Tag Archives: Thailand brown snake

Brown Whip Snake – Dryophiops rubescens – Not Dangerous

Keel-bellied whip snake, Dryophiops rubescens. Thailand.

Here is a whip snake that was a bit of a mystery for a while, my first one was finally identified by an American expat snake researcher in Bangkok – Michael Cota in 2007.

This snake is found in Southern Thailand. We’ve found some in Krabi province of 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 browner 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.

Dryophiops rubescens - Brown-Whip-Snake - Krabi, Thailand
Dryophiops rubescens – Brown Whip Snake. Rear fanged. Not dangerous to humans. Relatively rare.

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 the 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 thinner than my smallest finger.

Range: Literature has this snake occurring only in Thailand’s deep south, but we have found half-a-dozen in various spots around Krabi province – so, obviously the range includes this province, probably as well as others.

Habitat: Trees and ground. I found a few on the ground and some in the trees. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush. I’ve also found them twice on 60 cm diameter trees, climbing slowly. Recently we found one hanging out in the curve of a guardrail on a mountain in Krabi.

Active Time? Diurnal, but possibly also nocturnal – they’ve been found on trees at night and appear to be hunting. Most of our finds were during daylight hours.

Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily. Possibly small insects.

Defensive Behavior: Accurate strikers! One of the ones we’ve had didn’t bite at all. One got me in the head twice before I even knew it struck. Another 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 possibly cause swelling and pain at the bite site.

Offspring: Nothing known.

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

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Dryophiops
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:

Page Updated: 12 February 2020

Mock Viper – Psammodynastes pulverulentus – Not Dangerous

Mock Viper - Southern Thialand - P. pulverulentus.
The mock viper has a very detailed pattern on the head, and somewhat distinctive pattern on the body. This snake is harmless for people, despite its resemblance to the Malayan Pit Viper – dangerous and deadly.

(Page Updated: 22 November 2017)

Psammodynastes pulverulentus (Mock Viper, Dusky Mock Viper, Common Mock Viper)

Thais say: ngoo mok

Length: Adults average about 75 cm (28 inches)

Range: All over Thailand and southeast Asia including Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam – even getting over to Nepal and the other way, Taiwan.

Habitat: Typically the mock vipers enjoy hilly regions. I found one at a local Buddhist temple (the mock viper you see in the images on this page) at the bottom of a limestone mountain, with a skink it had just killed in southern Thailand. Mock vipers can also be found under leaves and brush. Recently we found two of them in some leaf litter on a mountain. Apparently they like a variety of habitat.

Active Time? Nocturnal primarily, but as I mentioned I found one during the morning about 10:30 am., and I found two more at night around 10 pm. These Thailand snakes are terrestrial – preferring the ground to trees.

Food: Skinks and other lizards, and of course, frogs – like nearly every other snake in Thailand. The adult mock viper I found in the morning was eating a large skink. This mock viper also, occasionally eats other small snakes.

Defensive Behavior: Slow to bite, they coil up as most snakes and strike. I handled mine repeatedly and didn’t get struck at but a couple of times.

Mock Viper - Non Venomous - Not Dangerous, native to Thailand
Mock Viper – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Venom Toxicity: Probably not toxic enough to hurt people or large pets. Rear-fanged, but not know to cause medically significant bites.

Offspring: This species is ovoviparous, embryos develop inside eggs which remain inside the mother where they hatch. Mating has been observed occurring for over one hour in a tank for m/f mocks in captivity.

Note – Males have 3 hemi-penises, one of very few snakes with this anatomy.

Notes: These are really beautiful snakes. Mock vipers have a thick, strong body. They are not really vipers, but they do possess a weak venom that doesn’t affect humans much. They are rear fanged. Female mock vipers are larger than the males on average at adulthood.

IMPORTANT: There is a chance you will confuse it with the highly toxic venomous snake, the Malayan Pit Viper. It has markings that are very similar, though it doesn’t have the giant triangular head of the Malayan pit viper – it is pretty close. I thought I had a mutant Malayan pit viper when I first found this species.

Mock Viper top and head, Thailand venomous snake
Very distinct markings, not similar to a Malayan Pit Viper when looked at closely
Mock Viper with Dead Skink Meal
He regurgitated that skink as some tourists poked him with a stick before I arrived.

Video – Mock Viper Found at Night

Video – Mock Viper I Caught in the morning in Southern Thailand:

Common Mock Viper Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Psammodynastes
Species: P. pulverulentus
Binomial name: Psammodynastes pulverulentus
(classified by H. Boie, in year 1827)


My Favorite Herping Gear

I Love these Headlamps for Herping

  • My fav. HEADLAMP (light, programmable, Bluetooth, tough)
  • another favorite, less expensive HEADLAMP (tough, crazy bright). Make sure to get the ‘cool white’ option.

My Favorite Knife

My Favorite Gear for High-rez Video

  • 4K Video capable (expensive – replaceable batteries)
  • 4K Video (inexpensive, stabilization not as good as above. I have this one.)

Incredible Macro Lenses

Mobile Phone with 4K Backup

Thailand Snake Photos – Indochinese Sand Snake

Brown snake with tan stripes, the Indochinese sand snake in Thailand
Psammophis condanarus indochinensis

Sent by Paul Donatus, this is an Indochinese Sand Snake that are common in the Chiang Mai – northern region of Thailand.

Personally, I’ve never seen one in southern Thailand, alive, or dead on the side of the road – so I think we don’t have them down here. They attain lengths of about 1 meter. They They eat frogs, smooth scaled lizards / geckos and even other snakes on occasion so reports one keeper.

Indochinese Sand Snake Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Psammophis
Species: P. condanarus
Binomial name: Psammophis condanarus

Thailand has such diversity among snakes. There are over 200 species of snake living in the country. It’s always exciting to find one I don’t know – and have never seen. Always a bit strange handling them – not knowing, is it venomous and toxic to people, or not?

Keep in mind, I don’t pick up a snake I don’t know with my hands – but when I say “handling” I usually mean on the end of a snake hook, or with snake tongs.

A very cool snake, and apparently Paul has more photos to send. Will get them up as time permits.

Thanks Paul for introducing me to the Indochinese Sand Snake!