The Best Herping Headlamp? Petzl Ultra Rush!

OK, bear with me as I recommend this obscenely expensive headlamp for herping, but I have to do it. I doubt there is anyone else in the world using this headlamp to find snakes, reptiles, amphibians, etc… but, you know what?

The Petzl Ultra Rush Headlamp is the BEST Headlamp for Herping

How much is it? Don’t ask. You can’t afford it. I afford it because I reviewed it for my Headlamps101.com site, and then I’ve been using it for the past month, and it has absolutely blown me away. I have found more snakes and other wildlife than I would have found with other lights – by far. It’s not just the brightness, it’s bright. It’s a combination of factors reviewed below.

It’s really the best headlamp for herping that I’ve seen, and I’ve used dozens of LED flashlights and eight top of the line headlamps over the years. I have never found any headlamp even close to this one.

What Qualities Are Important in a Herping Headlamp?

LUMENS

It’s not just lumens. If it was, I’d go out and buy six of the 1,500 lumens lights for $70 each, and be done with it. It has little to do with lumens. I mean, you need a good number of lumens – say 400 lm to be bright enough for most of your herping needs. Four hundred does it for me for ground herping. It’s just about right. With the Ultra Rush headlamp, I get 420 lm for 5 hours straight. I can’t remember the last time I herped for 5 hours in a night, but yeah, it’s available if you need it that long. If you need it for longer than that, you can get 300 lumens for 7 hour out of it. That’s plenty long enough for even the most intrepid herpers. Three hundred lumens is still very usable for closer distances – say 3-4 meters in front of you, though it isn’t all that great for herping high in the trees.

With four hundred and twenty lumens, you will be able to light up the ground to about 10-15 meters and trees  – at every distance you could need to – because you sure aren’t climbing a 15 meter tree to get a snake down. You don’t need more lumens for most uses. That said, for road cruising – it is nice to have more so you can see 50 meters or so down the road and spot a snake. The Ultra Rush headlamp GIVES YOU THAT with 760 max lumens on demand. Switch on the super-bright 760 lumens occasionally as you need to see extra-far or need something you’re unsure about, lit up like Times Square. Or, you can just crank it up from the start to 760 lumens and it will go straight for 2 hours. Note – if you do it this way, it’s actually over 900 lumens for the first 15-20 minutes!

When I am riding my motorbike with the high-beams on and then turn on this headlamp at full power – the headlamp is easily 6 times as bright as my high-beams on the motorbike. That’s bright.

BEAM SHAPE

Keep in mind that the next factor – Beam Shape – greatly affects the measurement of lumens put out by the light. You can have 420 lumens spread out over 1 meter diameter at 4 meters, or at .5 meters, it is giving only half the light. The Ultra Rush gives you a large beam size – matching the capabilities of your eyes. Most beams are too tight or far too wide to give you what you need. For example, a headlamp with a 420 lumen rating that is spread out across 150 degrees of angle – will be so dim – you’d be lucky to be able to read a book by it. Lumens is a measure of total light leaving the headlamp. How it spreads out – substantially affects the brightness of the light. This leads us to the next factor…

For herping, you need a beam that matches exactly what your eyes are capable of. Your eyes are only capable of seeing snakes and other wildlife in a small range of area as you scan the ground or trees. At three meters from you, you’d be lucky to see a full meter in diameter. At four meters you could see a meter or so. The Ultra Rush was designed to match your vision.

Most headlamps have an overly-bright center spotlight beam which is too tight, too small, and too bright. At four meters distance, it is around a half-meter in size. That is too small and will contribute to eye-fatigue.

Another typical feature of headlamps and flashlights is that they try to do two things at once. They try to have a bright center beam (spot) and a wide beam going at the same time. The result is a too-bright center spotlight and a very weak flood light. Neither of these helps you find snakes. What you need is a circular beam that covers enough diameter so you can see what the light makes visible. The Ultra Rush is just perfect for this. There are 6 LED lights that blend perfectly to give you a round beam that is evenly lit and a big enough diameter to help you see everything that is there in front of you.

BEAM LIGHT BALANCE

Something I didn’t understand until recently is that, you want a WARM COLORED BEAM for your headlamp. Previous to the Ultra Rush, I was using the Nao 2 Headlamp – which I thought was awesome for 2016 – it’s dependable and I found hundreds of snakes using it. Guess what? It has a either a blue-tinted (cold) beam, or maybe it’s neutral – I cannot tell. But, when I compare the two beams – Nao 2 against the Ultra Rush – the Nao 2 beam has a bluish tint in comparison.

At first I didn’t know how that affected herping. Today I know, the slightly warm tint of the Ultra Rush is PERFECT for finding wildlife in the rainforest. For whatever reason, the warm light accents the differences between snakes and plants, snakes and the surroundings, lizards and plants, insects and plants or the ground. It’s really quite amazing to see the difference, but I’ve found so much more wildlife with this new Ultra Rush headlamp, than I ever found with my other headlamps with blue tints and tighter or looser beams.

DEPENDABILITY

The Petzl company has been around since the late 1970’s! No kidding. They were making headlamps for cavers and climbers for 40+ years now. They are definitely the best company for headlamps, and I’d not use anything else. I’ve used four of their top headlamps and all of them were durable, dependable, and gave a great quality of light. I’d certainly not switch to any other brand at this point. Go with what WORKS I’ve always been told.

When you’re in the deep rainforest and you need to depend on a headlamp to get you back out of the forest – and find you the most snakes and other wildlife – I strongly suggest you get this Ultra Rush headlamp. It’s expensive as hell. I encourage you to compare it to other lights – especially beam patterns. One-thousand lumens doesn’t mean much if the beam is super tight and laser-like. At least order this headlamp and try it out for yourself. I think you won’t be able to send it back. Like me. You’ll keep it and make excuses why you couldn’t possibly send it back. You’ll love it from the day it arrives.

Cheers,

Vern L.
ThailandSnakes.com
USASnakes.com
SnakebiteAid.org

 

Common Thailand Non-Venomous Snakes – Photos, Videos, Links

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Thailand’s Very Common Non-Venomous Snakes

(Last updated: 10 April 2017)

Thailand has around 185 snake species considered non-venomous, or mildly venomous and not a threat to human beings. Though these snakes are not known to be dangerous to humans, that doesn’t mean that they are not. The red-necked keelback, for instance, was a snake kept in aquariums across the world for years before the first deadly bites occurred. Turns out that they have a very strong venom that can be delivered with prolonged or multiple bites. Do be careful with all snakes.

Chrysopelea ornata. Golden Tree Snake

These snakes are very common and it is probably the most commonly seen snake among tourists and Thai locals. They are at home in the bushes and on the ground during the day. They are excellent climbers and prefer to eat the tokay geckos and other geckos. These snakes have a mild venom that can kill or disable birds and other small animals. It is not likely to affect your dog or cat, if bitten.

Info Sheet – Golden Tree Snake / Flying Snake (click)

Side view of Chrysopelea ornata, the flying snake, or the golden tree snake.
Golden Tree Snake
Golden tree snake (Chrysopelea ornata) close-up.
Golden Tree Snake – aka Flying Snake. Not dangerous. Quite fast in trees.
Chrysopelea paradisi, the paradise tree snake, or paradise flying tree snake from Southern Thailand.
A close relative of the golden tree snake, this is the ‘paradise tree snake’ – Chrysopelea paradisi. Very similar in appearance with the addition of some orange or red color to some of the scales on the top of the body and head.

Golden Tree Snake Video

Juvenile Chrysopelea ornata with Bright Colors:

Paradise Tree Snake Video – Catching Chrysopelea paradisi from a Tree in Southern Thailand:

Ahaetulla prasina. Oriental Whip Snake

Oriental Whip Snake, Ahaetulla prasina, from Thailand
Oriental Whip Snake – Venomous – Not Dangerous

The oriental whip snake is a really gorgeous snake with a very thin body – up to two meters in length. The color is usually bright green, but there are some which are grey, brown, or even yellow. This snake is harmless for people, but has a mild venom which affects lizards and birds they prey on. Easily recognized by it’s very long head in the shape of an arrow, and another feature, harder to see – the tongue stays out when annoyed.

Ptyas korros. Indo-Chinese Rat Snake

This rat snake is also very common no matter what type of weather or season. These are terrestrial (land-based) snakes with excellent climbing skills. They hunt lizards and other small animals on the ground during daylight hours. Rat snakes have no fangs, but their saliva is known to contain venom proteins. Nobody has been recorded in the literature as having been envenomated significantly by these snakes. Color varies from brown to grey or black.

Info Sheet – Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (click)

A brownish colored Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (Ptyas korros) from Southern Thailand.

Grey Indochinese rat snake in Thailand
Indochinese rat snakes eat predominantly rats and other rodents.

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake Video

A Juvenile Rat Snake – Brown with Light Banding Typical of Young Ptyas korros in Southern Thailand:

Coelognathus radiata. Copper-headed Racer / Radiated Rat Snake. 

These rat snakes are common around trash bins, and anywhere rats and other rodents can be found. Though they are primarily terrestrial, I have seen one 3-4 meters up a palm tree raiding a bird nest of its young or eggs. These are strong, very fast striking snakes with a lot of nervous energy. Like the other rat snakes, it has no fangs with which to deliver venom.

Info Sheet – Copper-headed Racer (click)

Radiated Rat Snake - Copperhead Racer

Double S position before this copper-headed racer strikes is typical. Coelognathus radiata.

These radiated rat snakes can be more yellow and brown. This one is quite orange colored. Coelognathus radiata.
While usually the radiated rat snake has more of a yellow tone to it, this one was quite orange / brown. They have an amazing pattern when defensive and flared up.

Copper-headed Racer Video

Juvenile Copper-headed Rat Snake (Radiated rat snake) Caught on the Road:

Adult Copper-headed Racer (Radiated rat snake) – Letting Go in Wild:

Kukri Snakes

Purple Kukri Snake - Harmless and common in Thailand.
Oligodon purpurascens, a very common kukri snake in our area. These have a fairly wide range in the south of Thailand.

Kukri snakes are found Thailand wide – and nearly all of them have the distinctive pattern on the top of the head as shown in the image above. Kukris are ground snakes which like cruising through and around the leaf litter. They eat eggs of all kinds, and small animals. While they are not venomous, they do have enlarged rear teeth which are shaped like kukri knives. They use these specialized teeth for cracking eggs so they can drink the inside yolk.

 

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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 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.
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