Tag Archives: Thailand snake

Brown Whip Snake – Dryophiops rubescens – Not Dangerous

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

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

This snake was found in Krabi province, and far north of where other instances of this snake have been found in 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 more brown 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. 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 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 more thin than my smallest finger.

Range: Literature has this snake occurring only in Thailand’s deep south, but, this is the second instance of one found in Krabi province – so, obviously the range includes this province as well.

Habitat: Trees and ground. I found both on the ground. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush. Recently we found one hanging out in the curve of a guardrail on a mountain in Krabi.

Active Time? Diurnal, but possibly also nocturnal. Both of mine were found during daylight hours.

Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily.

Defensive Behavior: Accurate strikers! One of the ones we’ve had didn’t bite at all. The other 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 cause swelling and pain at the bite site.

Offspring: Nothing known about this area.

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: 6 September 2016

Malayan Krait – Blue Krait – Highly Toxic Venom

Malayan Krait (Blue Krait) from Thailand. Bungarus candidus. Common, dangerous, deadly, and size is usually about 1 meter long.
Adult Malayan (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 toxicity of venom based on some LD-50 data (terrestrial snakes). Do be careful.

(Last updated: 6 September 2016)

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 dozens 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 usually very aggressive. Shy. 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.

White and black Malaysian banded krait. Very dangerous. Very toxic venom to humans.
Bungarus candidus. Malayan Blue Krait, Malayan 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: B. candidus

(Classified as Bungarus candidus)

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!)

King Cobra – Largest Venomous Snake in World

An adult king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) in southern Thailand, resting on a branch.

KING COBRA (Ophiophagus hannah – Thailand King Cobra)

In Greek, ‘snake eater.’ Sometimes called ‘Hamadryad.’ Discovered and described by Danish naturalist, Theodore Edward Cantor in 1836. The species name, hannah reflects the snake’s arboreal habits, from Greek mythology it refers to tree dwelling nymphs of the same name.

IDENTIFICATION

Ophiophagus hannah occupies its own genus, Ophiophagus. This is different from other cobras in the Naja genus which have multiple species within the genus. There has been talk about breaking up the genus into a number of species, as differences exist in coloration, scalation, and in comparison, king cobras can be easily distinguished by the shape and size of the neck hood. Kings have a longer, thinner hood. Other cobras grow to maximum length around two meters in length – much smaller than king cobras. The king cobra has chevrons lighter in color than the body color, on the neck and body that may be very pronounced, as in kings from China, or muted, as we see on melanistic king cobras here in Southern Thailand. A technical difference between Ophiophagus hannah and all other cobras is the existence of a pair of scales on the top and rear of the head called, ‘occipital scales.’ They are located adjacent to each other behind the usual 9-scale arrangement typical of colubrids and elapids.

King Cobra Scalation Reference Chart
King Cobra Scalation Reference Chart

Image from Creative Commons – Wikipedia. Link here.

THAI LANGUAGE

In Thai language, it sounds like Ngoo how chang (literally “snake cobra elephant”, or ngoo chong ahng. There are many names for this snake.

AVERAGE AND MAXIMUM LENGTH

Max length about 5.85 meters. The presenter at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Snake Institute in Bangkok said the largest king was caught in Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand’s south, near Surat Thani province and it was 19 feet 2 inches in length.

RANGE

All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.

Thailand King Cobra, Ophiophagus hannah, is the world's largest venomous snake, and is found across most of Southeast Asia, including this one found in Thailand.
Ophiophagus hannah. Venomous and potentially deadly. Grows to around to 6-meters. Eats other snakes primarily. If bitten, victim may die within 10-20 minutes.

NOTES

I’ve seen a few king cobras (hamadryad) in the wild. One I saw in a park in Krabi – just the tail as it crossed the road behind me. I’m guessing it was an eight meter long snake. I know it is probably impossible, but I’m not joking. The tail was absolutely massive, longer and thicker by nearly double that of other 5-meter kings I’ve seen many of. This was quite possibly the biggest King Cobra in the world.

Another king I saw on the island of Penang, in Malaysia. I was coming  down a very steep hill and I saw this 3-4 meter king cruising through the dense underbrush. It was absolutely awesome to see it there when there were so many people climbing the hill close by.

Another time I saw a king about one-hundred twenty meters in elevation up a limestone mountain in Krabi province. This one rested on the steps of a popular temple – Wat Tham Seua and I had to move it away so people could come down the steps. A large four-meter long king that was very fast! Note to self – don’t try to move a king that is higher than you are (it was on steps up ahead of me and was very fast to come down to attempt to strike at me because it had the height advantage.

Recently Tom Charlton and I found a 3-meter king cobra in Krabi and got some great shots and video of it. Facebook photo of it here.

Kings are all over Thailand and can be found near houses, or really – just about anywhere. But they are not found often. They are tremendously strong and smart animals. Please give the snake a large space and do not poke it with a stick. They are very fast moving. Juvenile king cobras can also kill you. Their venom is every bit as toxic as adults. One study done by the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok showed that king venom is actually more toxic the younger the snake is.

KING COBRA HABITAT

Kings like many types of habitat. Dense forest near water and open grasslands.  Love bamboo thickets for a nest. Ideal cover is a web of small bamboo growing about a meter high with soft bamboo leaves underneath. The King I found last night was up a limestone mountain around 100 meters elevation. In Thailand they are often found wherever rat snakes might be found because they seem to prefer them.

Kings seem to prefer mountains. The other two I found were also at some elevation (200 m and around 500 meters). King cobras are usually terrestrial, but have been found many times in trees.

Another interesting bit of information is that the king cobra is said to be able to see as far as 100 meters during daylight.

ACTIVE TIME

The snake is mainly diurnal – found active during the daytime, but can also be active also at night.

FOOD (PREY)

King cobras eat other smaller snakes primarily, but also will eat monitor lizards. Occasionally they’ll eat other king cobras, pythons, lizards, birds, rodents. I saw a 5-meter long king attempting to eat a 2.5 meter reticulated python. The King appeared intimidated by the strength of the python – it’s no pushover. Here is a photo of a 3 meter king eating a 2 meter red tailed racer snake.

King Cobra Eats Red Tailed Racer Snake - Thailand
King Cobra eating a Red-tailed Racer (Oxycephalum gonyosoma) Snake – Thailand.

DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOR

Lifts its head off the ground sometimes by as much as 4-5 feet, and flattens out the neck. The hood of a King cobra doesn’t flare as wide… but, a big King will scare you much more because they can be 5 times as long as the monocled or other cobras! These snakes are not usually that afraid of people, and move slowly to ‘escape’ if they move away at all. Last night I moved a 4 meter king off some steps at a local temple so people could pass. It was not in ANY hurry to get away, and it came at me a couple of times. Impressive snakes, and not to be taken lightly. I know a man personally, his brother was bitten on the upper arm/shoulder and died in less than 10 minutes on the way to hospital.

King cobra skull showing large teeth and thick, rather short fangs for injecting venom during envenomation.
King cobra skull showing large teeth and thick, rather short fangs for injecting venom during envenomation.

VENOM TOXICITY

Very toxic, but monocled cobras (Naja kaouthia) and kraits (genus Bungarus) are more potent on the LD50 scale. The power of the King is in the volume of venom it can inject in one bite – maximum around 7ml! Kings can (and have) killed elephants with a good bite. More information on venom constituents and treatment for king cobra snakebite here.

O. HANNAH ANTIVENOM

There is a specific antivenin for the king cobras manufactured by the Red Cross Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand and available online for about $110 (May, 2015) for enough antivenin to counteract .8ml of king cobra venom. If the hospital you’re in does not have it in stock and cannot order it quickly from another nearby source, there is an alternative. Tiger snake antivenin can also work well. Online: Snake-Antivenin.com (no affiliation).

OFFSPRING

Ophiophagus hannah is the only snake known in the world that creates a nest (usually of bamboo and other leaves). This snake lays eggs which they stay with in the nest until ready to hatch. When the eggs begin hatching, the female king leaves because it eats other snakes primarily – and would likely eat the young. The young are fast, and deadly from the time they hatch. Juvenile king cobras from Thailand have yellow bands across their black bodies and heads. They look radically different from adult king cobra snakes. There is a danger of mistaking them for mangrove cat snakes (Boiga dendrophila).

Young king cobras spend their early months, and possibly years in the trees. However, recently (Spring 2016) I have found two hatchling king cobras dead on the road in Krabi. Did they attempt to cross the road immediately after hatching while in search of a proper tree to climb? Not sure. Would love to find out. If you have any insight – do let me know!

From Luke Yeomans: “A female usually deposits 20 to 40 eggs into the mound, which acts as an incubator. She stays with the eggs and guards the mound tenaciously, rearing up into a threat display if any large animal gets too close, for roughly 60 to 90 days. Inside the mound, the eggs are incubated at a steady 28 °C (82 °F). When the eggs start to hatch, instinct causes the female to leave the nest and find prey to eat so she does not eat her young. The baby king cobras, with an average length of 45 to 55 cm (18 to 22 in), have venom which is as potent as that of the adults. They may be brightly marked, but these colours often fade as they mature. They are alert and nervous, being highly aggressive if disturbed.”

CONSERVATION STATUS

The IUCN Red List publishes information about the conservation status of reptiles across the globe. Here is what they had to say about King Cobras:

Ophiophagus hannah has been assessed as Vulnerable. This species has a wide distribution range, however, it is not common in any area in which it occurs (with the apparent exception of Thailand, and there only in forested areas), is very rare in much of its range, and has experienced local population declines of over 80% over 10 years in parts of its range. Pressure on this species from both habitat loss and exploitation are high throughout this snake’s range, and while no quantitative population data is available, it can be conservatively estimated that the population size has declined globally by at least 30% over an estimated three-generation period of 15-18 years. More detailed population monitoring in the more poorly-known parts of this snake’s range may reveal that this is a conservative estimate.

I mentioned earlier having seen many dozens of king cobras run through the snake show here in our local area. That is just one King Cobra Show out of perhaps a dozen in the country. If every show caught and disposed of 50 king cobras annually, that’s 600 adult king cobras yearly that are being depleted from the forests just here in Thailand. Kings mate once per year and their eggs are highly vulnerable to predators like monitors, other snakes, rats, and weather phenomena like high humidity and monsoon rains. Kings lay eggs just before the rains start.

My best guess is that king cobras are disappearing from the wild at a frightening rate. We only mentioned snake shows here, but what about all the king cobras that are found and killed across southeast Asia for food, or out of fear? There must be hundreds more, perhaps thousands per year more that are killed by people that come across them.

I hope the IUCN Red List updates their listing for Ophiophagus hannah and assigns a label more serious than “Vulnerable.” Something drastic is needed to save the country of Thailand’s wild king cobras before they disappear like they did in Penang, Malaysia.

CLASSIFICATION

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Ophiophagus
Species: O. hannah

Three King Cobras in Thailand
Notice the light chevron across the back of the mid-body (right) ? Until the King flares his hood you can tell it’s a king by those bands. In addition, the head is very distinctive, and large compared to any other snake except a Python.

The kings in these photos are all beat up from bashing their faces against the cages at a snake show in Thailand. In the wild they are so beautiful… majestic, amazing snakes. I was so glad to see my first one  in the wild. Even better to interact with it. Gotta love Thailand!

King Cobra's forked tongue is purple, red, and black.
King Cobra’s colorful tongue

An adult king cobra showing classic threat response, hooding and preparing to strike as it senses danger. Large adult king cobra showing hood and round pupils

This page is focused on King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) snakes because their demise is imminent here in Thailand, and already in most countries they are not found in near the numbers they once were. On the island of Penang in Malaysia, it is said that kings can only be found very occasionally on the mountain. They used to be common. I was lucky enough to see one there on a very steep section of the hill while descending. It was three to four meters long and much thicker than my forearm. It was in the underbrush, moving slowly, perhaps thinking it was unobserved. That was two years ago, and maybe that snake has been a meal for someone by now. It’s entirely possible.

In Thailand I’ve watched just one snake show take over fifty king cobras each year out of the wild. They ‘rescue’ them from homes, yards, businesses, gardens, and farms. The kings spend a couple weeks or months rubbing their faces raw and bleeding against the fence trying desperately to escape. Some of them are put in the king cobra show – where they are teased mercilessly three to ten times each day for tourists that are interested in seeing snakes, but don’t really understand the state of the kings that are held there.

I cannot imagine that king cobras as a species have more than another few years of existence in Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Laos, Singapore, and Taiwan. The IUCN Red List site lists king cobras as ‘Vulnerable.” Kings are being collected and sold in great numbers to buyers in Bangkok who cook them up as a meal, or send them on to China for the same purpose.

It wasn’t long ago that the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm – “The Red Cross Snake Farm” in Bangkok was ‘broken into’ and something like seventy king cobras were ‘stolen.’ Hmm, wonder where they went. Seventy king cobras had to fetch a nice price, I’d think. Tens of thousands of US Dollars – easy. Not accusing, it’s just a very sad state of reality for these and other snakes poached for their skin, blood, bile ducts, tongues, and meat.

So this page will be a collection of all the best information I can source about my favorite species of snake, King Cobra – Ophiophagus hannah. If you have some article, book, documentary, photo, video, or other bit of information you’d like to see listed here, just write via the contact form at this link. It is found under the HOME menu at the top of all pages.

 

Video of a King Cobra breathing – Listen – You Can Hear It:

Update 7/20/2016 – I’ve seen a number of king cobras in the wild now over the years. Four of them have been hundreds of meters high on mountains. Many snake enthusiasts want to come to Thailand to see king cobras, and I have to tell them… the chance of seeing one is slight. I’ve lived in Thailand for ten years and I’ve seen only a handful, and I’m in the rainforest often. Your best bet is to come to the country and stay for a couple of months. Stay at PhanomBenchaMountainResort.com in a bungalow, and hike during the days around there. That’s my best advice. Your chance at seeing a king cobra is not high – you would probably need weeks of walking around during the day to see one. It’s all luck!

Thais are a bit crazy about cobras – it is the most easily recognized snake, and though I have met few people that can identify other snakes, most know what a cobra looks like. There are even amulet necklaces of cobras!

 

 

Red Necked Keelback Caught on a Night Herping Trip

Just a pic – wanted to share this Thailand snake before I forgot….

Rhabdophis subminiatus, Red-necked keelback. Venomous and dangerous.

A boy, 12 yrs old, in Phuket, Thailand was in the Bangkok hospital for 2 weeks after a bite from this snake. The venom specifically attacks the kidneys.

Once thought to be harmless – these snakes are now considered dangerous. Don’t have one as a pet…

Rhabdophis subminiatus, Red-necked keelback snake from southern Thailand
Beautiful and dangerous…

One WHO (World Health Organization) publication about the management of venomous snake bites in Southeast Asia mentions the antivenin for Rhabdophis tigrinus in Japan as having some effect on the venom of R. subminiatus. I am not sure if this is strictly for R. subminiatus found in Japan, or not. Worth a try though if you can get them to send you some antivenin. Otherwise, there is no other option – there is no monovalent antivenin specifically for R. subminiatus.

Japan Snake Institute
Nihon Hebizoku Gakujutsu Kenkyujo
3318 Yunoiri Yabuzuka
Yabuzukahonmachi Nittagun Gunmaken 379-2301
Tel 0277 785193 Fax 0277 785520
[email protected]
www.sunfield.ne.jp/~snake-c/
Yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus) antivenom. Also effective against rednecked keelback (R. subminiatus venom)

Red Necked Keelback – Venomous – Dangerous

Red Necked Keelback Snake, venomous, Thailand and southeast Asia.
A beautiful snake, usually under 1 meter, not very aggressive. ©2009 ThailandSnakes.com.

(Page Updated: 6 September 2016)

Rhabdophis subminiatus (Red-Necked Keelback Snake)

Thai: (ngoo lay sab ko dang)

Length: Up to 130 cm (1.3 meters). Usually under 1 meter.

Range: Thailand and southeast Asia.

Notes: These snakes are commonly found near water, lakes, ponds, and in gardens. Recently a friend had one in his swimming pool in Krabi town, southern Thailand.

Active Time? Daylight hours. I’ve found them sleeping around 1 foot off the ground in bushes.

Food: Frogs, poisonous Bufo toads, and fish. I have not seen them eat anything but frogs and toads.

Defensive Behavior: Spread out the neck slightly to make themselves appear bigger. Not as dramatic as a cobra. Lift their head and neck off the ground 4-5 inches.

Some snakes of this species, and others in the genus Rhabdophis, have displayed a rather unique defensive behavior of exposing the back of their neck and secreting poison from their nuchal glands. This is not all that common.

One researcher, Kevin Messenger, claims that the R. subminiatus helleri he caught in Hong Kong actually sprayed a mist of the poison into the air from the back of the neck. Quite amazing, if true, right? Obviously more study is needed into the secret life of this fascinating snake. Other snakes in Rhabdophis genus with nuchal glands: R. nuchalis, R. tigrinus, R. nigrocinctus, and R. chrysargos (in Thailand).

Here is an image of the snake expressing poison from the nuchal glands.

Nuchal gland poison from Rhabdophis subminiatus helleri
The liquid on the neck near the top of the red shade is poison acquired at least in part, from eating poisonous Bufo toads.

Here is the description in a scientific journal about Kevin’s encounter.

Venom Toxicity: LD50 is 1.29 mg/kg for intravenous injection (source). That is about the same rating as the very deadly “Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus)”. It was previously thought these snakes were harmless. Some kept them as pets and were bitten. In one case the snake was left to bite for two entire minutes before removing it from a finger.

Serious complications resulted requiring hospitalization and intensive care. Click for article. These snakes are rear-fanged and need to bite and hold on, or, repeatedly bite to have any effect on humans. Once they do either – there is the possibility of severe problems including renal failure and death. Recently a small boy of 12 years old was bitten by one he was keeping as a pet in Phuket, Thailand and he is currently being treated (11/5/10). Be very careful not be be bitten by these snakes. There is NO ANTIVENIN available yet for these snakes in Thailand. Scroll down for information about antivenin manufactured in Japan that may have some positive effect.

Another study in Japan ranked the venom as having an LD50 of 1.25 mg/kg for intravenous injection. (Japan Snake Institute, Hon-machi, Yabuzuka, Nitta-gun, Gunma-ken, Japan) V.1- 1969- Volume(issue)

In Japan they make limited amounts of antivenin, but it is specifically for their in-country use.

One WHO (World Health Organization) publication about the management of venomous snake bites in Southeast Asia mentions the antivenin for Rhabdophis tigrinus in Japan as having some effect on the venom of R. subminiatus. I am not sure if this is strictly for R. subminiatus found in Japan, or not. Worth a try though if you can get them to send you some antivenin. Otherwise, there is no other option – there is no monovalent antivenin specifically for R. subminiatus.

Japan Snake Institute
Nihon Hebizoku Gakujutsu Kenkyujo
3318 Yunoiri Yabuzuka
Yabuzukahonmachi Nittagun Gunmaken 379-2301
Tel 0277 785193 Fax 0277 785520
[email protected]
www.sunfield.ne.jp/~snake-c/
Yamakagashi (Rhabdophis tigrinus) antivenom. Also effective against rednecked keelback (R. subminiatus venom)

Update: The 12 year old boy bitten by the Rhabdophis subminiatus was treated for 2 weeks of intensive care, and released. He was bitten multiple times, the 2nd bite lasting over 20 seconds.

Offspring: I had a juvenile red-necked keelback I’ve taken photos and videos of and released into the wild. I cannot find anything much about offspring. Recently (mid-June) I found a DOR juvenile very recently hatched, so like most snakes in Thailand the time around June is when they are hatching out. The coloration of the juvenile is quite different from adults as you can see in the photo and video below.

Rhabdophis subminiatus Juvenile
A hint of red on the neck in the juvenile. A pronounced black banding at the neck and grey on the head is evident in juveniles.

Notes: These snakes can inflict a deadly bite when they are allowed to bite for longer than a couple of seconds. I know personally of two instances where a child was bitten for well over 20 seconds, and a man was bitten for about a minute. Neither wanted to hurt the snake to remove it forcibly, and both spent over a week in intensive care, with the possibility of renal failure and death. Do not play with these snakes. If you have one, do not free-handle it. Treat it like you would a pit viper or a cobra. The LD50 on this snake for intravenous was stated to be 1.29 mg/kg. That is VERY venomous.

As a precaution, any snake in the Rhabdophis genus should be treated with extreme caution. In Thailand we also have the diurnal Rhabdophis nigrocinctus, and Rhabdophis chrysargos, both of which may be able to inflict a medically significant bite if given the opportunity.

Red-necked Keelback Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Rhabdophis
Species: Rhabdophis subminiatus

Video – Red-necked Keelback

Video – Red Neck Keelback Snake ( <- click) video

Video – R. subminiatus I Released Into the Wild

Common Snakes Frequently Found in Thailand

Common Thailand Snakes

When visiting Thailand on vacation or for a long-term stay there are certain snakes you are likely to see and others that you will probably never see, even if you’re looking very hard to find them. On this page is a small selection of common (frequently found) snakes in Thailand. If you want a FREE EBOOK of COMMON THAILAND SNAKES – CLICK HERE.

Non-Venomous and Mildly Venomous and Harmless Snakes

Green Cat Snake - Southern Thailand

Green Cat Snake (Boiga cyanea) This snake is almost 2 meters long when fully grown, and resembling the vipers – except it’s too long to be a viper. Be very careful with any green snake as there are many vipers with strong venom that are green and look very similar to this one. Vipers typically have brown colored tails. This snake has a solid green tail. This Green Cat Snake is harmless, and didn’t even try to bite as I interacted with it.


Juvenile Indo-Chinese rat snake from Thailand - common and harmless.
Indo-Chinese rat snake (Ptyas korros) juvenile. Harmless. When adult these snakes are either brown or black.

One rat snake – Ptyas korros, is especially common, but the adult does look very much like the monocled cobras to the untrained eye. Do be very cautious of any snake that is solid brown, grey, black, or that is mostly dark with some white spots – speckles or odd pattern. Cobras are quick to bite and one of the most deadly daylight snakes you’ll encounter (photo below).


Thailand Snake - Red Tailed Racer, Gonyosoma oxycephalum
Found often in southern Thailand – the Red Tailed Racer, Gonyosoma oxycephalum.

Red-tailed Racer (Gonyosoma oxycephalum) This is a fairly large rat snake reaching around 2.1 meters in length. It has no fangs to deliver venom, and can be considered harmless for humans. It does bite, of course, so stay out of reach. This is an incredibly beautiful snake with green hues, blue-green eyes, and black and blue tongue. Stunning!


Radiated Rat Snake - Copperhead Racer

Radiated Rat Snake / Copper-headed Racer (Coelognathus radiata) – These are very common and may even qualify as one of the most commonly seen snakes in Thailand. Non-venomous and not dangerous, except they are big biters. Many small teeth. A bite can hurt and get infected because the teeth easily break off inside the skin. Color hue ranges from yellow to brown, There is another snake that looks very similar – the “Malayan Racer” which is very dark brown with a slightly different pattern (Coelognathus flavolineatus).


Yellow Spotted Keelback from Southern Thailand

Keelback Snakes – Keelbacks are very common ground snakes and love water. You might see them in the water or on the ground moving around. Keelbacks are generally easily identified by distinct black (dark) lines from the eye area toward the jaw. Most keelbacks in Thailand are not very dangerous, but there are a couple in the “Rhabdophis” genus that are to be considered dangerous and potentially capable of a deadly bite. We have one featured in the venomous section below.


Golden Tree Snake - Southern Thailand

Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata) A very common tree snake across Thailand, and their favorite food appears to be Tokay Geckos (Gekko gecko), so you may see one at your home. These snakes have a mild venom that doesn’t generally affect humans at all. These snakes do traverse across the ground but quickly find a tree when threatened. Masterful and very fast climbers! Common in homes, garages, and other structures.


Thailand Bronzeback Snake Strikes

Bronzeback Snakes – also incredibly adept and fast climbers, I first saw one as it came over my six-foot concrete wall in the back of the house in Surat Thani. Very thin snakes, not that afraid of humans. This snake bites quickly – as you might guess from the photo. To be honest, I’m holding the tail so I can get a good photo before it quickly disappears. Mildly venomous colubrids, and not dangerous to humans. There are many species of this snake, all look vaguely similar.


Oriental Whip Snake - Southern Thailand

Oriental Whip Snakes (Ahaetulla prasina) A very common snake, and usually found in trees, but the last two I found were on the ground probably hunting lizards or frogs. The bright fluorescent greens in this snake are awesome, yes? These have a mild venom, but again, no serious results of envenomation have occurred in humans. Other color variations: yellow, very light green (A. mycterizans), grey, brown.


Venomous and Deadly Common Snakes

Malayan Pit Viper - Southern Thailand Venomous and Deadly Snake

Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) A very dangerous pit viper with strong necrotoxic venom which is potentially deadly. This common brown pit viper is the cause of death for more people in Thailand than any other snake. It bites quickly and is lazy to get out of the way if you’re walking toward it, usually it just lays still. Always found at ground level, and often on top of, or just under leaves. Maximum length – about 1 meter long.


Monocled Cobra - adult. Potentially deadly bites, necrotoxic and neurotoxic venom makes this snake especially dangerous. One of Thailand's most dangerous snakes.
Monocled cobra – deadly and common across most of Thailand. These are black or brown colored snakes which flatten the neck into a hood. Their venom is very strong. Don’t try to catch or kill this cobra by yourself. Some cobras can spray venom 2-3 meters into your eyes.

Monocled Cobras. Be especially careful of cobra snakes which can spit venom 2-3 meters away (farther with a strong wind!). They can temporarily blind you as they make their getaway, but the problem is your eyes will be burning until you can flush them with water for 10-20 minutes, and visit the hospital to ensure they are properly cleaned. Photo above (click to enlarge) is of the Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia)


Red Neck Keelback Snake - Southern Thailand
Red-necked keelbacks prefer low vegetation around water. Though they are not big biters, and flee at every opportunity, they have a potentially deadly bite.
Red necked keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) is now classified as a deadly venomous snake.
Red Necked keelback – do not keep as a pet – bites can cause serious kidney damage, even death.

Red-necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus) Brightly colored snakes that become more so when agitated. These brightly colored snakes are found in captivity across the globe. They were previously considered non-venomous and not dangerous until recently. Death has occurred as a direct result of envenomation from this species, though not in Thailand. In Thailand we have had a number of close calls. Renal failure after bites is one of the possible potentially deadly outcomes.


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

Malayan Krait. Kraits are snakes active by night for the most part. The Banded Krait and the Malayan or “Blue” krait are both deadly snakes – the former with yellow and black bands about the same thickness, and the latter with black and white bands, the black bands are thicker near the neck, and more evenly spaced farther down on the tail.


Small-spotted coral snake from Southern Thailand, Krabi province. (Calliophis maculiceps)
Dangerous and potentially deadly, this small snake looks harmless enough. The Small-spotted Coral Snake (Calliophis maculiceps).

Small-spotted Coral. There is one coral snake worth mentioning, not because it’s all that common, but because it tends to be around the gardens – even in potted plants. This is the “Small-spotted Coral Snake.” It is very small – around 35cm as an adult, and it looks harmless enough. It should be considered dangerous – deadly.

Page Updated: 6 September 2016

Brahminy Blind Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Non venomous, burrowing snake native to southeast asia. Brahminy Blind snake is parthenogetic - can spawn young without males.
Brahminy Blind Snake – non venomous, burrowing snake native to southeast asia. Brahminy Blind snakes are parthenogetic – can spawn young without males.

VERY COMMON non-venomous snakes which are in nearly every country across the world. It is a myth that these snakes are venomous and deadly. Here in Thailand it is a pervasive myth.

These snakes resemble thin black worms in Thailand. They have a lot of energy when you pick one up. You will likely find them in soil in your potted plants or climbing up through your drain in your restroom.

Brahminy Blind Snakes are completely harmless.

(Page Updated: 7 September 2016)

Ramphotyphlops braminus (Brahminy Blind Snake)

Thai: (ngoo din ban)

Length: Up to about 6 inches (15cm)

Range: All over Thailand and much of the world, native to Southeast Asia. Transported across the world in potted plants.

Notes: These are ground dwelling and burrowing snakes. They are shy. They are easily eaten by many other predators like birds, monitors, and other snakes. The Red Tailed Pipe snake eats these snakes often. The blind snakes have very small eyes covered with a thin skin that protects them as they burrow through the dirt.

Many people have this tiny black snake come up through the pipes into their homes. We found dozens of them in our home, having come through the shower drain. They are completely harmless and yet there are rumors across the world that these are deadly snakes capable of killing humans with one bite. It is completely false. Do not kill these snakes, they are beneficial to the environment – they eat termite and ant eggs.

Active Time? Anytime. I have found them at night and daylight – under leaves or other litter on damp ground, and of course crawling up through our drains.

Food: Ant and termite eggs primarily.

Defensive Behavior: Flip around craziliy and will attempt to flee. The mouth is too small to inflict a bite on humans, and I have never seen one of these small snakes attempt to bite.

Venom Toxicity: No venom or means to inject it.

Offspring: An interesting twist here. Brahminy Blind snakes are all born female and need no males to continue the species (parthenogenic). They are parthenogenetic. When they reach sexual maturity they lay fertile eggs – and hence, are fully self-perpetuating the species. If there is one – soon there will be more! These snakes have populated much of the western world and can be found in Thailand, India, Hawaii, Louisianna, Boston, and other places in the USA and across the globe now.

My Brahminy Blind Snake Video 1:

Blind Snake Video 2:

Brahminy Blind Snake Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Typhlopidae
Genus: Ramphotyphlops
Species: R. braminus

Binomial classification:
Ramphotyphlops braminus

Malayan Krait – Blue Krait – Venomous – Deadly

The Malayan Krait, also called Blue Krait, is a deadly Thailand snake with highly toxic venom.
Malayan Krait – or, Blue Krait – Venomous – Deadly

Malayan Krait (Blue Krait) – Venomous and Deadly

One of the top 10 most toxic terrestrial venomous snakes in the world resides in Thailand, and it is second behind the Bungarus multicinctus in strength of venom, according to LD50 charts for subcutaneous venom injection (in mice), is the Malayan Krait, also called the Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus).

I’ve been looking for one of these snakes in the wild for a couple of years. I don’t herp at night all that much so it was really unlikely that I saw one for a bit of time – but I was due to see this one.

Update 2015 – I’ve seen around one dozen of these snakes. They seem to be active most from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. cruising the ground along sidewalks or rocks. They are not big biters, and I’ve only seen one bite the tongs as I picked it up. These are relatively common snakes in Krabi province.

Here’s the story I put on Youtube about how it came to be that I caught this beautiful krait…

****
This is the mack daddy of all snakes in Thailand, for me. I’ve seen king cobras in the wild. I’ve caught monocled cobras and maybe 30 other kinds of snake. Last night I hit the jackpot by catching the lovely Malayan Krait – the black / white banded snake you see in the video.

I was herping with a guy from the UK, Michael. He found a red-necked keelback about 30 minutes before. We were herping HARD all over this great wildlife area and I was fully prepared to find nothing more. It was hard herping.

I stopped on the sidewalk for a second and was shining my flashlight (9pm) on the greenery just below the sidewalk (and next to it).

I couldn’t mistake the black/white pattern as the blue krait moved just inches from Michael’s feet.

I said loudly – KRAIT KRAIT! Move back, move over here!

My first instinct, before I opened my mouth was to grab that sucker with the tongs and bag him.

As I moved to do that I realized Michael might get a good bite!

It was funny to see in hindsight how my mind worked. I’m glad I thought of him – right? You know how you get so excited you just act? That’s jsut about where I was. I’d looked for years and years for one of these kraits. Finally there it was – 1 foot from me, and I had all the equipment I needed to catch it if I was fast enough…

Anyway – after he moved a safe bit away I gave the initial squeeze with the tongs and pulled it up where we could see it. It was a beauty. I held it for a while as Michael searched through my backback for the snake bag. The krait got loose because I didn’t want to squeeze too hard… I found the bag – and re-found the krait who was already half under a large rock that I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to.

I slowly pulled it out with the tongs and we bagged it.

Today we took this video in the morning.

She was calm… slow for a bit, then woke RIGHT up. You don’t want to miss this video if you handle or plan on handling kraits. They do have the potential to move VERY fast in whatever direction they choose. I was shocked (horrified!) that it came right at me in an instant.

I never felt as alive as in those few seconds, I can tell you truthfully.
Though we tailed it – and were able to handle the krait a little bit – I never felt comfortable with it – and would never hold one, day or night. Least of all night-time.

So – that’s the story.

More info on Bungarus candidus here.

Come to Thailand and herp – and see what we can find!
******

The video is below. You don’t want to miss the video because just after I say something like, “This snake kills a few people a year in Thailand” the krait comes at me totally unexpectedly and I freak out trying to move my feet out of the way and get back. Just by pure luck I filmed it coming at me.

That was one of the scariest moments of my life – and yet my body still reacted to get out of the way. It was totally unexpected – and yet I was able to move fast enough. I don’t know whether it would have bitten me, but I don’t see why not. We had aggravated it for a good 20 minutes and it was probably getting angrier as time went on.

If you work with kraits – don’t be lulled into the false sense of control that you don’t have. The krait can, at any time, turn one of your best days into the worst day of your life. There are rumors that if this krait or the many-banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus) bit you, and you went to the hospital – 50% chance you will STILL die from the venom.  Not sure if that’s true – but, still – there are plenty of experts saying that, and it’s damn strong, and nothing to mess with.

Please don’t hand-hold the kraits – ever.

Check out my youtube video pages at

Thailand Snakes – http://www.youtube.com/user/thailandsnakes

and

Thailand Living – http://www.youtube.com/Thailand-Living

More info on Bungarus candidus here.

Cheers!

*********

My “Thailand Snakes” Video Channel on the Malayan Krait at Youtube:

Juvenile Blue (Malayan) Krait:

An Adult Malayan Krait at Night in Southern Thailand:

Red Tailed Pipe Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

A Non-venomous Red-tailed Pip Snake (Cylindrophis ruffus) found in Southern Thailand during one of our herping field trips to look for snakes.
A Non-venomous Red-tailed Pip Snake (Cylindrophis ruffus) found in Southern Thailand during one of our herping field trips to look for snakes.
Red Tailed Pipe Snake from Thailand
Red Tailed Pipe Snake – non venomous – small. The white – black pattern of half stripes is the belly. The top is completely black in adults and has some banding on the lateral sides in either white or some shade of red.

Page Updated: 5 September 2016

The red-tailed pipe snake is a beautiful snake, though at first glance you might wonder if it is a snake at all! It has a very flat appearance for the tail region, and very black on the top. The head is so small you might think it’s a large fat worm. The eyes are very small. This snake spends a lot of time in the dirt looking for grubs, maggots, and very small larvae and things.

Cylindrophis ruffus ruffus (Red Tailed Pipe Snake)

Thais say: (ngoo kon kob)

Length: max about .9 meters (90 cm, 35.5 inches)

Range: All over Thailand on flat ground and at some elevation up to 1700 meters.

Notes: I had one of these red-tailed pipe snakes at my home to photograph and shoot video of for two days. They are beautiful snakes. Their top is black and has a radiance like a sunbeam snake – you know that rainbow appearance when the sunlight hits it? Beautiful. Then, on the underside the bands of black and white don’t line up – so it’s very different. The bands will turn red and black as the juvenile red tailed pipe snake ages. The head is very small and the eyes – almost impossible to see.

I’ve found these pipe snakes in the fine mesh of roots growing into the water of streams, and also in leaf litter on mud bordering streams. Around my home in Krabi Town I have found dozens dead on the road in the morning time – especially after rains.

Habitat: The snake lives on the ground and in rat holes and termite mounds, under stumps or rocks and in other cool, damp places.

Active Time? The snake is mostly nocturnal and is active at night.

Food: Brahminy blind snakes, insect larvae, small frogs and worms.

Defensive Behavior: This pipe snake hides the head under loops of it’s body and flips it’s red tail end up in the air – flattening it – as if like a cobra. Thais call this the 2-head snake because it wants you to think it has two. In an hour of handling this snake, it made no move to bite at all. That doesn’t mean it won’t, but they are not all that inclined to bite. Their mouth is VERY small and they’d have to catch you just right to bite you.

Venom Toxicity: None that affects humans.

Offspring: This snake has 5-10 young, born live, about 20 cm long (about 8 inches).

Red Tailed Pipe Snake’s Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Cylindrophiidae
Genus: Cylindrophis
Species: C. ruffus

Binomial name
Cylindrophis ruffus
Classified by Laurenti in year 1768

Belly and Tail of Red Tailed Pipe Snake native to Thailand
Belly side.
Top of Red Tailed Pipe Snake in Thailand
The top of this snake is completely black and patternless. The body is relatively flat shaped, and can be made very flat when it chooses.

Red Tailed Pipe Snake video:

Here is Fred, one of our interns, showing a Red-tailed Pipe Snake he found on one of our field trips:

Laotian Wolf Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Laotian Wolf Snake (Lycodon Laoensis) Native to Thailand
Laotian Wolf Snake. Less than a meter long, non-venomous, but quick to bite. These snakes are common all over Thailand.

When I say the “Laotian Wolf Snake” is “not dangerous” I mean, it’s not going to kill you or send you to the intensive care unit of a Thailand hospital. But, though this snake isn’t venomous it does have a biting problem. It bites very fast because it’s small and thin – and doesn’t give much warning when it strikes – unlike some other snakes – mangrove snakes, or monocled cobras.

Caution: There is another, highly venomous – and deadly, snake that looks similar to this harmless wolf snake. It is the yellow Banded Krait. It has thick yellow and black bands, and can grow to about 2 meters long. See this krait page >

There is another snake that you might think resembles this one. It’s called a mangrove snake. This is a type of cat snake, and it has some venom, and bites hard and deep. Here is video: Mangrove snake striking.

Lycodon laoensis (Laotian Wolf Snake)

Thai: (ngoo plong chanwan lao, or ngoo kan plong)

Length: Up to about .5 meters (50 cm, or 19 inches).

Range: All over Thailand (and Laos!).

Notes: These are ground dwelling snakes. They are rather shy and like to hide under things. They are easily eaten by predators because they have no strong defense (venom). Laotian Wolf Snakes prefer mountains and hilly regions but also can be found close to dwellings at times.

Active Time? Night & evenings cruising through leaf litter or just sitting on a porch curled up and waiting for a gecko to walk by.

Food: Small insects, frogs, small geckos.

Defensive Behavior: Pretty calm until they are scared or angry. They bite fast, and repeatedly. Their mouth is very small so you wouldn’t end up with much of a bite, but be cautious anyway.

Venom Toxicity: No venom that affects humans. But, as with any bite, if you’re bitten and it affects you – get to the hospital. You may be allergic to it.

Offspring:

Laotian Wolf Snake classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Lycodon
Species: L. laoensis

Binomial classification: Lycodon laoensis

Laotian Wolf Snake video:

If you were looking for snakes of Laos – try this report of snakes found during field-herping trips in Laos.