Tag Archives: Thailand snake

Thailand Snake Journal: Unexpected Viper Find

Trimeresurus venustus - Brown Spotted Green Pit Viper - Krabi, Thailand
Trimeresurus venustus - Brown Spotted Green Pit Viper - Krabi, Thailand

I tend to be really cautious about handling venomous snakes. Pit vipers are scary because you just never know when they’re going to strike. They’re very calm until WHAM a strike from nowhere. I think as soon as they get a good lock on the part of your body giving off heat – it’s almost an automatic strike. I’m not sure they decide anything at all – just strike like lightening. I never handhold the pit vipers.

I headed up to a remote part of the wat (temple) today to see if maybe I could spot a snake. So far at that temple I’ve found a Rhabdophis subminiatus – Red Necked Keelback, a Painted Bronzeback, a 4 meter King Cobra, a Mock Viper, and a brown Keelback. Oh and a green Ahaetulla prasina – Oriental Whip Snake.

There has been a lot of rain lately and the day was really hot – which is a change from the cooler temps of late, so I thought I’d see what I might find. I walked the 90 steps up and 100+ down into the valley – the foothills, and started along the path. There was some loud noise to my right. I walked over there to find a skinny Thai guy – probably a bit mental, or hungry, trying to kill a big box tortoise. He had a snake in his left hand – I was like WTF?

That’s a VIPER. I said to him – Ngoo Pit (snake is venomous!).

He insisted – Mai Pit! (not venomous) over and over… I said, “Gep Ngoo, ROO JACK – NGOO NEE – PIT!” Translated – I collect snakes, I KNOW THIS SNAKE IS VENOMOUS.

He puts the snake up to his face and cheek, where it bites him on the cheek. I think – what an idiot!

I say – “Can I have that snake?” (in Thai of course).

He said OK. I offered to pay him for it – he said – 100 Thai Baht. I said – great. I took the snake into a plastic bag and put it in my backpack, telling the guy to get to a hospital when he feels symptoms. He showed me on his hand where it bit him earlier when first trying to catch it and he was bleeding slightly.

Though they are venomous – it affects people differently. They are potentially deadly. He’ll definitely experience pain, and hopefully little necrosis.

What a crazy thing to see a reptile hunter collecting snakes and turtles at a Buddhist wat. It was a very sad thing to see him trying to kill the turtle for no reason. Probably the shell is worth something. Many Thais eat turtles too – but I think mostly the soft-shelled water turtles.

So – I have a Trimeresurus venustus – Gernot Vogel from Terralog “Venomous Snakes of Asia” uses the Trimeresurus prefix. Joachim Bullian uses “Cryptelytrops” instead. Not sure what the real label is. “Venustus” is correct anyway.

Brown Spotted Green Pit Viper is the common name for it. They enjoy limestone areas and are frequently found on the ground according to Bullian – but, I’ve found them in bushes during the day – sleeping.

They are very slow during the day – and not all that much quicker at night. I took this one home and put it in the tank. It appears to be gravid – hope she is able to give birth (ovoviviparous) soon. That’d be awesome to see.

The Deadly Snake Hardest to Identify in Thailand? Krait.

Malayan Krait, or Blue Krait found in Thailand - a very deadly snake

The Malayan Krait (Bungarus candidus), or the Blue Krait as it’s sometimes called, is difficult to identify, and identifying it is essential because their venom is so deadly. Their venom paralyzes the nervous system and causes the muscles of the body to stop. That means the heart and diaphragm. You’ll need to be on a ventilator to stay alive after a krait bite.

Maybe the hardest to identify deadly snake that you should be aware of is an albino cobra, krait, coral snake, or Malayan pit viper. Albino snakes are not common, but, keep in mind that any white snake that bites you could be quite deadly and you’ll want to get to the hospital immediately. If easy to kill the snake – do so. Don’t risk being bitten again. Take a digital photo of it, or a few – would be better.

The photo above is the Malayan Krait. The photos below are snakes that are completely harmless. Keep in mind that Malayan Krait babies look just like these smaller innocuous snakes.

Thailand Snake Note – If Bitten by Snake?

If you are bitten by a snake in Thailand it’s a good idea to immediately wrap an elastic bandage, shirt, whatever you have directly on top of the wound, and if the wrap is long enough – continue to wrap above and below the wound as well.

Get to a hospital. DON’T READ THE REST OF THIS  –  GO NOW.

There are more than 60 species of venomous snake in Thailand. Some are quite deadly. Most, rather harmless. The ones you generally have to look out for are:

  • King Cobra
  • Monocled Cobra
  • Equatorial Spitting Cobras
  • Indochinese Spitting Cobras
  • Malayan Kraits
  • Malayan Pit Vipers
  • All Pit Vipers
  • Russel’s Viper

I may have forgotten some, but I just wanted to list those that you are most likely to be bitten by – and be in serious trouble. These are the deadly snakes. More than likely you’d be bitten by either of two – the Russell’s Viper and the Malayan Pit Viper, both very common and both quite deadly if not treated immediately.

So, DON’T READ ANOTHER WORD  – GET TO THE HOSPITAL NOW.

Steps to treating snake bite in Thailand (click)

Yellow Spotted Keelback – Venomous – Not Dangerous

These yellow-spotted keelback (Xenochropis flavipunctatus) snakes are rear-fanged and do have venom, however there are no reported deaths from them. The snake would need to bite hard and chew the venom into wound for a minute or so in order to really envenomate a human. Not many humans are willing to let a strong biting snake do that. Don’t you be the first!

Yellow Spotted Keelback Snake - Thailand
Yellow Spotted Keelback Snake - Thailand. Fast moving, not very dangerous, does bite, does have venom. Xenochropis flavipunctatus