Category Archives: snake research

Banded Kraits Mating Through a Net Fence in Udonthani, Thailand

I was going to wait until I had time to post this, but I just can’t – I’m too excited to show it to you all.

This was sent to me by John Oles from Udonthani, Thailand. Instead of retell the story, I’ll post what he sent to me:

I live 18km outside of the city of Udon (NE Thailand).  About 3 weeks ago a friend was visiting our property.  After supper, I took him to the far corner of our yard to view the fireflies, about 8PM. The area is heavily shaded (during the day) with native trees and is on what my wife calls a giant termite pile (emphasis on giant). It’s pretty much a swampy area, except for on the approximately 30m square termite pile. The area has mongoose, wild ducks, and white rump shamas as well. As we were entering that area, we noticed a yellow krait off to the side of the trail. When we looked closer (but not too close!), it appeared to be one krait (the shiny one) eating another krait (the not so shiny one that’s on the other side of the netting). But as we observed a bit closer, we could see the tails of the two snakes intertwined, apparently mating.
Our best guess was that the shinier of the two kraits was about 1.5 meters, while the duller of the two appears to be slightly shorter.
The snakes made no attempt to strike. The male finally broke away from the female after we observed for about 10 minutes…….that’s when we left as well.

Hope this provides some insight into the yellow kraits in the NE of Thailand.

It definitely does provide some insight. Establishing that banded kraits (Bungarus fasciatus) mate at night in Udonthani in October – on 10/9/11. It also shows that barriers to sexual union might not be barriers at all. Species can cross from one habitat to another despite barriers. Sure it’s not a river, but it’s something to see that snakes disregard the net between them and find a way to mate with the obstacle between them.

If you look at the close up photo – they appear to be mating from opposite sides of the netting. Is that great, or what?

Photos all courtesy of John and Copyright 2011 John Oles.

Banded Kraits - Bungarus fasciatus - Mating in Udonthani, Thailand in early October, 2011.
Copyright 2011 John Oles.

Bungarus fasciatus snakes mating – close up. Netting of fence seems to be between them:

There is very little on Wikipedia about the breeding behavior of these snakes, I’ll post what is there and have a look around for more information to post later.

From Wikipedia for Bungarus fasciatus:

Little is known of its breeding habits. In Myanmar, a female has been dug out while incubating a clutch of 8 eggs, four of which hatched in May. Young have been recorded to measure 298 to 311mm on hatching. The snake is believed to become adult in the third year of its life, at an approximate length of 914mm

From Joachim Bullian’s “Siam-Info.de” – a great resource for snake information:

The mating season for this subspecies (Bungarus fasciatus) is in the months of March and April. About 2 months after mating, the female lays 4 to 14 eggs. The females remain with the clutch of eggs until the young animals have hatched. Contrary to pythons these snakes do not incubate the eggs but only guard them. The incubation period of the eggs amounts to between 60 and 64 days. The new born animals are between 32 and 34 centimetres long.

So, these snakes mating in October shows that there are multiple times of year these snakes are capable of mating in Thailand. Perhaps it varies by location in Thailand?

Ptyas carinata Eyecap Successfully Removed

The Ptyas carinata (keeled rat snake) I caught on the mountain last night had an eyecap that was lodged in the eye-socket and not coming out anytime soon. I’d never removed one before, but, having watched some video about it – I thought I’d give it a try.

What Are Snake Eye Caps?
Snakes have no eyelids, and the skins they shed regularly – covers the eye as well. When the snake skins shed – fall off – there is the covering for the eyes that comes off as well. When they don’t shed with the rest of the skin and get stuck over the eye – they are known as eye caps, or retained eye caps.

Snakes with mites or other infections around the eye might retain the eye caps after a shed, and this is probably what happened to my rat snake, as he had an obvious infection of some sort around the eye.

First I held the rat snake’s head with my right hand and touched the eye cap with a piece of cloth to see how she reacted. No reaction. I wanted to see – was she going to really get agitated if I tried to remove it? She didn’t. Then, using a piece of tape I rolled up into a little stick I attempted to brush against the eye cap from the nose to the neck… hoping it would come off. It did not. The snake still wasn’t agitated. I took a jeweler’s screwdriver and very gently eased it under a little ridge of the eye cap and lifted the cap slowly. The snake was still not having a bad time of it – so I kept going. Eventually it was off completely. Then she livened up because she could see how close I was to her.

Feels good have the snake better off for having seen me, not worse off.

Exterior eye-cap from Ptyas carinata
Interior

I will let this keeled rat snake go at the Thailand mountain I found him on, but in a different location. There is a place I know they are always complaining about the rats. This snake will help with that.

Will shoot some video and photos as I let her go, but it’s with the iPhone – which isn’t the best, but hopefully will give me something usable for YouTube. These keeled rat snakes in Thailand are lovely animals – I hope you get to see one sometime. They are non-venomous, and though they bite if agitated, they can also be hand-held if you know how to do it.

Are There MANY Snakes in Thailand?

I just went back and counted up how many times people in Thailand submitted a Snake ID request through the form on the right side column link.

478 times in 10 months. That’s a lot of people seeing snakes, but really is just a tiny fraction of everyone that sees snakes in Thailand. Some don’t need me to identify them, others don’t think to go find out what it was. Still others don’t see the snake clearly enough to give a good description on the form.

Out of those 478, I probably ID’ed the snake correctly in about 20% of the cases. Not because I instantly know the right one, but because I list multiple snakes – that I hope are researched by the one that submitted the Thailand snake ID request.

It’s very difficult to identify a snake based on color and size alone. Time of day helps. Where it was found – in a tree, in rafters in a house, in the fresh or salt water – all help.

You know what REALLY helps? Photos.

With a photo – we can at least nail it down to 2-3 snakes it must be, or probably is… almost always we can say whether it is dangerous or deadly or not.

So, about 50 times per month we get a form submitted. Almost 2 per day. Can you imagine how many hundreds of people in Thailand will see a snake today? Maybe even 1,000 people across this country of nearly 60 million residents and another million or so visitors here at any one time.

That’s a lot of snakes.

Still, with all of those sightings – not very many people die from snake bites. From the Malayan Pit Viper or one of the kraits – usually less than or around 10 deaths per year each. That’s not too bad. It’d be nice if it was “0” – but, the world isn’t perfect, right?

If you come to Thailand on vacation – would you see likely see a snake?

No. I think maybe 1-2% of all tourists see a snake in Thailand, staying here for a week. Just a guess, but I don’t think it’s more. Heck, it takes me a serious effort usually before I can see a snake.

Yesterday I was lucky and had a red-necked keelback go across my motorbike path. I was able to stop and grab her and transport her to a local heavy forest area where she had less chance of being struck by a speeding vehicle.

You must go looking for snakes to find them – as  a rule in Thailand and all over southeast Asia. They are not as common as birds, bugs, or bees.

Don’t fear Thailand because of snakes – you’ll probably never see one unless you go herping and looking for them specifically!

Found a New Snake – Is It Oligodon inornatus?

Here it looks just like one from the Oligodon genus. One biologist thinks that is the correct genus.

This one is interesting… I found it at the top of a small limestone mountain. It’s like a keelback, and a kukri snake. A juvenile. Green – dark green on top – solid pattern, no fluctuation. Bottom is dark grey. It’s about 1 foot long. Will get some photos and video and put them up as soon as I get the camera back from my wife!

Ok, below are pics – and I’ll get a video up on Youtube in a few…

 

Have a look at the video at Youtube (embedded below in a few minutes) and see if you can figure it out…

Gerwot from Germany said it was in the genus Oligodon. That seems right on. He showed me how to do a scale count and I got 15’s. If this is the Oligodon inornatus it might be a new snake for this area, greatly extending its range. Some lit has the range as northern Thailand and southeastern Thailand (Isaan area). Here’s a grab from the PDF referencing the snakes range, and addressing some mistakes in a printed book about snakes…

Snake Poll – Which is Thailand’s Most Common Snake?

There are some snakes that I see often – and you probably do too if you live here, or visit often and see a lot of snakes in Thailand.

I wonder which is the most common snake – there are a few that I often see. Which do you see the most?

What is Thailand's Most Common Snake?

  • Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata ornatissima) (35%, 63 Votes)
  • Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia) (16%, 30 Votes)
  • Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) (12%, 21 Votes)
  • Bronzeback Snake (Dendrelaphis pictus) (9%, 17 Votes)
  • Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) (8%, 15 Votes)
  • Red Necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) (8%, 15 Votes)
  • Copperheaded Racer (Coelognathus radiatus) (7%, 13 Votes)
  • Other? Leave in comments, I may add it to the poll (4%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 182

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Thailand Snake Note – Calling Thailand Herpetologists & Snake Enthusiasts

Oriental Whip Snake in Thailand - venomous, not deadly.

If you have an interest in the snakes of Thailand I’d love to hear from you. This site just started a few months ago, but already it is generating a lot of interest around the subject of Thailand snakes.

I have a couple of ideas in mind for creating jobs in Thailand for local Thais and 1-2 foreigners living in Thailand. The main idea I have in mind will require incorporation as a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people learn more about the snakes of the world. There are grants to chase for the subject I have in mind. Ideally I’ll be able to team up with 1-2 herpetologists in Thailand, and a number of snake enthusiasts that want to be part of this non-profit.

Having herpetologists on the team is essential if we’re going to chase grant money.

That said,  I don’t know that I’ll be able to reach herpetologists interested in the project as most have their own full-time careers to think about and don’t have much time for a start-up project.

If I can get some knowledgeable snake enthusiasts interested in the project, that can work also, because the project I’m thinking about need not be started by a non-profit agency. We can do it ourselves and ask herpetologists to review it as we finish sections of it.

I know this is making little sense to you yet, because I don’t want to share the idea with the world – for fear it will be copied.

Contact me if you’re interested in a big project that will make a difference in many people’s lives, even saving lives, and helping to educate the public – of all nations – to the dangers of, and the benefits of these amazing creatures called snakes.

Cheers!

Vern
info@thailandsnakes.com

Venomous Snake Bite Survey

What is proper way to remove a deadly snake (cobra, krait, coral snake, taipan, etc.) from your finger if it won't let go?

  • Squeeze behind jaw to open the jaw up (72%, 146 Votes)
  • Rip it off as fast as possible (9%, 19 Votes)
  • Pry the mouth open with something (7%, 15 Votes)
  • Run it underwater until it lets go (7%, 14 Votes)
  • Blow on it's face hard (4%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 203

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