Common Wolf Snake – Lycodon Capucinus – Harmless

Common Wolf Snake (Indian Wolf Snake) - Lycodon capucinus. Very common harmless snake with a range across Southeast Asia including Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia.
The Common Wolf Snake is often found inside homes on the floor, or just outside on the porch, driveway, or other hard surface. Very common across its range.

Lycodon capucinus or – Common Wolf Snake (Indian Wolf Snake) – งูหมาป่า

Appearance: A small and thin snake with the head readily distinct from the neck. Average size for this snake is around 40 cm. There is a white band across the top of the neck in juveniles which is lost later in adulthood. These snakes have an odd pattern on the dorsal (top) side which is quite easily distinguished once you’ve seen them a number of times. There is no other snake in Thailand with a similar pattern. Sometimes this pattern is white, and sometimes yellowish. The body is generally brown, the shade doesn’t vary much.

These snakes have a very reflective shine that doesn’t make for great photos with flash!

Length: We found L. capucinus averaging around 40 cm. in length. This snake can reach 80 cm. Max diameter at thickest part of body – around 2 cm.

Range:  This small snake is found across Thailand and is one of the most common snakes we are asked to identify – receiving multiple requests each month for the last half-dozen years. Other countries with the Common Wolf Snake (Indian Wolf Snake): Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; China; India (Andaman Is., Nicobar Is.); Indonesia; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Singapore; Vietnam.

Common Wolf Snake close up from Thailand. Head and neck pattern - Lycodon capucinus.
Close up shows the band across the neck as slightly yellow and the pattern as white. The Common Wolf Snake could have white or yellow pattern and neck band.

Habitat: Found on concrete walkways and porches, on limestone rock on hills, this snake seems to prefer crawling across rocks. We have found them at some elevation (200 m), but primarily at and around seal level. Comfortable in disturbed habitat. Also known to be semi-arboreal.

Active Time: The Common Wolf Snake is nocturnal.

Defensive Behavior: These snakes are a mixed bag. Some are immediately defensive and striking, while others are able to be handheld without attempting to bite at all. These snakes strike almost randomly in the air – not really to make contact, but as a threat display so they don’t need to actually bite.

Like some other snakes in Thailand, the common wolf snake will shake its tail very fast as a threat display. When in leaves, this can make a slight sound. We’ve also seen them do it on concrete and rocks without any leaves close by.

Food: Prey includes small animals like frogs, skinks, and possibly insects.

Danger: None.

Offspring: Nothing known.

Common Wolf Snake - Lycodon capucinus - on porch on Koh Samui Island, Thailand.
Yet another Common Wolf Snake found on the ground around dwellings in Thailand.

Notes: There is little information about this snake online despite exhaustive searches. This is a very common snake in Southeast Asia.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Lycodon
Species: L. capucinus
Binomial name: Lycodon capucinus

Classified by Boie in 1827.