Tag Archives: snake hunting thailand

Night Herping Field Trip – Krabi, Thailand

Trimeresurus venustus, called the beautiful pit viper, or the brown-spotted pit viper from Southern Thailand, Krabi province.
The Brown-spotted Pit Viper – Trimeresurus venustus. Always a good find!

We had a rather successful night herping trip about ten days ago or so. I’ll cover what we found. It’s always a blast no matter what snake is found because there is always other wildlife that is found.

First up was a spot on the ground in the leaf litter by Marc I think it was. He saw an adult Lycodon laoensis that had recently shed and was bright and lively. That made us all feel better as we were only about an hour into the herp. It’s always good to get the first one out of the way. The Laotian wolf snakes, as L. laoensis is called, are usually quite calm but occasionally you get a bitey one that cannot be held and just rapid fire strikes at the air in a haphazard fashion. This one didn’t get bitey.

On a technical note, my damn camera was set at rear shutter flash sync and to top it off I had a shutter sync of 1/60th the entire night. I’m not sure where my head was, but it wasn’t into photographing snakes. Maybe I was just so excited because we found one after another?

Next up I think was me finding a Lycodon capucinus climbing a tree. Yes, you heard that correctly. It was going up the tree. The tree was 70 cm in diameter and the snake was about 2 meters off the ground. After stepping in a hole that could have been 2 meters deep, and catching myself, I was able to grab the snake gently and take him over for the rest of the crew to see. We took some shots on a moss covered concrete road and let it go. Another great specimen, but to tell you the truth I’ve seen so many of the two Lycodon’s we’d found that I didn’t really care if I ever found another. It’s not that bad, but come on already. Dozens and dozens over the years.

So, we had two snakes and were about 90 minutes into the herp.

I think the next snake was Trimeresurus venustus, found by as we hit the peak of the hill. It was cruising the ground and probably in need of a shed. Still, we took a bunch of photos and videos and let it go in a bush just to watch it climb around. A friend earlier had found a few of these snakes in one night, so this was my target species for the night. Check! (top image) Three snakes and we were only half done.

The next snake I found was the green cat snake (Boiga cyanea). It was cruising the leaf litter and was very calm when we found it. Three guys with bright torches picking it up and shooting photos should have irked it a bit, but no biting attempts were made.

Close-up shot of Boiga cyanea, a green cat-eyed snake held by herper in Southern Thailand province of Krabi.
Boiga cyanea – the Green Cat Snake.

One guy had to bail, it was getting late, so he took off on his motorbike, maybe running over the tail of a pit viper we found later with a kink in her tail.

The next snake we found was a deadly Malayan pit viper. They’re common, and I was sure we’d see one. This was a sub-adult and it had a hard kink in the tail. I’m guessing Ronny ran it over when he left on his motorbike. There was a bunch of stuff littering the road, and if he did hit it I don’t think anybody would fault him. The break was below the anal scale, so, probably will be OK. It crawled away OK, as you can see in the video I’ll post before too long at the Thailand Living YouTube channel. I’ve seen so many of this snake too that I didn’t take photos. I was pissed at my camera and my ineptitude with the camera at this point.

Marc and I kept on slowly down the hill and found a little Lycodon butleri (Butler’s Wolf Snake). See image below.  This snake had 58 white bands – just like other juvenile’s of this species I’ve seen photos of.

I shot photos and video with my little Nikon AW100 which worked better than the Nikon D610 I had goofed the settings on.

A small snake found herping Southern Thailand in Krabi called, Lycdon butleri - Butler's wolf snake..
Butler’s Wolf Snake – Lycodon butleri. Only one I’ve ever found.

It was getting late and neither Marc or myself thought we’d be out later than midnight. It was already past 12:30 am. and we headed down the hill to make it home by 1 am.

Oh, I forgot to tell about some of the other animals we saw. A couple of frogs, didn’t get good photos of either. A scorpion eating a cricket on a tree. Some sort of mammal ran across in front of us, and it wasn’t a cat. The only thing I could come up with was mongoose. Not sure what it was. It moved so smoothly as it ran. Very odd.

So that was it. I think six snakes in total, but I could be missing one, I thought it was seven.

Herping in Thailand is usually a blast – if the timing is right. Tonight the timing was good – it was a half-moon, fairly clear night with rain blowing through a little bit in quick and light showers.

Herping Southern Thailand

Yesterday it rained a bit, and had been raining the previous few days. That would be good for snakes, I thought. It was set to be a near-full moon night, and that wasn’t so great for snakes, but I was eager to get back out to see what I could find. The last time I was out herping was 2-weeks ago. I saw a couple cool snakes, and then while trying to get photos of a Homalopsis buccata I fell backward into the mud and water at the edge of a stream. It was late at night, I was soaking wet, and I had a 15 km motorbike ride home. Not so fun, but definitely funny after I quit swearing at my misfortune (and the broken concrete which sent me over backwards).

I got a message from a guy from the UK about herping sometime. He said he’d be staying in Trang, and if I wanted to go out, he’d be keen. I wasn’t keen at first. You know, I get about five of these requests per month from people that see ThailandSnakes.com or some of my videos online. I just don’t have time to go out with everyone that writes, but more importantly, it just doesn’t make sense most times.

Though sometimes I’ll go out with someone that doesn’t have a clue about snakes, just to be able to introduce them to snakes and teach them a little of what I know. Usually though, I like to go herping with people I can learn something from… whatever it is. It might not even be about herping. If someone from Tasmania wrote me (and he already has), and wanted to go out – I’d go in a second. Why? I want to find out about his country, the wildlife, the snakes. If a herpetologist (biologist) or other serious enthusiast with a lot of experience writes – I will usually go out.

This guy is a 17 year old that appeared to have little experience herping in Thailand or anywhere with venomous snakes. He had a real interest, and I figured I’d go sometime after April when the snake-finding activity picked up a bit, as is usual at that time.

As it turns out he contacted me again recently and would be nearby. He sent me a link to his photos, and I was blown away. He has already, in about 6 months, found MANY Thailand snakes and even some that I’ve not seen here before – 2 cat snakes that I really want to find. (nigriceps and jasperidae (spelling?))

So we met up last night and the kid is quick. I’ve seen only two other people know southeast Asia snakes to the level of depth he does, and of course that’s a subjective statement. Suffice to say, he impressed the hell out of me with what he knew. I thought he’d be asking questions like, “what do snakes eat”. Instead, he’s explaining to me the difference between the Malayan Bridle Snake and the juvenile Malayan krait. He is almost an encyclopedia of snake knowledge. It was awesome to spend time with him as we picked each other’s brains about snake habits, appearance, and defensive behavior. We found 5 snakes too – near-full moon be damned.

He wants to make snakes his life… I have no doubt that if he sticks to it, he’ll be THE snake authority in Southeast Asia. He’s a sponge with facts. He knew tiny details about snakes that only someone that lived here or studied the place for years knows.

He may have even found a new species of gecko already – I saw photos. We walked around until about 1:30 AM and found the Mangrove Cat Snake (B. dendrophila) Puff-faced Water Snake (H. buccata) – three of them, and the ultimate southern Thailand find, or one of them, the Malayan Krait (B. candidus).

Anyway, I do hope he goes far in the field and makes a real difference. If he knows this much at 17, it’s scary to think what he’ll be like in a couple years of living in the region! Scary in a good way.

Vern