All posts by Vern

Snake posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours and events to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, corals, keelbacks, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species. Here's our latest book with detailed information on Thailand's 35 Deadly Snakes. "Is That Snake In Your House Dangerous? Identify Deadly Thailand Snakes In Under 5 Minutes!" INFO HERE.

Thailand Fishing

When I lived in Florida, I fished a few times per week for hours at a time. I loved it. Best hobby ever. I’ve lived in Thailand for nearly sixteen years and I haven’t been fishing at all. Why? It just seems pointless. I could be wrong, but that’s what this article is about. I want to do a little research into fishing in Thailand and see if there might be hope for anglers wondering the same thing as me.

Does Good Fishing Exist in Thailand?

I’ve seen plenty of Thais standing with their poles in their hands (no pun intended) and waiting for a bite. I’ve seen this along canals, streams, ‘rivers’ like the Krabi ‘river’ which isn’t a river at all, it’s an inlet. I’ve seen this along the beach. Just yesterday I saw three guys wade-fishing off a beach in Tub Kaak, Krabi. I can’t recall ever seeing Thais standing in the water to fish, so I got a brief bit of hope that shore-fishing might be worthwhile.

Shore Fishing in Thailand

In Florida and Hawaii, I fished from the shore often. Here’s a post I wrote about fishing in Hawaii on a website I sold years ago. Here’s an entire website dedicated to Florida fishing (Salty101) that I’ve been adding to recently. I just have that insatiable urge to go fishing again lately now that my interest in Thailand snakes is fading.

I’m not sure why my interest in snakes is fading, I think I’ve just overdone it. Too much of a good thing.

I have sat and watched people fishing from the shore around Thailand’s coasts for hours over the years. I’ve seen nobody catch anything bigger than about 30 cm. Oh wait, there have been some catfish catches I witnessed. I don’t like catfish, I don’t care how big they are. I get no thrill at all out of catching catfish, so I don’t pay attention to them.

Thais catch snakehead fish, catfish, and I think Tilapia in the small water holes in the northeast area of Thailand called Isaan. The water levels dip down due to evaporation and guys climb into the mud and flop around with the fish, trying to throw them up on the bank to eat later.

The amount and variety of pesticides that must have accumulated in that water in the middle of agricultural land must be staggering. I have never eaten one of those fish, and I strongly discourage the wife from them. She still eats them at times.

The fish that I’ve seen caught along the ocean and rivers are what I’d consider baitfish, and also just too small for consumption. Still, Thais appear to keep anything they catch.

I saw on Facebook a guy boasting about fishing trips he was doing from Ao Nang Beach. He showed photos with 30 or so small fish, including very small groupers. Is there no limit on the length of fish you can catch in Thailand? No limit? Or, no enforcement of those limits? Either way, there appears to be absolutely no qualms among fisherman – they’ll catch and eat or sell anything they possibly can.

Hence the reason the fishing from shore sucks in this country. Let’s not even get into gill nets laid across vast areas of grassy breeding grounds. Nobody seems to care, and there is absolutely nothing in shore worth throwing a line out at. Thailand’s shores have been fished out for decades and it isn’t returning anytime soon, even with regulations. Who is going to enforce them? I’ve been out on the water many times over the years here in Krabi. I have NEVER seen any Marine patrol harassing the fishing boats, cast netters, seine netters, or anyone in the water catching marine species of any kind.

Welcome to Thailand, where wildlife is not protected in any way. It’s a free-for-all. Always has been. Probably always will. Who is going to care about it?

Krabi Stocked Saltwater Fishing Lakes

One form of saltwater fishing that does exist in the country are these man-made stalked lakes of massive fish from all over the world. You can pay a couple thousand Thai baht per day and sit on the short of these lakes, throwing bait in on a line and catching fish after fish. Why? Because they probably don’t get enough to eat and they’ll eat anything that hits the water. Who can afford paying for food for these goliath fish that eat as much as humans do (or more) daily?

I just don’t “get” stocked lake fishing. I don’t enjoy it at all. I wouldn’t participate in it at all because it just seems so fake. It’s like walking through one of the snake shows and trying to grab snakes and calling that herping. WTF is that?

Anyway, so, stocked lake fishing is out for me.

Krabi In-shore Fishing from Kayak?

I have seen a local guy with a kayak with fishing poles pictured on our local Krabi Facebook group from time to time. I’ll write him today and update this article if he tells me he has found a place to catch decent fish just off the beach. I’m sure he’s not going too far out.

In Florida I tossed my kayak off the dock behind my apartment and fished all day on Saturday and Sunday. The saltwater canal led to Tampa Bay and a lot of different areas to fish. It was great fun. I’d love to go fishing off a kayak here in Krabi and catch Mahi, Tuna, Kingfish?, snapper, grouper, and even Jack Crevalle.

I don’t know if I’d eat anything found off the beach here in Krabi. I haven’t seen anything suggesting that there were any fish to eat, much less any study done on the mercury and pesticide content of fish caught close to the shore. Again, nobody cares to do any study. Or, there just aren’t any fish in-shore to be testing. Not sure which!

Off-Shore Fishing from a Boat

As I said, I saw a guy offering something like deep-sea fishing on the FB group local to us here. He has a very small boat, so I think he isn’t going out far at all – maybe a few miles tops. People on one of his tours were holding up what appeared to be 13″ Mahi-Mahi (Dorado) and 10″ groupers. Is that something to get excited about? That, and they had about 30 small crevalle jack that they may have netted. I don’t know. That’s not fishing to me. That’s certainly not what I’d pay for.

Longing for Florida

I’ve been thinking for a while now about getting back to Florida to fish. To live maybe. Thailand has it’s good points. It has its bad points. Just like everywhere. The USA certainly has more bad points now than it did when I left! Is it worth considering returning to?

Is there a place in Asia where I can raise my daughters in good schools and with good everything, AND that has great fishing? I don’t know. Australia seems nice, but they have some hoops to jump through for Americans wanting to live and work there. I think I’m already past the age of desirability for that country as well (54).

So I write a lot about fishing in Florida. Fishing from shore you can catch big trout, sheepshead, snook, redfish, black drum, jacks, snapper, grouper, amberjack, cobia… so much variety and size to the fish there. I was never bored. I ate a lot of fish while there too. I didn’t even mention one of my favorite freshwater fish species – the largemouth bass!

Please HELP with Our Ambitious Snake Project

Snakes, and really all reptiles, get a bad rap – don’t they? There are few people who really care about snakes and even fewer who actually do anything to help their cause. I know there are many people who read this site and visit our Facebook page who want to help, but just don’t know how. I hope you choose to help with this project if you can.

I can’t imagine there is any money to be made, so let me say that right upfront. It’s hard for my friend in Laos to even get any state funding for snakebite victims in the country. Every few years, David Warrell creates large reports on the state of snakebites in various areas, and still, there is little funding available for preventing snakebite through education and other services.

Snake Identification Project – an Idea

I’ve been thinking about an idea for a few weeks. I am ready to go forward with it, but I’m definitely going to need some help. In particular, I’m looking for people to HELP IDENTIFY SNAKES from all over the world. Canada, Mexico, USA – and maybe by region (southeast, northwest, etc.), Africa, Guam, Brazil, Australia, Laos, Malaysia, China, India, you get the idea!

I’m thinking about a 6-month goal to get the first service out there for testing. So, there wouldn’t be anything to do for a while. When it does go live, it’s possible that some local experts receive requests for a couple of identifications each day. Here in Thailand I usually get 1-5 requests per day, and there are many other resources where people can go to get snakes identified.

If you ARE INTERESTED IN HELPING and you know snakes for your state, province, country, or even continent, please sign up below. I’ll be contacting you by email shortly.

We’ll also be working on getting an Indiegogo project up and running, so if you would like to help in some way and don’t know how – any contribution you can make to help us tackle snakebite and snake identification worldwide will be very much appreciated.

Snake in the Grass – Meaning?

A keelback snake in the grass - harmless and not going to hurt anyone, even if you step on it.
One harmless SNAKE IN THE GRASS is this keelback. Even if you stepped on this snake and it bit (which it might not even try), you’ll be fine. Not all snakes in the grass are harmful.

A common phrase and saying in the USA is to say someone is a real SNAKE IN THE GRASS. Why is that? What does it mean?

The Meaning of “Snake in the Grass”

Snakes cause fear in most people because they just don’t understand them. I mean, there isn’t that much to understand on the surface, they are animals that eat other animals and they prefer to stay FAR away from human beings. They have no reason to bite humans except that we make them fearful. OK, that’s that.

A snake in the grass is a saying to caution someone against someone’s ulterior motives, personality, intentions, etc. A snake in the grass is supposed to mean someone with bad intentions, someone who is a sneaky devil who is going to pull something over on someone who is unsuspecting.

A snake lays in the grass without bothering anyone. When someone steps on it, and the snake bites, the person thinks that snake was just WAITING there in the grass to bite someone. Hence the saying, like a snake in the grass.

Snakes are so misunderstood. The problem in many places, like Thailand, is that we have SO MANY snakes that it’s impossible to educate the public about this snake being potentially dangerous and that one being completely harmless. Even among people who know something about snakes, snake hobbyists, there are often times when a snake is hard to identify. It takes a long time to get up to speed with exactly what defines a dangerous snake in the grass, so to speak.

Origin of the Snake in the Grass Phrase?

The Roman poet “Virgil” in 37 b.c. in his poem with the Latin words “Latet Anguis in Herba.” Seriously. Before Christ was born, this guy made up the saying to mean a dangerous snake (venomous snake) waiting in the grass to bite someone.

In the USA, the phrase was first used in the title of a book by Charles Leslie, called “Snake in the Grass” in 1696.

For our purposes here, snake in the grass just means a snake in the grass. A treacherous person, one who means harm, is known as a deviant.

Thailand Snakes Overview Video

[Last Updated: 28 November 2019]

Here is some general information about snakes in Thailand to put your mind at ease about the danger of 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.

The video below covers the reality of life in Thailand and whether you will see snakes, and what to do when you do see them.

Each area of the country is slightly different, but snakes exist all over Thailand. Just get used to that idea. Most snakes cannot harm you. All snakes prefer NOT to harm you. They just want to be left alone. They’re not social like puppies and kittens.

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

Banded Krait – Venomous – Deadly

Banded krait - Bungarus fasciatus, venomous and deadly snake in Thailand and many other countries in Southeast Asia.
Yellow and black Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus) venomous and deadly. © Tom Charlton.

These are yellow and black kraits here in Thailand. In some other part of the world (Borneo) they are black and white. There are also Blue Kraits aka “Malayan Kraits” which are black and white. And the really incredible looking Red-headed Krait which looks nothing like either of them.

[Last updated: 28 November 2019]

Banded Krait Snake at Bangkok, Thailand Snake Farm
Yellow Banded Krait. Highly venomous, deadly, and relatively common in Thailand. There is a white and black version also called the Blue Krait. See page on right side. This photo is of a man at the Red Cross Snake Farm in Bangkok.

Bungarus Fasciatus (Banded Krait)

Thais say: (ngoo sam lee-um, or ngoo kan plong) This is a bit confused in Thailand where in southern Thailand any viper is known as Ngoo sam lee-um. Lee-um means triangle, and so some people confuse triangle-shaped heads of the vipers with triangle cross-section of the kraits.

Length: average 1.5 m up to 2 m (about 6.5 feet) In Thailand they don’t usually reach a full 2 meters.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Asia

Notes: I have yet to see a live banded krait in the wild, except a few dead on the roads – but I don’t go digging up ratholes or termite mounds. I may start if I don’t find one soon. I’ve been looking for three years to find a krait with yellow and black bands like these.

At dinner last night I was looking around a small restaurant with many ponds, for snakes. I asked the owner’s son if they had seen any. He said, Ngoo Sam lee-um. That could be the one. I’ll get their permission for some late night herping and try to bag one. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. This restaurant is located on a small hill close to sea-level in southern Thailand. There are many frogs at the ponds, and probably many snakes too.

Update 2015- I’ve been to that restaurant numerous times and not had a call from them about this krait. I am not sure they have been found in Krabi. I have never found road kill B. fasciatus here in Krabi. I have found a large 2 meter dead on the road banded krait in Surat Thani on the main highway leading to Krabi.

Habitat: This Thailand krait lives on the ground and in rat holes and termite mounds, under stumps or rocks and in other cool, damp places. Recently I saw photos of one in some limestone rocks here in Thailand. They prefer wide-open areas near water. They have been found as high as 1,524 meters in Malaysia and about 2,300 meters in Thailand.

Active Time? The snake is mostly nocturnal and is quite active at night. Most bites occur at night, as the kraits move close to people sleeping – usually on the floor, and probably the person moves and the krait bites. More dangerous at night, during the day they are not biters. These kraits are common in the northeast Thailand provinces. Recently a six-year-old boy was bitten and could not be revived. The snake had come up into their home in Surin to escape some flooding.

Food: Other snakes almost exclusively – rat and cat (Boiga) snakes. In captivity, I have seen them eat the following live snakes: Calloselasma rhodostoma, Chrysopelea ornata, and Gonyosoma oxycephalum. One noted herpetologist states that these kraits don’t like to eat water snakes. Will also eat rats, mice, frogs, lizards if snakes cannot be found.

Defensive Behavior: The banded krait is slow acting during the day, lethargic, and usually not interested in striking. However, it can protect itself quite well – it is a strong biter and has been recorded as killing a large type of cattle 60 minutes after a bite.

Banded Krait skull showing fangs, jaw, and other dentition.
Banded Krait skull showing fangs, jaw, and other dentition. Skull located at Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic. Deadly. This yellow/black banded krait from Thailand appears to have venom that is very toxic to humans. The typical LD-50 studies to assess the toxicity of venom in mice, rate this as a very toxic venom as well. These snakes rarely bite during the day, but if they do, they can transfer enough venom to kill you. I read about a person dying in 30 minutes, and another dying in 15 hours.

A famous American herpetologist, Joe Slowinski, was killed by a baby krait (Bungarus multicinctus) in Burma while on a remote expedition. He finally succumbed after 30 hours. They can be quite deadly. The cause of death is that your muscles are paralyzed and your diaphragm can’t work any longer to pull oxygen into your lungs.

Kraits are very deadly in this regard. However, if you are able to get to a hospital with a ventilator you will likely be OK. There is no specific antivenin for snake bites from this snake, but polyvalent venom is used – which can also treat bites from Naja kaouthia and Ophiophagus hannah.

Interesting to note… when fed on a live garter snake the krait venom acts instantly to cause death. Apparently krait venom is very efficient with snakes – the krait’s primary diet.

Handling: The banded and Malayan blue kraits are not known to bite during the daytime. However, at night time they bite rather easily, as evidenced by the numerous krait bites that occur at night to people usually laying down to sleep on the floor either outdoors or in their homes with the door open. I would never handhold kraits like the man is doing in the photo above. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small.

Update: I was contacted by a man who was bitten by this same type of krait during the day at an impromptu show at a bar in Bangkok during the daytime. It bit his arm. He was lucky to live and had lingering effects for more than two years after the bite.

Antivenin:  Polyvalent. It is advised by experts to get antivenin in your bloodstream for krait bites before you have symptoms because once symptoms develop you may have lost nerve functioning that will likely not return.

Offspring: Mating in March-April and 4-14 eggs laid about 60 days afterward. The mother krait remains with the eggs for another 60 days before they hatch. Baby kraits are about 30cm long at birth and have venom. I couldn’t find in the literature whether the mother left the eggs as they started hatching – so she didn’t eat them herself or not. The King Cobra does this instinctively because it also eats other snakes.

Banded Krait Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: B. fasciatus

Binomial name
Bungarus fasciatus
Classified by Schneider in year 1801

Photo of Two Adult Banded Kraits:

2 Banded Kraits - Bungarus fasciatus from southern Thailand, Nakhon si Thammarat province.
Quite deadly, but shy snakes – see the video below.

Video of Jackie with Banded Krait from Nakhon Si Thammarat, Southern Thailand:

Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses from Southeast Asia.
Save about 50% by ordering the ebook!

Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses!

More than 34 stories of venomous snakebite and very near misses from Southeast Asia’s most deadly snakes – King Cobra, Malayan Pit Viper, Monocled Cobra, Banded Krait, Malayan Krait, and more! Digital Book with over 100 pages by Vern Lovic.

Order here!

My Favorite Herping Gear

I Love these Headlamps for Herping

  • My fav. HEADLAMP (light, programmable, Bluetooth, tough)
  • another favorite, less expensive HEADLAMP (tough, crazy bright). Make sure to get the ‘cool white’ option.

My Favorite Knife

My Favorite Gear for High-rez Video

  • 4K Video capable (expensive – replaceable batteries)
  • 4K Video (inexpensive, stabilization not as good as above. I have this one.)

Incredible Macro Lenses

Mobile Phone with 4K Backup

Oriental Whip Snake – Mildly Venomous and Not Dangerous

Oriental Whip Snake, Ahaetulla prasina, from Thailand
Oriental Whip Snake – Venomous – Not Dangerous

The oriental whip snake is a very common rear-fanged venomous snake found here in Thailand’s rain forests. You can find these snakes in the trees during the day, I have even seen them crossing my path twice on trips up a small local mountain in southern Thailand.

The beauty of these snakes is legendary. There are green, yellow, or grey phases of this snake, all of which are spellbindingly beautiful. The juvenile whip snakes are often brown or yellow.

Ahaetulla prasina (Oriental Whip snakes)

Thai Language: ngoo kee-ow hoo-uh jing joke pa

Length: Up to 190 cm. Girth: The body is finger thin, tapering to a very thin pencil-width neck. The head is spear-shaped and bright green.

Range: All over Thailand. The species ranges from India to China and throughout Southeast Asia.

Habitat: During the day you can find these snakes in trees and bushes usually. Occasionally they will be at ground level hunting frogs and small lizards. I have seen these snakes in all kinds of habitat, but usually in trees and leafy bushes. At night these snakes sleep in the same environment.

Active Time? Diurnal – active during the daylight hours.

Food: Frogs, small birds, small lizards.

Defensive Behavior: The oriental whip snake can spread its neck area to increase by double in size as a defensive technique designed to scare attackers. It is quite beautiful when either solid green or with the green, white and black checkered pattern displayed in full defensive posture. Sort of comical is what the snake does with its tongue when molested. It sticks the tongue out and holds it there for some seconds, or minutes.

Venom Toxicity: Weak. Although this is considered to be a rear-fanged and venomous snake it is not very dangerous to humans due to its non-aggressive nature and weak venom characteristics. The venom would need to be injected into the wound with time – with a chewing motion. Not many people bitten are going to let a snake hang off them for any amount of time. Some do, and they may have severe complications and require hospitalization.

Offspring: In Thailand, the Ahaetulla prasina can mate during either of two times. Usually between April and July, and then also between December and January. Gestation period: ~ 6 months. Number of births: 4-10. Lengths at birth of offspring: 400 – 500 mm.

Notes: These are wonderful little snakes to catch and let go. These snakes do not do well in captivity and many die within days of being kept in an enclosure. They are as beautiful as snakes get, but please resist the urge to capture one to keep as they are very sensitive and die easily.

We have not been bitten by these snakes, but in the wild when catching them they will attempt to strike at times. They are fast and have a short striking range. What is really amazing about these snakes is the way they effortlessly glide down a hill or through trees like on ice. They can climb extremely fast and disappear before you have a chance to grab them. See the video below!

These snakes are not often confused with other snakes here in Thailand because they are quite distinctive. Their head is long and to a fine point. They are very thin at the neck before the head unless they have flared up in defense.

Ahaetulla prasina

Oriental Whipsnake (Ahaetulla prasina)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Ahaetulla
Species: Ahaetulla prasina

Binomial name: Ahaetulla prasina
(Classified by Shaw, in the year 1802)

Photo of a brown-hued Ahaetulla prasina shot by Tom Charlton – shown here with permission:

Brown Oriental Whip Snake - Ahaetulla prasina from Thailand
Sometimes they are brown. Juveniles are usually white with some green, yellow, brown, or grey.

Photo of an Ahaetula prasina.

Oriental Whip Snake, Ahaetulla prasina, venomous, rear-fanged snake from Thailand
Ahaetulla prasina – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Oriental Whip Snake Videos:

Mangrove Pit Viper – Venomous – Dangerous

Mangrove pit viper in mangrove trees in Krabi province, Thailand.
Mangrove Pit Viper (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus) is Dangerous and Bites Frequently. Photo courtesy of Carlton Wagner and Michael Miller, used with permission.
Mangrove Pit Viper - Thailand
Not found near homes much – but, here is one…

Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus – Mangove Pit Viper

Also known as mangrove viper, shore pit viper, Gray’s pit viper, purple-spotted pit viper, and shore pit viper. In the past (2004-2011) this snake was called Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus.

Thais Say: Ngoo pang ka

Length: Males grow to about 60 cm and females to 90 cm on average.

Habitat: Usually near water and very wet areas like mangroves along the ocean or brackish water. However, recently one was found on a sidewalk by a bungalow on the island of Koh Phi Phi in Krabi province, Thailand. They like stream banks with good cover – low lying plants that they can hide under. They also may like hilly habitat and have been found as high as 2,000 meters elevation in bamboo jungles. These snakes are found in high numbers on islands around Thailand. I have found this species in some abundance along the shore in mangroves in Krabi province.

Behavior: Diurnal and arboreal. These snakes are very easily agitated, and once they get going they are slow to calm down. Their strikes are very fast, but have a short reach. These are known by snake handlers to have a “bad temper.”

These Thailand pit vipers can have many color variations. They are usually like the photo above – greyish with a bit of purple in the coloring. Some are very purple. We’ve also seen a brownish toned mangrove pit viper with some yellow highlights. Now for our top photo we have a greenish toned viper. Obviously – color is highly variable in this species. Tom Charlton found black variations on Langkawi Island in Malaysia, and John Paul Foenander has also found dark, even black, specimens in Singapore.

Venom toxicity: Venomous and very toxic to humans. Though people have died as a result of bites from this snake, this is not usually the case. Symptoms – pain, severe swelling, bruising, blistering, and necrosis are more likely.

Here (it isn’t live any longer) is a study of treating a bite by this snake with T. albolabris antivenom from the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute with some success.

Treatment: Antivenin is indicated.

Antivenom Name – Green Pit Viper Antivenin (Code – SAsTRC01)
Manufacturer: Thai Red Cross Society
Phone: +66-2-252-0161, 0162, 0163, 0164
Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute
1871 Rama IV Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Thailand

Mangrove Pit Viper Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Trimeresurus
Species: T. purpureomaculatus

Classified as – Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus by Gray in year 1832.

Mangrove pit viper photo courtesy of, and full copyright by – Richard Richert. Thanks Richard!

[Page Updated: 28 November 2019]

Puff Faced Water Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Puff Faced Water Snake - Homalopsis buccata from Nakhon si Thammarat
Juvenile Puff Faced Water Snake – Homalopsis buccata – Not Dangerous. ©2010

[Page Updated: 28 November 2019]

Homalopsis buccata (Puff-faced Water Snake)

Thai – (ngu hua galog, ngu leuam ao)

Size – Average length around 70 cm. Maximum about 120 centimeters. The young are very thin – like a pencil. The adults are thick – like a forearm or even a human leg.

Description – Triangular head distinct from neck. Color varies quite a bit. Brown with incomplete orange bands on the dorsum and laterals, or brown with beige bands, or black with grey bands. Many variations. Sometimes the snake appears quite orange.

Range – All over Thailand and almost always beside or in water: Pools, streams, rivers, puddles, lakes. They are not found on hills or mountains.

Food – Prey includes fish, frogs, and tadpoles primarily.

Behavior – The water snake Homalopsis buccata lives in fresh and salty mixed with fresh – brackish water. These snakes live in and near any body of water – natural or man-made. Puff-Faced Watersnakes are found almost always in the water or on the bank. Small holes in the bank are often home for these snakes.  This snake is primarily active at night, but I have found a few during the daytime.

Young – Born alive without eggs. Coloration – orange and black bands.

Danger – I’ve found dozens of these snakes and they are typically strong and active biters. They can strike like a viper – backward and vertically. I’ve been bitten in the finger by a 70 cm. long snake when I was 5 inches away from the head, coming from behind to grab the neck. With the bright headlamp in his eyes, I don’t know how he could have possibly seen my hand coming. It wasn’t a glancing strike, he bit and held on for a couple of minutes. I have heard others say these snakes don’t tend to bite. Maybe they are talking about in their experiences in the pet-trade.

Range – Bangladesh; Myanmar, Cambodia; Thailand; Vietnam; Indonesia; Laos; Malaysia; Singapore; India; Nepal; Pulau Bangka

Homalopsis buccata – Puff-faced Water Snake

Puff-faced Water Snake Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Homalopsis
Species: H. buccata
Binomial name
Homalopsis buccata

Classification by Linnaeus in 1758

If you’re looking for Thailand Sea Snake Info Click Here.

Brown Whip Snake – Dryophiops rubescens – Not Dangerous

Keel-bellied whip snake, Dryophiops rubescens. Thailand.

Here is a whip snake that was a bit of a mystery for a while, my first one was finally identified by an American expat snake researcher in Bangkok – Michael Cota in 2007.

This snake is found in Southern Thailand. We’ve found some in Krabi province of Thailand. There were a couple found in the southernmost provinces – near Narathiwat – near the Malaysian border.

Dryophiops rubescens (Keel-bellied Whip Snake)

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 browner 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.

Dryophiops rubescens - Brown-Whip-Snake - Krabi, Thailand
Dryophiops rubescens – Brown Whip Snake. Rear fanged. Not dangerous to humans. Relatively rare.

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 the 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 thinner than my smallest finger.

Range: Literature has this snake occurring only in Thailand’s deep south, but we have found half-a-dozen in various spots around Krabi province – so, obviously the range includes this province, probably as well as others.

Habitat: Trees and ground. I found a few on the ground and some in the trees. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush. I’ve also found them twice on 60 cm diameter trees, climbing slowly. Recently we found one hanging out in the curve of a guardrail on a mountain in Krabi.

Active Time? Diurnal, but possibly also nocturnal – they’ve been found on trees at night and appear to be hunting. Most of our finds were during daylight hours.

Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily. Possibly small insects.

Defensive Behavior: Accurate strikers! One of the ones we’ve had didn’t bite at all. One got me in the head twice before I even knew it struck. Another tagged my finger, striking quickly and very accurately. I bled slightly. No ill effects were noted.

Venom Toxicity: Weak for humans. Effective for geckos, lizards and frogs. These are rear-fanged colubrids and a prolonged bite could possibly cause swelling and pain at the bite site.

Offspring: Nothing known.

Notes: These are really beautiful snakes resembling the Ahaetulla prasina in body morphology 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

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

(Classified by Grey, in the year 1835.)

Video – Brown Whip Snake from Southern Thailand:

Video of Another Keeled Whip Snake from Krabi Province in Thailand:

Page Updated: 12 February 2020