Category Archives: Venomous

Tentacled Water Snake – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Erpeton tentaculum (Tentacle Snake, Fishing Snake)

[Page Updated: 28 November 2019]

Thais say: (ngoo kra deng)

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 its body in mud to stay wet and cool, with its 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 its 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

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Homalopsinae
Genus: Erpeton
Species: E. tentaculatum

Classified as: Erpeton tentaculatum

Classified by, Lacepede in year, 1800.

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Malayan Krait – Blue Krait | Bungarus candidus | Highly Toxic Venom

Malayan Krait (Blue Krait) from Thailand. Bungarus candidus. Common, dangerous, deadly, and size is usually about 1 meter long.
Adult Malayan Krait (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.

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 the toxicity of venom based on some LD-50 data (terrestrial snakes). Do be careful.

[Last updated: 24 February 2020]

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 scores 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 what I would consider aggressive or strongly defensive. 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. After envenomation approximately 50% of bite victims will succumb to the effects of the venom, dying usually from respiration stopping when the diaphragm stops.

White and black Malaysian banded krait. Very dangerous. Very toxic venom to humans.
Bungarus candidus. Malayan Krait, or Blue Krait. Highly toxic and potentially deadly venom. White/black. Scroll down for 1 more photo.

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.

Classification:

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

(Classified as Bungarus candidus by Linnaeus in 1758.)

Exceptionally venomous neurotoxic venomous snake in Thailand.
Notice the thickness of the bands on this deadly Krait… Wolf snakes have similar coloring and style of bands, but the bands are much thinner. Wolf Snakes are harmless.

Very Recent Malayan Krait Find in Rainforest (5/19/16):

Malayan Krait Attempting to Prey Upon Sunbeam Snake (and fails!)

Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses from Southeast Asia.
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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

Monocled Cobras – Venomous – Very Deadly

Monocled cobra siblings. Deadly venomous snakes - Naja kaouthia - Thailand
Naja Kaouthia – Venomous – VERY dangerous and very common Thailand snake.

[Last Updated: 28 November 2019]

Naja kaouthia – Monocled Cobra

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 the 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.

Monocled Cobra - Naja kaouthia release in Southern Thailand.
Releasing a monocled cobra at a mountain location after it was found in a populated area of a village in Thailand. Screengrab from one of my videos. ©2015 ThailandSnakes.com.

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 bloodstream 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 of 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: Neurotoxic 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. The lifespan is around 30 years.

Deadly venomous Thailand monocled cobra (naja kaouthia) in strike pose.

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 the daytime.

Food: Rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, other snakes.

Defensive Behavior: Lift head off the ground and flattens out the 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.

Monocled cobra skull showing dentition, fangs, jaw, cranium.
Skull from adult Monocled Cobra shows medium length, strong fangs. Photo from Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic, deadly. Even a small bite can kill you. See “neurotoxic and necrotoxic / cytotoxic venoms” (link).

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. The eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 to 12 inches at birth.

Monocled Cobra Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Naja
Species: Naja kaouthia

Classified by: Lesson, 1841

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Monocled Cobra video – My Two Recent Baby Monocled Cobras:

Monocled Cobra Rescue at House in Krabi, Thailand:

Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses from Southeast Asia.

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.

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Common Thailand Venomous Snakes – Photos, Videos, Links

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Thailand’s 3 Very Common Venomous Snakes

 (Last Updated: 8 May 2017)
 

Thailand has approximately 60 snake species that are considered venomous and potentially dangerous to human beings. Thirty of them are on land, and deadly. 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.

Info Sheet – Malayan Pit Viper (click)

Malayan pit viper with eggs
Calloselasma rhodostoma (Malayan Pit Viper) with eggs.
Small Malayan pit viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) with a red tint in a plastic bottle for relocation.
Small Malayan Pit Viper in water bottle.
Adult fully grown Malayan pit viper from Southern Thailand. (Calloselasma rhodostoma)

The following is a video showing the color variations for the Malayan pit viper. These are all from Southern Thailand, so depending on 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.

Info Sheet – Monocled Cobras (click)

A small (juvenile) monocled cobra from Krabi province in Thailand's south. This is a potentially deadly snake that should be treated with great care and respect. Naja kaouthia.
Juvenile Monocled Cobra – quite deadly when small too.
Thailand monocled cobra baby on the road in Siam. Naja kaouthia.

3 Videos of the Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia):

1. Hatchling Monocled Cobras:

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.

Info Sheet – Red-necked Keelback (click)

Red necked keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) is now classified as a deadly venomous snake.
Red Necked keelback – do not keep as a pet – can cause serious kidney damage.
Red Necked Keelback Snake, venomous, Thailand and southeast Asia.
A beautiful snake, usually under 1 meter, not very aggressive, but potentially capable of deadly bites.

1 Video – Red-necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) Crossing the Road:

Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses from Southeast Asia.

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.

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Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps – Deadly

Deadly and Beautiful, the red-headed krait is one of the rare and very venomous elapids living in Thailand's rainforests. This is a closeup photo at 3 a.m. as we found one in Trang, Thailand.
Deadly and Beautiful, the red-headed krait is one of the rare and very venomous elapids living in Thailand’s rainforests. ©2011 ThailandSnakes.com.

[Last update: 28 November 2019]

Red Headed Krait (Bungarus flaviceps)

Thais say: Ngoo sam lee-um hoo-uh si dang

Length: These kraits grow to about 2 meters long, though most adults found are shorter.

Appearance: Somewhat pronounced vertebral ridge, which differentiates from the Malayan Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivurgata). Body is black or dark grey, the head and tail are bright red or orange. The tail on the venter is also the same color. The rest of the venter is creme to white-colored. The head is more distinct from the neck than C. bivirgata. Dorsal scale count: 13-13-13.

Range: In Thailand, the Red-headed Krait is only found in the southern Thailand provinces from Ratchaburi and southward. Across the globe, they are most heavily concentrated in Malaysia, Borneo, and a couple of other places. Recently I found a large 1.9-meter specimen in the rainforest in the Trang province. I have also found them in Surat Thani, and Krabi provinces.

Habitat: Lowlands and hilly rainforest type habitat. The last four of these snakes I saw were all found at less than 200 meters elevation.

Active Time? Probably active both at night and day. Three of four of these snakes in our local area were found during the daylight.

Food: Some say the red-headed kraits eat more frogs, lizards, eggs, and rodents than other snakes. Probably they are opportunistic and eat whatever presents itself.

Defensive Behavior: Of the four snakes examined – none struck out, none attempted to bite at all. Note – all but one was handled during daylight hours.

Venom Toxicity: Venomous, and deadly. The venom has been shown to have an LD50 subcutaneous measurement of .35 mg/kg for Bungarus flaviceps, while Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait) was .32 mg/kg, and Bungarus fasciatus (Banded Krait), .62 mg/kg and less than that in another study. This makes it one of the top venomous snakes on the planet and within the top three most venomous in Thailand. The black mamba is listed at the same .32 mg/kg by venom researcher, Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry at his site. (well, now he pulled down his chart). Only 10 other terrestrial snakes in the world were listed with more potent venom. Little is known of the this venom’s effect on humans after a bite, though it is likely very similar to a bite from Bungarus candidus, I could find no treatment studies due to bites being quite rare by this krait species.

From the abstract of a recent (2/2010) venom study in Malaysia: Bungarus flaviceps (red-headed krait) venom presents an intravenous LD50 of 0.32 μg/g and exhibits enzymatic activities similar to other Bungarus toxins. ELISA cross-reactions between anti-Bungarus flaviceps and a variety of elapid and viperid venoms were observed in the current study. Double-sandwich ELISA was highly specific, since anti- B. flaviceps serum did not cross-react with any tested venom, indicating that this assay can be used for species diagnosis in B. flaviceps bites. In the indirect ELISA, anti- B. flaviceps serum cross-reacted moderately with three different Bungarus venoms (9-18%) and Notechis scutatus venom, but minimally with other elapid and viperid toxins. The results indicated that B. flaviceps venom shares common epitopes with other Bungarus species as well as with N. scutatus. The lethality of the B. flaviceps venom was neutralized effectively by antiserum prepared against B. candidus and B. flaviceps toxins and a commercial bivalent elapid antivenom prepared against B. multicinctus and Naja naja atra venoms, but was not neutralized by commercial antivenoms prepared against Thai cobra, king cobra and banded krait. These data also suggested that the major lethal toxins of B. flaviceps venom are similar to those found in B. multicinctus and B. candidus venoms.

Treatment Summary: Envenomation can produce moderate to severe flaccid paralysis, and respiratory failure requiring intubation and ventilation in severe cases. Antivenom available for major species (detailed below), could potentially prevent worsening of paralysis, but may not reverse established paralysis.

Key Diagnostic Features: Minimal to mild local reaction + flaccid paralysis

Antivenom Code: SAsTRC04
Antivenom Name: Banded Krait Antivenin
Manufacturer: Science Division, Thai Red Cross Society
Phone: +66-2-252-0161 (up to 0164)
Address: Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, 1871 Rama IV Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Country: Thailand

Offspring: Two clutches from two adult female red-headed kraits were studied by Chulalongkorn University scientists in Bangkok. One clutch was four eggs, and the other, six eggs. After 81-84 days in incubation at 26-27C and the other clutch at 30-32C eggs hatched. Fewer eggs hatched at the higher temperature incubation. The average hatchling length was 28.9cm +/- .8cm measured from snout to vent. Weight of each was 7.2 to 7.8 grams. Humidity in the incubation enclosures was 60-70%. After 7-10 days all snakes had shed.

Notes: I have seen four of these kraits, and they are quite incredible to find in the wild considering how rare they are. Bungarus flaviceps has not been studied very well, and I suspect that most of the information on Wikipedia and other information sources has been generalized from other Thailand kraits like the Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus) and Many Banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus) because the wording seems too similar to be by chance. There are a number of Malayan Blue Coral snakes misidentified on Youtube videos, and on Wikipedia.

These snakes have not been studied well in captivity or in the wild, except for the previously mentioned study in which the kraits lived surprisingly long. Usually, the literature shows the red-headed krait dies quickly in captivity. These kraits are not known to bite during the daytime, but, be exceptionally careful when handling them.

Substrate: Best? Leaves and something large to hide underwood is best, rocks, something solid.

Ways to differentiate Bungarus flaviceps from the Malayan Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus):

1. B. flaviceps has a triangle cross-section, while C. bivirgatus has more of a round cross-section.
2. C. bivirgatus has a venter that is all red – orange. B. flaviceps has red under the head and tail only.
3. B. flaviceps reaches about 2 meters while B. bivirgatus grows to just 1.7 meters.
4. B. bivirgatus has lateral lines on both sides of the body toward the venter, which are solid light blue or white.
5. By studying some video one can see how their crawling pattern differs.
6. B. flaviceps has a more sizable head, a wider head, and larger mouth than the coral snake.

7/25/13 Update. At 11:30 pm in a Thailand National Park in Trang Province, a friend and I found a large 1.9+ meter long Bungarus flaviceps on the trail and photographed and shot video of it. Video #1 is of this snake. The photos on this page are all of the same snake. As with all snakes found, it was released in the same spot as where it was found.

Red-headed Krait Scientific Classification

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

Binomial name: Bungarus flaviceps

Classified by Reinhardt, in year, 1843

Photos of Bungarus flaviceps

Tailing the red-headed krait, Trang Province, Thailand.
Tailing the red-headed krait around 2 a.m. in the middle of the rainforest, Trang Province, Thailand.
Red-headed krait peaking underneath the tail.
After a krait stops trying to get away, you will be lucky to get a little peak before it covers its head. ©2011 ThailandSnakes.com.
The red tail is unmistakably krait. The high-vertebral ridge is one of the differentiators between this snake and the similar in color, Blue Malayan Coral Snake.
The tail is unmistakably krait. The high-vertebral ridge is one of the differentiators between this snake and the similar in color, Blue Malayan Coral Snake. ©2011 ThailandSnakes.com.

Video – Large Red-Headed Krait caught in Trang Province, Southern Thailand:

Video – Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps caught in Southern Thailand:

Part 2 of Red Headed Krait Video:

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Small Spotted Coral Snake – Venomous – Dangerous

Speckled Coral Snake - Venomous - Potentially Dangerous
Speckled Coral Snake – Calliophis maculiceps

“Calliophis maculiceps” (Speckled coral snake, Small-spotted Coral Snake)

[Last updated: 28 November 2019]

Length: Average max length is 35 cm

Range: These small coral snakes are found all over Thailand and some other countries in Asia. I have seen a couple dozen of these snakes in southern Thailand, usually found by people in their potted plants outside.

Habitat: These snakes enjoy the leaf litter, loose dirt, and cool areas under rotting trees and other foliage. Occasionally they are seen dead on the road during or after rain when they probably come up above ground to avoid water. They are very rarely found during the daytime, and one scientist said they are usually only seen during September and October. But, I’ve seen them year-round.

Active Time? Nocturnal – active almost exclusively at night, or underground during the daytime.

Food: Very small snakes like the Brahminy blind snake, worm snakes, worms, and probably termite, ant, and other insect eggs.

Defensive Behavior: They curl up their bright red (pink or orange), white and black spotted tail as a defense mechanism. These snakes have little else for defense, as they don’t usually attempt to bite. The mouth on the Calliophis maculiceps is very small, yet they are fully capable of biting and envenomating humans.

Venom Toxicity: This is a coral snake, so, the potential for life-threatening envenomation does potentially exist. Their venom is neurotoxic. There are places on the human body where this snake could get a good bite in, given the chance. Between the fingers and toes is an ideal piece of skin to bite. Just be very careful with these, and all coral snakes. Just because a snake has not been known to cause significant envenomation in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. If you keep this snake as a pet – be very careful not to get too comfortable holding it – it is potentially a deadly snake.

Offspring: One scientist noted a clutch of just 2 eggs.

Notes: These are remarkably beautiful snakes, and yet so small that they could be mistaken for a worm of some sort if. Body patterns can differ slightly. Some, like this juvenile exhibit black stripes and spots. Some have just spots. Some are almost uniformly brown with very few or light spots. The body of this coral snake is round, without a pronounced vertebral ridge. The belly is bright orange, and the tip of the tail has white and black. When the tail is raised, it is quite stunning. These snakes are common and are kept as pets across the world.

Speckled Coral Snake from side - Calliophis maculiceps
This juvenile speckled coral was about half the diameter of a pencil.
Defensive behavior of Calliophis maculiceps.

All Photos – ©2011 Vern Lovic

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Subfamily: Elapinae
Genus: Calliophis
Species: C. maculiceps

Calliophis maculiceps
(Discovered by Gunther in the year 1858)

Small-spotted Coral Snake Video:

Blue Malaysian Coral Snake – Venomous – Deadly

Deadly snake, Calliophis bivurgatis flaviceps - blue Malaysian coral snake
Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps. ©2012 Tom Charlton. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Blue Malaysian Coral Snake is a venomous elapid and is one of the most strikingly beautiful snakes you’ll ever see. I’ve been lucky enough to see one crossing the road in southern Thailand and I didn’t have any snake hook to grab him.

[Last updated: 28 November 2019]

Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps (Blue Malaysian Coral Snake, Blue Long-glanded Coral Snake)

3 Sub-species: C. b. bivirgatus in Java – lacks blue stripes on ventral.
C. b. flaviceps in Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia (possibly, no records), Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and various islands of the Riau Archipelago. C. b. tetrataenia in Borneo has a light yellow stripe on side, without blue stripe.

Thais Say: ngoo bik thong dang

Length: Up to 180 cm, however usually around 140 cm

Range: This beautiful coral snake is found from around Phang Nga and south into Peninsular Malaysia.

Habitat: Usually found at some elevation – over 400 meters. Calliophis bivirgata prefers heavily wooded and wet areas of primary and secondary rainforest.

They seem to prefer living under and foraging under and on top of leaves and fallen trees and rocks.

Blue Malaysian Coral Snake or Blue Long-glanded Coral Snake. Calliophis bivirgata. Deadly elapid snake from Southern Thailand.
Red-headed Krait Snake  Bungarus flaviceps.. This snake looks VERY similar to a Blue Malaysian Coral Snake (Long-glanded Blue Coral). This snake came from Phang Nga province, Thailand. Copyright Anders Henry. Used with Permission.

Active Time: These corals snakes are found typically at night, but on rainy and cloudy days they can also be found to be active in the daylight, like some other coral snakes.

Description: Medium-sized, though large for a coral snake, this snake reaches 140 cm typically, and up to 170 cm. or so, have been recorded. The body is mostly deep blue or black with light blue or white stripes along the lower ventral side of the body. The head, venter (belly), and tail are brilliant red. The nose is blunt for foraging the leaf litter where it spends most of its time. Dorsal scale count: 13-13-13.

Defensive Behavior: Always avoiding man and other large threats, they can be very fast as they flip about almost spastically. When they are trapped and tailed, they may attempt to flip over on the dorsal side, exposing a brilliant ventral of red, orange, and pinkish color. During foraging, these snakes are very slow-moving.

Food: Prey includes other snakes, lizards, frogs, birds.

Danger: All coral snakes must be treated as potentially lethal snakes. That said, many people free-handle these snakes at their own peril. Deaths have occurred as the result of envenomation by this snake. One man in Singapore was reported to have died within five minutes of envenomation. Do be exceptionally careful and never hand-hold any deadly snake.

Venom Toxicity: Neurotoxic venom which does not initially present with much pain at the bite site is immediately acting to block nerve impulses. The wound may become numb, and lips may also get numb. Difficulty in breathing occurs as the venom shuts down muscle contractions – the diaphragm and other major muscles.

Antivenom: None.

Key Diagnostic Features: Local pain + flaccid paralysis
General Approach to Management: All cases should be treated as urgent and potentially lethal. Rapid assessment and commencement of treatment for symptoms is mandatory. Admit all cases.

Offspring: Oviparous and clutches of 1-3 eggs.

Notes: One of the most impressive snakes to see in the wild. Fairly common in deep Southern Thailand and Malaysia mountains. This snake is easily confused with Calamaria schlegeli in Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, Java, and Sumatra. C. schlegeli is the Red-headed Reed Snake, which is harmless. The reed snake has smaller scales and no red tail or venter. Venter is grey and white.

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Calliophis
Species: C. bivirgata
Binomial name: Calliophis bivirgata

(Friedrich Boie, 1827)

High Definition (1080p) Video of Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps Found During Daylight in Singapore:

King Cobra Washes Over Waterfall – Phattalung, Thailand

Thanks to Robert Abrams for permission to post these photos and story. Amazing Thailand.
Thanks to Robert Abrams for permission to post these photos and story. Amazing Thailand.

Click images to enlarge.

Robert Abrams sent me some photos of a snake he said washed over Menora waterfall he was relaxing at, the location is about 40 km outside of Ampur Muang, Phattalung province, southern Thailand. It was none other than the ultimate venomous snake, the king cobra.

In his words –

“It was raining very heavy that day. Some friends and I went swimming at a waterfall outside the town where we teach. All a sudden it was swept down into the pool where we were sitting. It was pretty stunned, I think it was in shock because the water was abnormally cold. It also had a break in the scales along its side. It was still alive at the time. It almost managed to make it out of the water, a friend and I tried to get a stick but by the time we found one it had been swept further downstream. It may well have survived, but I doubt it. I think enough time in that cold water and the beating it took going over waterfalls would eventually finish it off.”

Amazing! Some people never get to see a king cobra in the wild – and this one almost dropped in Robert’s lap.

I’m glad he didn’t reach it with a stick like he was trying to. Originally he thought it was a rat snake, which is harmless.

It looks to me like the snake was probably run over by a motorbike or other vehicle and went back into the wilderness to try to mend itself. It was likely ready to die though. That looks like a wicked injury.

King Cobra at Waterfall

Both images, Copyright 2013 Robert Abrams.

More information about the King Cobra Snake here!

Fastest King Cobra on the Planet?

King Cobra juvenile found herping Krabi, Thailand.
Just a little king cobra saying hello.

It’s a sensational headline, but I thought it was important that you read this if you handle venomous snakes at all – and even if you don’t. (King cobra video below)

I got a call from my friend this morning. He told me they caught a 2+ meter king cobra at a palm plantation the night before. He said it was super fast.

King Cobras are fast when young…

Well, my first thought was – when they’re young and smaller like that – under 3-4 meters – yeah, they are quite quick. The juveniles up until about 2 meters are usually fast. I have yet to work personally with a king cobra less than 2.5 meters. I want to – but, will respect their speed a lot more.

The juvenile king cobras are like a completely different snake than the big ones. They move differently – darting their heads around constantly, and very fast and short motions. The bigger kings are more deliberate in their movements and are much slower, even when straight from the wild. Not to call them slow – but, you can work with them to some degree without dying.

I took the motorbike over to see the snake after lunch. My friend was sleeping on a bench. I woke him up with a clamp down on his foot – as if a snake bit him. He didn’t jump or anything, so I was disappointed my trick didn’t work. No matter – he woke right up and showed me the beast.

He told me it had eaten two red-tailed racers that morning, both of which were about 2 meters in length – but thin. I figured the king would be a bit slow and conserving energy as it digested all that food. I was so wrong.

This king cobra was black with light bands – very light, I wouldn’t call the bands yellow- they were more like a yellow/green. It was under 2.5 meters and over 2.0. It had a very long hood – and was really gorgeous to look at. My friend always goes the extra mile… when he opened up the gate and showed him his face we got a big surprise from this snake.

See the video of this super-fast Ophiophagus hannah below:

This king came up that tree stump faster than any snake I’ve ever seen. Not that I’ve seen it all – however, I have seen many fast snakes – rat snakes of all sorts, tree snakes, big, small, thin and fast… and no snake has ever pulled one of these maneuvers on me.

I wanted to post this to give you an idea that you “think you know a snake” – but then one will do something you’ve never seen before. This has happened to me often as I learn more about monocled and king cobras. I’ve probably spent 200 hours working with them and studying them – watching other people work with them. I learned a whole lot in the first 50 hours and still, I’m always learning new behaviors and what these snakes are capable of.

Every snake species has a range of behaviors that they can exhibit. Snake handlers know, in general, what a snake is capable of – because it’s a certain species. However, there are snakes within the species, that, for whatever reason – learned behaviors that are different from most of the other snakes – and when they exhibit them – it can surprise the hell out of you.

Be careful with venomous snakes of all sorts – and never take them for granted.

More info about King Cobras here.

King Cobra Fact Page >

All King Cobra Pages >

Wagler’s Pit Viper – Venomous and Dangerous

Tropidolaemus wagleri - Wagler's Pit Viper - Dangerous
Tropidolaemus wagleri – Wagler’s Pit Viper – Dangerous and potentially deadly bites.

Tropidolaemus wagleri – also called: Wagler’s Pit viper; temple viper; bamboo snake; speckled pit viper

[Last Updated: 28 November 2019]

Thais say: ngoo keow took geh

Length: Average length of 60 cm. Male smaller than female. Female maximum length at 100 cm.

Appearance: Wagler’s pit viper is a short green (งูเขียว) pit viper and the female is considerably thicker (3-4 times as thick) than the male. A marked difference in patterns is noted with the female becoming darker and with strong banding as you can see in the above image. The males are so radically different that they look like completely different species (sexual dimorphism). In three reptile identification books I have for Thailand, they make no mention of the differences between the sexes. The female is pictured in each case.

Dorsal scale count ( 23 to 29 ) – ( 21 to 27 ) – ( 17 to 21 ) and usually 21 to 23 mid-body dorsal scale rows in males and 23 to 27 mid-body scale rows in females. Dorsal scales are strongly keeled in females, and lesser keeled in males.

Coloration can vary significantly among females. Here is a very yellow T. wagleri.

Tropidolaemus wagleri - very yellow phase. Coloration not altered.
Yellow and black female Wagler’s Pit Viper from Southern Thailand.

Here is a darker colored female, but not nearly as much as the top and bottom photos on this page. Not nearly as much lateral yellow as the previous photo.

This is a brightly colored Tropidolaemus wagerli (Wagler's pit viper) which is gravid and ready to have young. It is located in a tropical rainforest in Southern Thailand.
Gravid and ready to bear young. Soon to be the parent of dozens of hatchling vipers.

Besides the difference in size, thickness, and pattern, the body type is also quite different. The male grows to be around 60 cm and is long and thin, more like a wolf snake or something similar.

Below is a photo of a male Wagler’s pit viper found within one meter of a very gravid female. Obviously quite a big difference.

This is the male specimen of the species, Tropidolaemus wagleri. The female and male are markedly different in appearance of body, pattern, thickness, and coloration.
Male Wagler’s Pit Viper – note the remarkable difference between male and female (Sexual dimorphism).

Range: Southern Thailand south of Khao Sok National Park, Suratthani province. Other countries: West Malaysia; Indonesia; Philippines. There is a concentration of these common vipers on the island of Phuket, Thailand.

Habitat: Elevations up to about 1,200 meters but most abundant at elevations from 400 up to about 600 meters in lowland primary forest, secondary forest, and jungle – especially coastal mangrove. During the day these vipers can sometimes be found as little as a meter off the ground, up to a couple of meters. They seem to prefer bushes over trees. Recently I found a gravid female at one meter off the forest floor and resting on a strong vine just 1 cm in diameter.

Active Time? Mainly nocturnal, but occasionally found during the day, especially during or after rain. Crepuscular in nature, they are more often active during dusk and dawn, or on an unusually dark day during heavy rain. I have found these snakes during the day in moderate rain at 400 meters elevation, and at 2000 hours after a light rain.

Food: Birds – especially baby birds in the nest, mice and other rodents, lizards, frogs.

Defensive Behavior: Coil back into s-shape before striking. The strike is typically less than .3 meters in distance. Mouth wide-open exposing very long fangs and white tissue. Can strike in succession rather quickly. Their strike is not very fast in comparison with some of the other vipers. The heat-sensing pits between the eyes can sense temperature difference as little as 0.003 degrees Celsius. If continuously threatened they may hold their mouth wide open, like the photo above.

Venom Toxicity: Potentially deadly. Strong venom that usually does not result in death to humans. Victims experience a strong burning sensation upon envenomation, and swelling, necrosis of tissue. The multi-valent antivenom for green pit vipers treats envenomation by this snake.

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

Offspring: Live birth in September is common, with up to 41 young per litter. Male and females look different from day one, the females having light banding and the males with creme / red or brown dots on the top of the body.

Notes: Though these snakes are said to be exclusively arboreal and nocturnal, I found one on a mountain recently during the middle of the day, on the ground, during a rain shower. See the video below.

Tropidolaemus wagleri

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Tropidolaemus
Species: T. wagleri
Binomial name: Tropidolaemus wagleri

Classified by Boie, in the year 1827.

Top of head – very triangular, and thin neck (female):

Triangle Head - Female Wagler's Pit Viper

Video 1 – Wagler’s Pit Viper – found during daylight hours during a moderate rain shower with dark skies at around 400 meters elevation on a mountain in Krabi province, Southern Thailand.