless for humans. It does bite, of course, so stay out of reach. This is an incredibly beautiful snake with green hues, blue-green eyes, and black and blue tongue. Stunning!


Radiated Rat Snake - Copperhead Racer

Radiated Rat Snake / Copper-headed Racer (Coelognathus radiata) – 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 Snake - Southern Thailand

 

Red necked keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) is now classified as a deadly venomous snake.
Red Necked keelback – do not keep as a pet – bites can cause serious kidney damage.

 

Red-necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) Brightly colored snakes that become more so when agitated. These brightly colored snakes are found in captivity across the globe. They were previously considered non-venomous and not dangerous until recently. Death has occurred as a direct result of envenomation from this species, though not in Thailand. In Thailand we have had a number of close calls. Renal failure after bites is one of the possible potentially deadly outcomes.


Yellow Spotted Keelback from Southern Thailand

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 are generally easily identified by distinct black (dark) lines from the eye area toward the jaw. Most keelbacks in Thailand are not very dangerous, but you wouldn’t want to let one bite down for more than a second or two. Remove immediately – even if you have to hurt the snake to do so, especially those in the Rhabdophis genus.


Golden Tree Snake - Southern Thailand

Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata) A very common tree snake and their favorite food appears to be Gekko gecko, the Tokay Geckos, so you may see one at your home. These snakes have a mild venom that doesn’t generally affect humans at all. These snakes do traverse across the ground but quickly find a tree when threatened. Masterful climbers!


Thailand Bronzeback Snake Strikes

Bronzeback Snakes – also incredible climbers, I first saw one as it came over my six-foot concrete wall in the back of the house in Surat Thani. 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! Mildly venomous colubrids, and not dangerous to humans.


Oriental Whip Snake - Southern Thailand

Oriental Whip Snakes (Ahaetulla prasina) A very common snake, and usually found in trees, but the last two I found were on the ground probably hunting lizards or frogs. The bright fluorescent greens in this snake are awesome, yes? These have a mild venom, but again, no serious results of envenomation have occurred in humans.


Malayan Pit Viper - Southern Thailand Venomous and Deadly Snake

Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) A very dangerous pit viper whose venom is severely cytotoxic and potentially deadly. Causes the death of more people in Thailand than any other snake. Bites quickly. Lazy to get out of the way if you’re walking toward it, usually just lays still. Always found at ground level, and often on top of, or under leaves.


Green Cat Snake - Southern Thailand

Green Cat Snake (Boiga cyanea) This snake is 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.


There are other common snakes not pictured here. Some of the black rat snakes – Ptyas korros, are especially common, but they look very much like the monocled cobras to the untrained eye. Do be very cautious of any snake that is solid brown, grey, black, or that is mostly dark with some white spots – speckles or odd pattern. Cobras are quick to bite and one of the most deadly daylight snakes you’ll encounter.

Be especially careful of cobra snakes which can spit venom 2-3 meters away (farther with a strong wind!). They can temporarily blind you as they make their getaway, but the problem is your eyes will be burning until you can flush them with water for 10-20 minutes.

Kraits are snakes active by night for the most part. The banded krait and the Malayan blue krait are both deadly snakes – the former with yellow and black bands about the same thickness, and the latter with black and white bands, the black bands are thicker near the neck, and more evenly spaced farther down on the tail.

About Vern Lovic

All posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours to find cobras, kraits, vipers, coral snakes, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has around 200 snake species with around 60 of them venomous and dangerous to humans.

13 thoughts on “Thailand Snake Note: Most Common Snakes”

  1. I absolutely love your site. I am a novice herpetologist enthusiast at best and while I would love to know what snakes I run across, the ones in Thailand seem incredibly dangerous and unpredictable.

    Any chance you are a lizard enthusiast as well?

    1. Hi Ron – thanks for your comment. I like lizards a lot – but, I can’t possibly manage to learn about everything and keep it straight in my head. I have a lot of lizard videos and snake videos at my YouTube site here: Thailand Videos

  2. I like your site, very interesting.

    We have some snakes living in and around our garden. When I say some, I mean one very, very big python, which I made a short video of and it looks like it has a dog or something similar inside it, making its slow way into the undergrowth outside.

    We have found a clutch of about 40, hand sized eggs that the neighbor sent to the local vet.

    We have in the last few weeks seen a fairly big, 1 metre, green diamond backed snake that our dog saw off. That was in our garden, it’s now under some wood in the garden and me, my wife, the maid and the kids are a bit scared to go near it as it was fast.
    We had a constrictor outside our kitchen, behind a rubbish bin that was eating a frog and looked a bit like the 1 metre snake with the diamond back, but was much smaller. The one eating the frog was only about 1 foot long.
    Not long ago a python was climbing our tree outside, it was about 4, 5 feet and not very thick, about twice a thumb thickness.
    I fight with my wife all the time as she tries to kill them and I have to stop her, although I must say, I am getting a bit tired of how frequently they appear.

    Keep up the good site, it must take a lot of your time keeping it updated, but worth it.

    The large python

    http://youtu.be/LuSJJlxVltc

    The frog eating snake

    http://youtu.be/6FVzNJjTgm0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FVzNJjTgm0

  3. We get frequent visits to our Edge of Junglr Garden by various reptiles – mainky snakes, lizards etc. Currently we have observed Red Back Snakes of various sizes. The Maid wants to kill them but I believe they are hunting the frogs/toads we have in our back garden. Trouble is when we do see a snake we do not have time to run into the house to find our Snake ID Book to see if dangerous or not. Only worried if my kids are confronted by one. Otherwise live and let live. Like your site. Well Done. Tony R.

  4. Hi Vern,
    I like your site very interesting and well explained!
    Many Specimens that I had never seen before visiting your site.
    Continue to send us your videos who are very informative.
    Takes care of yourself and be careful…;-)

    Cheers

    Andy

  5. I just had a 3 meter Python in the Garden, i stay in the Coconut land on Koh Samui, i love snake, thanks for your site…..i can finally put names to some of the creatures i see.

  6. hi, thank you for the site living in phuket my thai wife,child and now i have been seeing what we now believe(thanks to your site) to be a golden tree snake in our yard . same behavior you describe very fast an ground then goes up a tree in our yard we have planted many papaya trees and he can hide in them easily.
    what are the chances oh a Malayan Pit Viper finding its way into our yard and hiding under dead papaya leaves? we live in a quieter part of phuket near many rubber plantations.
    we all have a live and let live attitude like many thais , just would like to keep the deadly snakes away if possible.

    cheers , tom and family

    1. Hi Tom,

      I think Malayan Pit Vipers can be found just about anywhere on ground. I’ve found them under leaves too. Recently there was one in my driveway in a subdivision – surrounded by a brick wall. How it got in – no idea. It’s always good to be cautious if you have kids around.

      Cheers!

  7. Hi,
    I live in Phuket and had my first snake encounter this morning. It was long and thin just over a metre and was gliding across my roof. It was a pale green colour with a nice pattern along the body and at the head. I took a photo and went for help but when I returned it had gone.
    Thanks for an extremely informative site.
    Regards,
    Mike

  8. Hi,

    Im currently on vacation in Thailand (right now in Hua Hin) and, although I have no knowledge about snakes, I have always been fascinated by them and, above all, by their beauty.

    One of the Thai guys who I have been do some horseriding tours here seems very concerned by my interest in snakes – the Thais seem fearful and very superstitious of this creature. Den informed me that if you kill a King Cobra, you better make sure that you kill his wife, too (or vice versa) as he/she will come after you. He honestly bleive this …. I didn’t even know that snakes lived in couples !

    Anyway, love your site and has certainly kindled my interest in snakes even more !

    Kind regards

    K

    1. Hi Kay, Thanks for your comment. Hua Hin has a lot of snakes – outside of Bangkok, this is where I get the most requests to identify snakes people see in Thailand.

      Ha! Thais have some great superstitious beliefs… the killing of the king and the husband or wife coming to get you is one of the best. Snakes don’t live in couples. No sense telling them otherwise though.

      Have a great vacation,

      Cheers,

      Vern

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