Category Archives: Thailand Snake Notes

Common Thailand Snakes | 2

[Last Updated: 15 August 2019]

More 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. On this page is a selection of common (frequently found) snakes in Thailand. If you want a FREE EBOOK of COMMON THAILAND SNAKES in PDF format – CLICK HERE.

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Non-Venomous and Mildly Venomous and Harmless Snakes

Green Cat Snake - Boiga cyanea. Harmless. Southern Thailand
Green Cat Snake – Boiga cyanea. Harmless and somewhat common in some areas. Eat geckos, birds, bird eggs at night when they are active. Length to over 2 meters.

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. Green vipers typically have brown colored tails. This snake has a solid green tail. The Green Cat Snake shown in the photo is harmless, and didn’t even try to bite as I interacted with it on my porch in Southern Thailand around midnight.


Juvenile Indo-Chinese rat snake from Thailand - common and harmless.
Indo-Chinese rat snake (Ptyas korros) juvenile. Harmless. When adult these snakes are either brown, grey (silver), or black.

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (Ptyas korros)

One rat snake, the Indo-Chinese Rat Snake, is especially common, but the adult does 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. There is a photo of the monocled cobra below.

Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses from Southeast Asia.
A black mamba bite. Monocled and King cobra bites/deaths. Viper bites, coral bites, many VERY close calls. Should be in every herper’s bag.

Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses!

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Thailand Snake - Red Tailed Racer, Gonyosoma oxycephalum
Found often in southern Thailand – the Red Tailed Racer, Gonyosoma oxycephalum. Harmless, but of course they do bite.

Red-tailed Racer (Gonyosoma oxycephalum)

This is a fairly large rat snake reaching around 2.1 meters 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!

If you haven’t yet read this book about Dr. Joe Slowinski – biologist bitten by a many-banded krait in Burma in 2001 – you really should. It’s an excellent read, and ALL SNAKE HOBBYISTS SHOULD READ IT.


Radiated Rat Snake - Copperhead Racer
Radiated Rat Snake – Coelognathus radiata. Harmless, but frequent biters when a person gets too close.

Radiated Rat Snake (Coelognathus radiata)

Copper-headed Racer  – These are very common and may even qualify as one of the most commonly seen snakes in Thailand. Non-venomous and not dangerous, except they are big biters. Many small teeth. A bite can hurt and get infected because the teeth easily break off inside the skin. Color hue ranges from yellow to brown, There is another rat snake that looks very similar – the “Malayan Racer” which is very dark brown with a slightly different pattern (Coelognathus flavolineatus).


Yellow Spotted Keelback from Southern Thailand
Keelback snake from the Xenochrophis genus.

Keelback Snakes (Oligodon / Rhabdophis / Xenochrophis genera)

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 there are a couple in the “Rhabdophis” genus that are to be considered dangerous and potentially capable of a deadly bite. We have one featured in the venomous section below (Rhabdophis subminiatus).


Golden Tree Snake - Chrysopelea ornata. Southern Thailand
Golden Tree Snake – Chrysopelea ornata. Common, harmless, but mildly venomous, and can kill or stun geckos and lizards.

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Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata)

A very common tree snake across Thailand, and their favorite food appears to be Tokay Geckos (Gekko gecko), 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 and very fast climbers! Common in homes, garages, and other structures.


Thailand Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis) Snake Strikes
Bronzeback snakes have a number of different patterns, but they are all long, thin, and generally brown and yellow until they flare the lateral sides and show other patterns and colors. Harmless for humans. Dendrelaphis genus.

Bronzeback Snakes (Dendrelaphis genus)

also incredibly adept and fast 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. This snake bites quickly – as you might guess from the photo. To be honest, I’m holding the tail so I can get a good photo before it quickly disappears. Mildly venomous colubrids, and not dangerous to humans. There are many species of this snake, all look vaguely similar.


Oriental Whip Snake - Southern Thailand
Oriental Whip Snake; Green Whip Snake. Common mildly-venomous snake which cannot harm humans. Ultra thin and very long snakes to around 2 meters. Ahaetulla prasina.

Oriental Whip Snakes (Ahaetulla prasina and Ahaetulla mycterizans)

Very common snakes, and usually found in trees during the day (active) or night (sleeping), but I have found many whip snakes on the ground as they hunted lizards and frogs. The bright fluorescent green in this snake is awesome, isn’t it? These snakes have a mild venom, but again, no serious results of envenomation have occurred in humans. Other color variations: yellow, very light green with much more white (A. mycterizans), grey, brown. There is also a speckle-headed whip snake which isn’t found very often.


Common Venomous and Deadly Snakes

Malayan Pit Viper - Southern Thailand Venomous and Deadly Snake
Malayan Pit Viper. Very toxic venom destroys tissue of all kinds. Potentially fatal bites, but if you reach a hospital quickly – you will likely be fine. Calloselasma rhodostoma.

Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma)

A very dangerous pit viper with strong cytotoxic venom which is potentially deadly. This common brown pit viper is the cause of death for more people in Thailand than any other snake. It bites quickly and is lazy to get out of the way if you’re walking toward it, usually, it just lays still. Always found at ground level, and often on top of, or just under leaves. Maximum length – about 1 meter long.


Monocled Cobras (Naja kaouthia)

Monocled Cobra - adult. Potentially deadly bites, necrotoxic and neurotoxic venom makes this snake especially dangerous. One of Thailand's most dangerous snakes.
Monocled cobra – deadly and common across most of Thailand. These are black or brown colored snakes which flatten the neck into a hood. Their venom is very strong. Don’t try to catch or kill this cobra by yourself. Some cobras can spray venom 2-3 meters into your eyes.

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, and then visit the hospital to ensure they are properly cleaned. Photo above (click to enlarge) is of the Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia)


Red-necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus)

Red Neck Keelback Snake - Rhabdophis subminiatus in Southern Thailand
Red-necked keelbacks prefer low vegetation around water. Though they are not big biters, and flee at every opportunity, they have a potentially deadly bite. Rhabdophis subminiatus.
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, even death.

Brightly colored and very common snakes that become more brightly patterned 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. This is one of the few snakes which is venomous and poisonous. There is a poison secreted in dorsal (top) side of the neck area near the head which can be dangerous to pets or people licking them. You know, in case you ever got the urge. In some cases, the Red-necked Keelback can spray the poison from the neck in a very fine mist.


Malayan Krait (Bungarus candidus)

Malayan Krait - Bungarus candidus, from Southern Thailand. Common, dangerous, deadly, and size is usually about 1 meter long.
Adult Malayan (Blue) Krait from Thailand. These are common across much of the country, and have a very potent neurotoxic venom. Contact with this krait should be avoided. Bungarus candidus.

Malayan Krait. Kraits are all venomous and potentially deadly. They are active by night for the most part, though I have seen Red-Headed Kraits (Bungarus flaviceps) active during daylight twice. The Banded Krait and the Malayan or “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.


Small-spotted Coral (Calliophis maculiceps)

Small-spotted coral snake from Southern Thailand, Krabi province. (Calliophis maculiceps)
Dangerous and potentially deadly, this small snake looks harmless enough. The Small-spotted Coral Snake (Calliophis maculiceps). ©Copyright 2010 Vern Lovic.

Small-spotted Coral. There is one coral snake worth mentioning, not because it’s all that common, but because it tends to be around the gardens – even in potted plants. This is the “Small-spotted Coral Snake.” It is very small – around 35 cm as an adult, and it looks harmless enough. It should be considered dangerous – and capable of potentially deadly bites.

Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses from Southeast Asia.
Stories of close calls…

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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.

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May 2019 – Gearing Up for Thailand Snake Field Trips (Herping)

It is May and the snakes are hatching all over the country. Where I live here in Southern Thailand we have some of the best herping in the country, and the world. I have to be reminded of that occasionally because I start to take it for granted sometimes.

I’ve been seeing hatchling and very juvenile, even neonate, C. rhodostoma and C. radiata on the roads fairly often. Those are the two I usually see as the snake herping season begins in Thailand. I’ve seen my usual share of rat snakes – P. korros primarily, and everywhere, and just one big P. carinatus at the top of a small mountain on top of a pile of fallen branches.

Frogs are out in full-force already. We’ve had one really good rain since the rainy season began back on Thai New Years (early May), and a number of smaller, spotty rains. They all help to get the frogs reproducing.

The hills are alive with the sound of Calotes emma scampering around the mostly dry leaves in the rainforest. I have definitely seen more this year than any year previously at this time. I’m taking that as a good sign. Flying lizards too. They seem to be everywhere I look, as abundant as house geckos on the outside of our home at night.

I spied one big tokay at head level and about one foot from my face stuck to a wall at the top of a Buddhist temple shrine on a mountain. It was kind enough to stick around while I studied its fascinating pattern. If you’ve never really looked intently at it – it’s mesmerizing!

This year I’ve decided to really expand my focus to include other wildlife that I didn’t pay much attention to – Tokays and other geckos, flying lizards – Draco, frogs, centipedes, scorpions, tarantulas, and bugs – insects of all kinds. Really opening it up, right? I guess I I get a bit bored mid- and late-season while just focusing on snakes. I tend to catch the same species’ over and over and it does get monotonous at times. If I had some more fauna to focus on, I’d be less bored. So this will be a new beginning for me.

So, needless to state it, but I’m wildly optimistic about this 2015 Reptile and Amphibian Herping Season. I’ve got a couple of field trips planned now. Sisaket in the Northeast of Thailand is my next stop. I even have to make a trip out to Laos, so I’ll take a look around while I’m out there and see if anything jumps out at me. Malaysia is on the calendar – Langkawi, and possibly Penang.

I’ll be in Isaan next, so, if you’re in Ubon, Sisaket, Savannakhet, or Mukdahan and know where the snakes are – let me know!

Need a Snake Removed in Thailand? Call These Numbers.

There are a number of contacts you can call in Thailand if you need to have a snake removed from your home, yard, vehicle, whatever it is. The first call would probably go to the snake park guys in your area. They are happy to come and get whatever type of snake you have. Reasons are many, but primarily because the king cobras, monocled cobras, and kraits they keep for the shows eat a snake once a week. They are snake eaters and eat a lot.

(Page Updated: 17 September 2016)

Here are some phone numbers you can call for Thailand snake removal:

Bangkok, call Mr. Sompop Sridaranop at 089-0438455.

Chalong, Rawai, Kata, Karon Phuket, call 076-283346.

Chiang Mai’s Mae Sai Valley Snake Farm is about 15 km north of Chiang Mai. If they don’t want to come all that way to your home, they will know who to call instead: 053-860719.

Koh Phangan, call Stefan’s Rescue Service at 080-046-8457.

Koh Samui, call Samui Snake Rescue / Removal, Phil at 089-663-5085.

Krabi Town, call 090.157.8804 (English). We relocate and release all snakes in suitable habitat. We don’t trade snakes, sell them, skin them, pull their gall bladders out, or cut their heads off to drip blood on your newborn infant’s head. If nobody answers, call the emergency staff using 1669.

Phuket anywhere – call Ruamjai Kupai Foundation, 076-238364.

Phuket Kathu, Thalang, call the Wisarut Jaiton Kusoldharm Rescue Foundation: 076-246301 or 076-246599.

 

Thailand Snake Note – Where Are Snakes in Thailand?

Where are snakes located in Thailand?

The easy answer is just about everywhere.

Seriously, snakes in Thailand are all over the country from north to south, east to west. They are in the high elevation areas – mountains and hills, as well as the low elevation areas, and even inside caves (Ridley Racers). Snakes are as likely to be in the garbage area of your home as they are in a field.

Snakes are in the trees – vipers and tree snakes, cobras – including King Cobras, Mangrove Snakes, Oriental Whip Snakes are all in trees and bushes and like to be off the ground sometimes.

Snakes are in the water – though there aren’t many venomous types in the water, there is the sea krait and keelbacks love the water too.

Snakes are on the ground – the Malayan Pit Vipers and the Russell’s Viper are on the ground usually.

Snakes are in the AIR – This is kind of an exaggeration of course, but there are tree snakes that can jump from tree to tree or tree to ground, and cover long distances – as in tens of meters – or even hundreds of feet if they jump from a high enough place.

Snakes come into houses, apartments, and tents. Do be careful not to leave your doors or windows open without screens – especially at night.

Thailand Snake Stories

Not a new ebook, sorry to say, but just going back and forth with a guy that worked in Thailand a long time ago and wanted to share a couple stories with me. I shared one back. Thought I’d share it with you all. Thanks to Ray for letting me post his emails.

His 1st email to me:

I am not sure this is the place I should be posting this past experience but I wanted to share the past in Thailand with someone. I was in the military from 1971 to 1972 in Thailand and stayed until 1975 as a civilian contractor. I worked on top of Green Hill national park from 1973 to 1974. We would travel 1 hour up to work and 1 hour down every day after a 12 hour shift. We saw many things during our trips to work. Elephants, tigers, wild chickens (fun to catch) and many many snakes. Previously I was at Thakli for over a year and the road kill of snakes at the beginning of the rainy season was common place. Cobras and rock pythons were the largest and flatest. BUT… in the national park, Khao Yai, Khao Keo the books and the statistics did not apply.

One morning on the way to work up the hill the driver slammed on the breaks. What we saw was a Banded Krait crossing the road. My boss said “yell when its tail is at the center line” I did and immediately looked to the left and its head was about a foot past the asphalt. Now this snake was moving really slow with very little bend in its body. Small head and tail with a body that is more of a triangle in the mid portion. And it was FAT. O.K. we were impressed….off to work.

On the way home that evening John, my boss had Lek stop the car at the same point we saw the snake that morning. (understand, I am young and stupid then) I get out of the car and lay down on the road where the snake crossed. I put my toes on the center line of the road..stretched out my arms…and my fingers just touched the edge of the asphaslt. I was and am 5’4″ tall. Do the math and this Banded Krait was over 6 foot long. From what I have read… they only get a little over a meter long.

I know what I saw in a jungle that was basically indisturbed for decades, if not century’s.

My point is that somewhere in this world there are sitll very dangerous animals and creatures that we may never see. And the books are only a guideline.

Thanks for letting me share.

Ray

My response:

Hi Ray,

Thanks for the story. Enjoyed it!

Banded kraits do, occasionally reach 2 meters. I have seen one almost that big, but not quite. Here is my Banded krait page with what I know about them.

http://www.thailandsnakes.com/venomous/banded-krait-venomous-deadly/

You are right, and I’m with you on the fact that what the books say, what the websites say, and what the self-appointed experts say, is just what people have experienced in the past. Two days ago on a hike up a mountain, I found a new species of snake. It’s probably in the keelback family, but there is no such snake classified up to this point in time. I found another new snake near the top of a mountain about 2 years ago too. Nobody had EVER recorded it. So, I’m just one person that found 2 new snakes in the course of looking in Thailand sporadically. There must be dozens more out there that we don’t know about. That’s a cool thought.

Besides that, the general facts in most books are off. What snakes eat… whether diurnal or nocturnal, whether they mate during these months, or others… there is QUITE a bit that is off in the literature. I use books and scientific studies as a guideline, but I don’t believe much of it to be undisputed fact.

Now, here’s a story for you…

It was almost 2 years ago. I took my motorbike up a mountain that few people ever travel up. It was middle of day, about 11:30 AM. I was looking for snakes on the road, crossing the road, and knew I had half a chance to find one, but didn’t really expect to. I just had some time and decided to give it a shot.

I stopped the bike and parked it. I walked up the road, then back… then turned around where I’d just walked from. About 3-4 meters from me was the tail of a snake disappearing into the dense brush on the side of the road. The tail covered the entire lane of the street – same side as me. My brain told me over and over that my eyes were lying to me, and it refused to process the information. What I was looking at was the largest King Cobra tail I’d ever seen… and I’d seen over 100 adult king cobras at the snake farm where I’m a regular, going every couple days in Krabi.

The reason my brain wouldn’t work, is that the tail DWARFED the largest 5.5 meter king cobra tail I’d ever seen. It was double the size of it. It was almost like a dinosaur was disappearing into the brush. My breathing stopped – i literally couldn’t breath because it all was just too much to grasp. There was no way in hell I could have gone into the rubber tree plantation to look for the snake, I was in shock. I did, after a couple minutes of standing there stunned, walk over to the bushes and give a cursory glance in to see if it was visible. That was the extent of it. I was dumbfounded how a king cobra could be that large. Oh, the biggest king cobra ever was 19 feet and some inches, found in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, also in the south of Thailand.

The reason it was so big, is I think, because that mountain is where the guys that catch snakes for the city of krabi- let their snakes go. Rat snakes, cobras, king cobras, kraits, all of them. All of them are food for big king cobras. This king had been feasting for years on easy meals there, and nobody had caught it yet.

When I told king cobra expert, Luke Yeoman’s in the UK, he was as excited as I was. He trusted my judgement. This was a world record king that would have SMASHED the record. He made plans to come over and we were going to track it down using motion-activated cameras and traps. Luke never made the trip because 2 months before he was due to come to Thailand he was bitten on the arm by one of his big king cobras at home in the UK and died within minutes. He’d had a heart attack after the bite, killing him near instantly.

So, yeah, you made a good point… we don’t know what is in the jungles. We haven’t found all of what is there yet. And another thing I learned was to definitely have a camera with me ready to shoot at a moment’s notice – ALWAYS!

You OK with me turning your email and mine into a post for ThailandSnakes.com?

Cheers,

Vern L.

His 2nd email to me:

Vern,

No problem posting anything I share. You have my mind in a rewind mode talking about Cobras.
Same place, Khao yai Thailand , national park, 1973-74. Stopped on the way to work to let the Elephants wake up and proceed up the mountain. Elephant grass to my left. Sitting in the front seat of a Toyota HiAce. Looked left and I was eye level with a Cobra. I have no knowledge what type but I know really BIG when I see it. As stated before, I was young and stupid so I started to move my head back an forth and my new friend followed my every move. I never thought about it for years until I read your email. One more thing about snake size. When I was at Thakli from 1971 to early 1972 we had an incident with one of the drivers that nearly got him fired…until WE appologized for not believing him.

On two occassions just after the New Year Holidays he was late picking up the day shift and claimed he could not pass the road down the hill from the Tropo site because there was a big snake laying accross the road and he did every thing to get it to move (as long as he didn’t have to get out of the truck). We really thought he just over slept in the truck and was full of BS. Now keep in mind there was a tall tail about a giant snake at the Tropo Hill in Thakli Thailand.

Well, just before he pulled another “big Snake and I am late” he got smart and drove back up to the Tropo site, got really indignant (sp) with me and told me to get in the van. …….Bottome line..the Rock Python was stretched completely accross the asphalt road. We could not see his head or tail….and I was not going to get close enough to push him with even a really LONG stick. We threw rocks at it for nearly 5 minutes before it finally moved…very slowly off the road.

I did note that the middle of the snake was at least 10 to 12 inches with a big bulge of about 15 inches past the half way point. I also remember the driver saying the big snakes like the warm asphalt after sunset.

Needless to say, the day shift didn’t want to believe me either until I threatened to get physical. Of course we all got our little Browning cameras ready for the next time….that never came.

Good chatting with you.

Ray

Thailand Snakes from December to March?

The dry months in Thailand are not usually productive times for herping, or snake expeditions of any sort. It’s just too hot and rain too scarce.

What snakes might you find in Thailand between the months of December through March? Not many, but there are still some snakes out there if you know where to look for them.

So far in December through February I’ve mostly seen rat snakes. Keeled rat snakes, Copperheaded racers (rat snakes), Red-tailed racers, and Indo-Chinese Rat Snakes. During the day these are some of the most common snakes that can be found in thailand. I have seen very little roadkill snakes – which means that there just aren’t the numbers roaming around, as there are during the wet months when frogs are abundant.

During the day I’ve also seen the Golden Tree Snake, and some Monocled Cobras. By the way, if you come across a cobra during this very hot time – do not mess with it. They tend to be so much more angry and fast when the weather is hot. They get aggravated quickly.

During the night I have found a couple of Puff-faced Water Snakes (Homalopsis buccata) as well as a nice 3-4 meter long python, some Mangrove Cat Snakes, and a Red-tailed Pipe Snake. Night time seems to be the right time, as it is cooler and many snakes go in search of water to rehydrate during this, the hottest time of the year (Feb-May).

I have not been able to find any of the Mangrove Pit Vipers lately in the usual spots. I wonder if they go somewhere else during the hot period, or if they maybe hide away higher up in the trees or in hollow logs to sort of hibernate a bit.

How about you, seen any snakes lately?

Steps to Bagging a Small (< 2m) Venomous Snake

I just got a Facebook message from a friend that was out finding snakes last night in Taiwan. He asked how I go about bagging dangerous snakes when I’m alone. I gave him this message:

Good question… I usually do this:

1. Grab the snake anywhere – usually just before mid body, I leave the tongs tight enough that it can just move forward in them a little bit at a time.

2. I move quickly to a wide open grass or dirt spot if one is available.

3. I open the snake bag with left hand and put part on the ground and lift up the top of the bag to open it up. I kind of point the snake towards it. Sometimes it goes right in. If not, sometimes I grab a handful of leaves and put those just on the inside of the bag to make it look more natural – sometimes the snake goes right in then.

4. If he isn’t in yet, I re-grab at the neck – firmly with the tongs and stick his head the whole way to the bottom of the bag. I then try to get his tail in.

5. Once in I seal the bag around the tong handle and let the snake go with the tongs – tongs still in bag. I move tongs up to top of bag and locate snake’s head. I twist the bag to seal off top of bag before removing tongs and tying off the bag.

Hope that helps! It is always a scary feeling to be doing it on your own…

It isn’t ideal to be out looking for deadly snakes at night on your own, but I find myself in that situation quite often here in Southern Thailand. I don’t have one friend that wants to go with me – imagine that!

I take a lot of time to bag the snake, being exceptionally careful when it is a monocled cobra, krait, or something else with extremely toxic venom. I am not in any hurry, and I think if I try to go fast I’m going to make a mistake that could cause me a bite. It might take me 10 minutes or even more, to bag a snake by myself that is giving me difficulty. Take your time, and above all – be absolutely sure where the head is and where it could get to fast if it decided to strike.

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

How Common Are Snakes in Thailand?

I get a lot of comments at my Youtube videos – people asking whether snakes are all over Thailand. They’re worried that they are going to be seeing snakes at every turn.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In most cases, anyway. There are some people that write me on this site for Snake Identification – multiple times in one year. They do see a lot of snakes. But, nobody has ever sent me more than 6 requests in a year. That means an average of seeing one snake every 2 months. That really is the max. I think if you are not actively looking for Thailand snakes – you will not find them, and they will not find you. Sure you’ll see a snake every year, if you are outside much. If not – you probably won’t. You can probably go for 10 years without seeing ANY snake if you’re not out in the forest, at the waterfalls, at the river, ocean, etc.

Snakes in Thailand are common – but, not commonly seen. You probably won’t see more than 1-2 per year. They almost definitely will not bite you if you do see them. Even if one bites you – it probably won’t be deadly. It probably won’t cause anything more than some redness and slight pain.

I think there are under 20 land-based snakes in Thailand that are deadly. No, I didn’t count – so feel free to correct me.

That’s roughly 10% of all snakes – are deadly.

I think it’s regularly under 20 people that die each year (official stats anyway) from snake bite over the past few years. Some don’t go to the hospital – preferring to rely on traditional medicine or blind luck – and death results.

Here is some information (though dated) about deaths by snakebite in Thailand:

Thailand – between 1985 and 1989, the number of reported snake bite cases increased from 3,377 to 6,038 per year, reflecting increased diligence in reporting rather than a true increase in snake bites; the number of deaths ranged from 81 to 183 (average 141) per year. In 1991 there were 1,469 reported bites with five deaths, in 1992, 6,733 bites with 19 deaths and, in 1994, 8,486 bites with eight deaths. Deaths reported in hospital returns were only 11% of the number recorded by the Public Health Authorities. In a national survey of dead snakes brought to hospital by the people they had bitten, 70% of the snakes were venomous species, the most commonly brought species being Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) 38%, white-lipped green pit viper (Trimeresurus albolabris) 27%, Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii siamensis) 14%, Indo-Chinese spitting cobra (Naja siamensis) 10% and monocellate cobra (N kaouthia) 7%. In an analysis of 46 fatal cases in which the snake had been reliably identified, Malayan kraits (Bungarus candidus) and Malayan pit vipers were each responsible for 13 cases, monocellate cobras for 12 and Russell’s vipers for seven deaths.

So, in summary, Thailand snakes are common – but, you’ll have to really search hard to find them on a regular basis. They will not find you too often either.

Ptyas Carinatus – Keeled Rat Snake

Ptyas carinatus - Keeled Rat Snake, a non-venomous snake in Thailand.

These are great snakes. They get big. This one is 2.75m. This is another one that hasn’t calmed down since being caught. They are rat snakes, so that’s what they prefer. Unfortunately we don’t see many rats around this area so I couldn’t catch one to feed it to him if I wanted to. If I find a pet store I’ll buy a couple rats and see if he’s hungry. Unfortunately these snakes die quickly after being caught – so it will probably become dinner for one of the big king cobras – if they’ll eat it.

There are some color variations in these snakes. Here’s a Ptyas carinatus I caught that was much more green.