Also known as mangrove viper, shore pit viper, Gray’s pit viper, purple-spotted pit viper, and shore pit viper. In past (2004-2011) 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.
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
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!
Size – Maximum about 120 centimeters. The young are very thin – like a pencil. The adults are thick – like a forearm or even a human leg.
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 – fish, frogs, 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’. This snake is primarily active at night, but I have found 2 of them during the day time. eds on fish, frogs and frog spawn.
Young – born alive without eggs. Coloration – orange and black bands. Adults are darker orange and even grey color without any orange.
Danger – I’ve had a couple of these snakes and they don’t seem to bite at all. Not saying they never do, but I think their temperament is nice and calm.
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
Species: H. buccata
Binomial name Homalopsis buccata
Classification by Linnaeus in 1758
If you’re looking for Thailand Sea Snake Info Click Here.
Here is a whip snake that was a bit of a mystery for a while, it was finally identified by an American expat snake researcher in Bangkok – Michael Cota.
This snake was found in Krabi province, and far north of where other instances of this snake have been found in 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 more brown 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. 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 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 more thin than my smallest finger.
Range: Literature has this snake occurring only in Thailand’s deep south, but, this is the second instance of one found in Krabi province – so, obviously the range includes this province as well.
Habitat: Trees and ground. I found both on the ground. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush. Recently we found one hanging out in the curve of a guardrail on a mountain in Krabi.
Active Time? Diurnal, but possibly also nocturnal. Both of mine were found during daylight hours.
Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily.
Defensive Behavior: Accurate strikers! One of the ones we’ve had didn’t bite at all. The other 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 cause swelling and pain at the bite site.
Offspring: Nothing known about this area.
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
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:
The Plumbeous Water Snake (AKA: Rice Paddy Snake) is a venomous snake, though it is not dangerous to humans.
(Page Updated: 6 September 2016)
Enhydris plumbea (Plumbeous Water Snake, and Rice Paddy Snake
Thais say: (ngoo bping)
Length: average length for these snakes is about 50cm (19 inches)
Range: The plumbeous water snake is found all over Thailand as well as nearly all of southeast Asia.
Habitat: Near or in water. Lakes, streams, rivers, puddles, marshes, any where water is.
Active Time? Diurnal – active in daylight mostly.
Food: Food is generally fish and frogs, though other opportunistic eating may take place.
Defensive Behavior: Typical s-shaped striking position. Not very mobile on land.
Venom Toxicity: Venomous. Not toxic enough venom to affect humans severely. No known cases of death due to bite from this species in the herpetological literature.
Notes: As you might have guessed, these snakes are most commonly found in the vast rice fields of Thailand. These are common snakes, we have found two of them recently – one in a small pond with many frogs. One at a resort with a stream and some shallow pools of water.
Length: average snakes are up to 50-90 cm as adults.
Range: Central and southern Thailand only
Habitat: Tentacled water snakes are found in lakes, rice fields, streams, and other shallow water that is either moving or stagnant – especially that which is murky. It is found in all three types of water environments including salt, fresh, and brackish (combined) water. This snake waits patiently on the bottom and waits for something to wander by – whereupon it seizes it in it’s mouth. Amazingly the tentacled snake can stay underwater for 30 minutes on a breath.
During the dry season in Thailand – from January to April, the Erepton tentaculatus buries it’s body in mud to stay wet and cool, with it’s head out of the moud – of course. They do need oxygen to survive.
Active Time? When night is falling it is known to be more active.
Food: Fish. To lure the prey closer to provide the opportunity for a strike these tentacled snakes use their tentacles as lures – like tiny worms. When the fish come closer they strike. When striking their eyes are retracted and they aim for where the fish will be, not where it is. This is an amazing feat. In actuality the snake is tricking the fish with a movement of it’s body – into fleeing. But, it knows exactly where it will go when it flees. A very unique snake.
Defensive Behavior: Bites when provoked, but not with normal handling.
Venom Toxicity: Weak venom that is not known to affect humans much. Not deadly. These are not biters, per se, and even when handled they are not known to bite much. The fangs are small, in the rear of the mouth, and the fangs are only partially grooved, not made for injecting large amounts of toxic venom. Their venom works well on fish they eat.
Offspring: Each year this water snake gives birth to a half to a dozen live young which are between 20 and 40 cm in length and about a pencil’s diameter in girth.
Notes: Because it spends it’s life buried in mud, or under the water looking for prey it is a rather difficult snake to catch. Recently on a herping trip in southern Thailand I believe a group of us saw one, but, when we reached in with the tongs to attempt to grab the snake, it had already darted.
These snakes are either lightly striped or have blotches. Their color is either hues of grey or brown.
Tentacled Water Snake Scientific Classification
Species: E. tentaculatum
Classified as: Erpeton tentaculatum
Classified by, Lacepede in year, 1800.
If you’re looking for Thailand Sea Snake Info Click Here.
Note: About 50% of all bites from this krait results in human death – even with the administration of antivenin (antivenom). Death is the usual result if no treatment is given. The closely related Bungarus multicinctus is ranked 3rd in the world for toxicity of venom based on some LD-50 data (terrestrial snakes). Do be careful.
(Last updated: 6 September 2016)
Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait or Blue Krait)
Thais say: Ngoo tap saming kla, or ngoo kan plong
Length: Max length about 1.6 meters.
Range: All over Thailand and much of Southeast Asia.
Notes: I’ve caught dozens of these snakes since 2006 in Thailand. They are quite distinctive from other black and white banded snakes when adult, but when hatchling or juvenile, the differences are almost negligible. Do be very cautious to not hand-hold any black and white banded snake in Thailand. The risk is too great. The head of the Blue Krait is not nearly as large as the yellow and black “Banded Krait” (B. fasciatus). This krait’s body doesn’t have the high vertebral ridge either. Be careful around these snakes, their venom is very potent.
Habitat: These snakes appear to favor flat country though I have found them on hills of 250 and 300 meters elevation. Not found higher than 1,200 m above sea level often. They prefer proximity to water, rice fields, and rice dams. To find a nest, this krait invades and takes over rat holes in the ground.
Active Time? The snake is mainly active at night and is not fond of the sunshine. They are shy and attempt to cover their head with their tail. I tend to find them active most consistently between 9 pm. and 11 pm.
Food: Other snakes – primarily, but also lizards, mice, frogs and other small animals.
Defensive Behavior: Not usually very aggressive. Shy. They don’t tend to bite unless really provoked. Still, you should never hold one. I have only seen one in a dozen of these snakes attempt to bite, and it was the result of being grabbed with tongs near the head.
Venom Toxicity: Very toxic – even stronger on the LD-50 scales than Naja kaouthia (cobras). Bungarus krait venom is neurotoxic and attacks the human nervous system, shutting it down. Coma, brain death, and suffocation due to paralysis of the muscles and nerves necessary for crucial functions like the diaphragm, and or heart, are frequent causes of death. Death results usually 12-24 hours after an envenomed bite that is not treated. Little or no pain is usually felt at the bite location.
Here’s a short overview of what happened to one victim of a bite by Bungarus candidus (black-white striped krait):
A patient bitten by Bungarus candidus (Malayan krait) developed nausea, vomiting, weakness, and myalgia 30 minutes after being bitten. One hour later, ptosis and occulomotor palsies as well as tightness of his chest were noted. Respiratory failure requiring mechanical respiration appeared 8 hours after the bite and lasted for nearly 96 hours. The two bite sites were virtually painless and resulted in slight transient erythema and edema. No specific antivenin was available, and treatment consisted of respiratory support and management of aspiration pneumonitis. Recovery was complete. (Source: Department of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University Hospital and the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute of the Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok, Thailand)
Handling: The banded and Malayan blue kraits are not known to bite during the daytime. That doesn’t mean they don’t, it just means they don’t do it commonly. At night these snakes bite rather easily, as evidenced by the numerous bites that occur at night to people usually laying down to sleep on the floor. Handholding the kraits for any reason seems rather absurd to me, yet snake-handlers across the globe do it regularly. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small. After catching many of these snakes in the wild – I’ve seen them bite the snake tongs just once.
Antivenin | Antivenom: There is a specific krait antivenin that is given for Malayan Krait bites. If you don’t have access to that antivenin you can ask the hospital if they have Tiger Snake antivenin – which can be used as a substitute for krait antivenin and works well.
Offspring: Lays 4-10 eggs. Juveniles are 30 cm long at birth. Hatching occurs in June-July in Thailand.
Species: B. candidus
(Classified as Bungarus candidus)
Very Recent Malayan Krait Find in Rainforest (5/19/16):
Malayan Krait Attempting to Prey Upon Sunbeam Snake (and fails!)
The monocled cobra is one of Thailand’s most deadly snakes – with highly toxic (neurotoxic + cytotoxic) venom. One bite on your toe from one that jumps out from under your outdoor refrigerator can kill you. I heard the story direct from a woman which had this happen to her husband. Monocled Cobras are nearly everywhere across Thailand. I had a friend that found them in his kitchen often. I’ve seen them crossing the road (see video below), and there was a family of these cobras living under the office of my wife’s workplace – with many 18″ baby cobras.
I just heard about Grant Thompson, an 18-year-old man in Austin, Texas who was bitten on the wrist by a monocled cobra and died of cardiac arrest. Authorities are looking for the snake. Tips that might catch the snake 1. If cool in the mornings, the snake might be found in bushes sunning itself. These cobras prefer hot weather over 80°F. 2. They are most active during daytime, but can move at night. 3. N kaouthia will eat eggs, mice, rats, if no other snakes are to be found. They prefer snakes, but I don’t know what Grant fed his snake. It might be unable to stalk prey and feed itself and die within a month.
Thais respect (fear) this snake because many have friends or relatives that have been envenomated (bitten and venom injected) by this snake. They even make Buddhist amulets with cobra snake images.
I’ve worked with two hatchling monocled cobras, and even at 12-15 inches – they are fierce. One snake handler described monocled cobras as “spastic” – and I have to agree.
If you are bitten by any cobra – get to the hospital as fast as you can. Monocled cobra venom is on par or even more toxic than some of the Thailand kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a small one, a nick, or a scrape, get to the hospital immediately. All it takes is a drop of venom to hit your blood stream for biological chaos to ensue.
Appearance: Monocled cobras are easily identified by looking at the back of the hood – there is a monocle – or eye type shape there. They are light brown to dark grey to solid black. Most are very close to black.
Thais say: Ngoo how hom, Ngoo how mo (long o sound)
Length: Typical maximum length about 1.5 meters. Recently I saw one in a mangrove forest that was 2 meters long, a giant. They can get up to 2.2 meters – about 7.5 feet long.
Range: All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.
Notes: Neuro toxic venom affecting nerves, brain, and causing death very quickly without treatment. They are very fast strikers. The baby monocled cobras are every bit as deadly. Please be CAREFUL!
Recently a friend and I found a 1.5 meter long N. kaouthia on a dirt road near where we were herping. It was nearly paralyzed but gaped its mouth when touched on the head with a snake hook. The body didn’t move. We think it was just bitten by either a krait, or a King Cobra – both of which prey on this species. There was one visible bite mark on the side of the body and nothing else. I’m guessing King Cobra.
Habitat: Both flat and hilly regions. I’ve seen them on hills, but usually near people – under houses and in places rats and frogs are likely to be found. I’ve seen them most often in residential areas bordering forest, or near the ocean. In the mornings they can be in trees and bushes – trying to get some sun to warm up. They love to hide under leaves, wood, anything really. Lifespan is around 30 years.
Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – active by day, but I have seen a number of them still active at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve seen about a dozen active at night – the rest were active during daytime.
Food: Rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, other snakes.
Defensive Behavior: Lift head off ground and flatten out neck. The hood flares quite wide compared to the width of the body. When comparing the monocled cobra and the king cobra, the monocled cobras have a hood flare that is more extreme in relation to the width of their body and heads. They can hiss when they strike.
Monocled cobras are very active and ready to strike especially as the temperature climbs past 35°C (about 95°F). Do be very careful with them during this temperature range because they are very easily agitated and strike much more often.
Offspring: Lays 25-40 eggs. Young are fully prepared to envenomate as they hatch. Mating takes place after the rainy season. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. Eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 to 12 inches at birth.
Thailand has approximately 60 snake species that are considered venomous and potentially dangerous to human beings. Below are photos, videos, and links to more information on some of the most common snakes that fit this description.
Calloselasma rhodostoma. Malayan Pit Viper.
Very dangerous. Potentially deadly. This snake is active at night (nocturnal) and during dawn and dusk (crepuscular) and during rainy or very overcast weather. I have found them in the lowlands at sea level, and as high as 500 meters here in Thailand.
The following is a video showing the color variations for the Malayan pit viper. These are all from Southern Thailand, so depending where you are in the country, yours may look similar or slightly different. The very triangle head shape and triangle pattern on the top back will not change.
1 Video – Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) Color Variations:
Naja kaouthia. Monocled Cobra.
Very dangerous and potentially deadly. This snake is most active during the daytime, but is also sometimes found to be active at night. During some of the hottest days they can be seen regularly crossing the roads. Around 3 pm. seems to be a very active time for them.
2. Jackie, a Burmese National, Catching a Monocled Cobra in a Local’s Yard:
3. Tom (Dtom, Dtammy) After Bitten in Thigh by Monocled Cobra:
Rhabdophis subminiatus. Red-necked Keelback.
This colorful snake was often kept as a pet and hand-held before it was realized they pack a deadly bite. Their venom is as strong as a banded krait on the LD scale. They are active during daylight hours and are commonly found across Thailand.
Keep in mind, the smaller the snake, generally the more quickly it can strike.
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: 6 September 2016)
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.
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. 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 blood stream 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
Species: B. fasciatus
Binomial name Bungarus fasciatus
Classified by Schneider in year 1801
Photo of Two Adult Banded Kraits:
Video of Jackie with Banded Krait from Nakhon Si Thammarat, Southern Thailand:
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