Here is some general information about snakes in Thailand to put your mind at ease about the danger of venomous snakes in the country.
There is little to be afraid of if you are coming to visit Thailand for a few days, even a month. You are not likely to see any snakes at all unless you are out specifically looking for them. Even then, sometimes when I go looking, I don’t find any snakes after hours of looking. A friend just north of me in Hua Hin told me that he and another two guys just went out for 6 hours the other night and found nothing. That is the way it goes sometimes.
The video below covers the reality of life in Thailand and whether you will see snakes, and what to do when you do see them.
Each area of the country is slightly different, but snakes exist all over Thailand. Just get used to that idea. Most snakes cannot harm you. All snakes prefer NOT to harm you. They just want to be left alone. They’re not social like puppies and kittens.
Watch this video for information about Thailand snakes in general. If you have any questions, just comment or write me an email. Cheers!
The oriental whip snake is a very common rear-fanged venomous snake found here in Thailand’s rain forests. You can find these snakes in the trees during the day, I have even seen them crossing my path twice on trips up a small local mountain in southern Thailand.
The beauty of these snakes is legendary. There are green, yellow, or grey phases of this snake, all of which are spellbindingly beautiful. The juvenile whip snakes are often brown or yellow.
Ahaetulla prasina (Oriental Whip snakes)
Thai Language: ngoo kee-ow hoo-uh jing joke pa
Length: Up to 190 cm. Girth: The body is finger thin, tapering to a very thin pencil-width neck. The head is spear-shaped and bright green.
Range: All over Thailand. The species ranges from India to China and throughout Southeast Asia.
Habitat: During the day you can find these snakes in trees and bushes usually. Occasionally they will be at ground level hunting frogs and small lizards. I have seen these snakes in all kinds of habitat, but usually in trees and leafy bushes. At night these snakes sleep in the same environment.
Active Time? Diurnal – active during the daylight hours.
Food: Frogs, small birds, small lizards.
Defensive Behavior: The oriental whip snake can spread its neck area to increase by double in size as a defensive technique designed to scare attackers. It is quite beautiful when either solid green or with the green, white and black checkered pattern displayed in full defensive posture. Sort of comical is what the snake does with its tongue when molested. It sticks the tongue out and holds it there for some seconds, or minutes.
Venom Toxicity: Weak. Although this is considered to be a rear-fanged and venomous snake it is not very dangerous to humans due to its non-aggressive nature and weak venom characteristics. The venom would need to be injected into the wound with time – with a chewing motion. Not many people bitten are going to let a snake hang off them for any amount of time. Some do, and they may have severe complications and require hospitalization.
Offspring: In Thailand, the Ahaetulla prasina can mate during either of two times. Usually between April and July, and then also between December and January. Gestation period: ~ 6 months. Number of births: 4-10. Lengths at birth of offspring: 400 – 500 mm.
Notes: These are wonderful little snakes to catch and let go. These snakes do not do well in captivity and many die within days of being kept in an enclosure. They are as beautiful as snakes get, but please resist the urge to capture one to keep as they are very sensitive and die easily.
We have not been bitten by these snakes, but in the wild when catching them they will attempt to strike at times. They are fast and have a short striking range. What is really amazing about these snakes is the way they effortlessly glide down a hill or through trees like on ice. They can climb extremely fast and disappear before you have a chance to grab them. See the video below!
These snakes are not often confused with other snakes here in Thailand because they are quite distinctive. Their head is long and to a fine point. They are very thin at the neck before the head unless they have flared up in defense.
Also known as mangrove viper, shore pit viper, Gray’s pit viper, purple-spotted pit viper, and shore pit viper. In the past (2004-2011) this snake was called Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus.
Thais Say: Ngoo pang ka
Length: Males grow to about 60 cm and females to 90 cm on average.
Habitat: Usually near water and very wet areas like mangroves along the ocean or brackish water. However, recently one was found on a sidewalk by a bungalow on the island of Koh Phi Phi in Krabi province, Thailand. They like stream banks with good cover – low lying plants that they can hide under. They also may like hilly habitat and have been found as high as 2,000 meters elevation in bamboo jungles. These snakes are found in high numbers on islands around Thailand. I have found this species in some abundance along the shore in mangroves in Krabi province.
Behavior: Diurnal and arboreal. These snakes are very easily agitated, and once they get going they are slow to calm down. Their strikes are very fast, but have a short reach. These are known by snake handlers to have a “bad temper.”
These Thailand pit vipers can have many color variations. They are usually like the photo above – greyish with a bit of purple in the coloring. Some are very purple. We’ve also seen a brownish toned mangrove pit viper with some yellow highlights. Now for our top photo we have a greenish toned viper. Obviously – color is highly variable in this species. Tom Charlton found black variations on Langkawi Island in Malaysia, and John Paul Foenander has also found dark, even black, specimens in Singapore.
Venom toxicity: Venomous and very toxic to humans. Though people have died as a result of bites from this snake, this is not usually the case. Symptoms – pain, severe swelling, bruising, blistering, and necrosis are more likely.
Here (it isn’t live any longer) is a study of treating a bite by this snake with T. albolabris antivenom from the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute with some success.
Treatment: Antivenin is indicated.
Antivenom Name – Green Pit Viper Antivenin (Code – SAsTRC01) Manufacturer: Thai Red Cross Society Phone: +66-2-252-0161, 0162, 0163, 0164 Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute 1871 Rama IV Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Thailand
Mangrove Pit Viper Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Order: Squamata Suborder: Serpentes Family: Viperidae Subfamily: Crotalinae Genus: Trimeresurus Species: T. purpureomaculatus
Classified as – Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus by Gray in year 1832.
Mangrove pit viper photo courtesy of, and full copyright by – Richard Richert. Thanks Richard!
I thought I’d write up a list of Thailand snakes I’ve caught – just to try to keep track. Here’s a list of both venomous and non-venomous snakes I’ve caught (through 4/2017).
Thailand Snakes I’ve Found:
NEW SPECIES! I found a new Oligodon species that has not been named.
NEW SPECIES! I found another snake that I think is a new species. It is similar to a keelback, but thinner, longer. It was yellow with a white ring around the neck, about 70 cm in length around 400 meters elevation.
I don’t count these, I have seen more species in addition those above.
60+ different snake species. Well, there are 150+ more out there – so I’d better get herping.
Just to make it crystal clear for those that need it. I catch the snakes and let them go in the same place I found them – in all cases except rescues where I am removing snakes from someone’s property, and they must be relocated. I release snakes I catch almost always within 24 hours. I release the snakes back to another suitable habitat.
If you want to come and find snakes in Thailand – give us an email:
We go primarily at night to herp for a couple reasons:
Just a quick rundown of last night’s herping activity here in Southern Thailand – Krabi province. I walked around for two hours last night between 8 pm. and 10 pm. and found quite a lot of wildlife active. The weather has been dry and hot (33°C max during daylight, and around 29°C at night at this time). No wind, and dry air – maybe 50% humidity.
This is the typical weather situation we have in February in southern Thailand. Dry air, hopefully, no wind, but there are plenty of windy days. Lots of kids fly kites in February here. Usually, February starts the hot days – 31C and hotter.
Malayan pit viper (C. rhodostoma) – male, 50 cm, on the move, actively hunting prey.
Malayan whip snake (A. mycterizans) – very light green 80 cm, sleeping on large leaves at 2 meters off ground.
Oriental whip snake (A. prasina) – light brown, sleeping on large leaves at 1 meter off ground.
5 Slow lorises – all in trees and ranging from 4 meters off the ground to 30 meters or more.
30+ Lizards – most or all were Forest crested lizards (C. emma), though one or two I couldn’t see well could have been A. mystaceous).
Stick Insect – about 4 inches long. Love these.
Tiny green bird shaped like a sphere – not bigger than a golf ball. Sleeping on a large-leafed plant 1 meter off the ground on a sloping hill with 30% grade. I think Nenad (from Serbia) calls these ‘ball birds.’
Numerous Spiders, Millipedes, Centipedes, Forest Scorpions mostly, but including one very small and a thin scorpion I believe from the genus Heterometrus.
2 Nightjars – these are birds of prey which feed on insects in the air or on the ground – grasshoppers, mosquitos, beetles, etc. I also saw a number of them flying around overhead.
I don’t typically take people herping in February, but there are exceptional days and weeks where we find a lot in spite of the typically slow season. Give me an email if you’re interested in going and I’ll let you know whether it’s worth it to book a tour, or not.
A lot of snake enthusiasts would like to go snake herping – or looking for snakes, but they’re not really sure what it’s all about. Here I’ll explain.
You book a number of days from someone offering herping trips (us). When you arrive we’ll meet you at your hotel and go from there for day 1. Day 1 might consist of a 30km ride out to a place we have found snakes in the past. A lot depends on the Thailand weather. Snakes love to come out during and after a rain. Reason is – the frogs and other wildlife are more abundant then. If it rains straight for 2-3 days, you won’t find many snakes out in that. But, if the weather turns sunny after a couple days of rain – bam, they’re out.
You can target certain snakes or snake family and we will create a custom itinerary for you based on the number of days you’re staying for.
Herping can be done in two primary ways:
Walking through the forest, along streams, up mountains, etc.
Driving around at night to find snakes crossing the road. It sounds almost ridiculous, but after rain this is an especially productive technique if you’re in the right area.
Usually, you’ll be walking and on your feet for a couple of hours at a time. There are always places we can stop and rest if you feel the need – the herping excursion goes according to what you need.
During the field herping you may be able to take photos right there where you find the snake, or, you might choose to bag it up and take it to another location for photos. The snake is then released in its natural environment. We don’t keep snakes. We cannot allow you to keep them either.
When you hire a guide to take you herping in Thailand, in our case anyway, we are not there to put on a show for you – you are the focus. The trip is focused on your experience. On occasion we might pick up a snake for you – but, it’s really all about you! We can tell you where to look and tell you some things about the snakes you find, of course.
Herping, even in Thailand, is a little bit like fishing in Florida. There are many varieties of snake out there. They are in some hard to reach places. If you want to make the effort to find them – chances are you will find some. If not, if you don’t turn over every snakey rock or board, you may not find enough snakes to make you happy. On occasion the weather is wrong and we will only find a couple of snakes. Sometimes, for no reason we can understand – we don’t find many snakes.
We hope that isn’t the case, of course, and we try every time we go out herping in the field to find snakes!
If you have any questions about setting up a herping trip in Thailand while you’re here – zap us an email at: email@example.com.
Length: Adults are just over 1 meter, but can reach near 2 meters.
Range: All over Thailand and most of Asia including: Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Western Malaysia, and Singapore.
Habitat: Anywhere rats and lizards exist in abundance. They aren’t found on hills or in mountains, usually just the low-lying areas and where people and garbage are.
Active Time? Diurnal – active during daylight hours.
Food: Rats and other rodents, frogs and lizards. Much prefer rats. These are primarily rodent eaters and they vary little from their diet because there are usually plenty of rats or other rodents available.
Defensive Behavior: Will flee very quickly if given the chance. If agitated, rat snakes bite quickly. Some of them will calm down enough that they can be free-handled without repetitive bites.
Venom Toxicity: No venom that is harmful to humans.
Offspring: Eggs which hatch in early to middle May in Krabi, Thailand.
Notes: These are very common snakes, and are seen a lot because they prefer to be active during the daylight hours. They have very large eyes, which would make one think they can see well at night as well. These snakes can be held without striking (see video below).
Ptyas korros can be silver, grey, or brown – orange looking in color. Scales on the posterior part of the body and on the tail often yellow and edged with black. Underbelly is light yellow. Juvenile Indochinese rat snakes have a transverse series of round whitish spots or narrow yellow transverse bars.
Ptyas korros Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Order: Squamata Suborder: Serpentes Family: Colubridae Genus: Ptyas Species: P. korros Binomial name: Ptyas korros (Classified by Schlegel in year 1837.)
My Indochinese Rat Snake Photos:
Another photo, showing same snake but darker exposure. It looks more brown toward the tail:
In Nakhon si Thammarat there is a zoo – and they’ve just successfully bred a very rare snake – the Thai Gold Python (Python molur bivittatus) – in captivity. There are 30 young pythons that will be distributed across the nation of Thailand.
The article (below) says- “The “gold Thai python” once lived in dry evergreen forests in Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Prachin Buri and Sa Kaew.”
Some are calling this a Burmese Python – unless there is another species that looks very similar.
I’ve never even heard of this phase of the Burmese python snake – apparently, they are quite rare.
There are a LOT of cool snakes in Nakhon Si Thammarat though – at the national park there. If you get a chance – head on over there after seeing Khao Sok – the ultimate wildlife park in Thailand for snakes, any kind of reptile, bird, or animals in the wild.
There are over 200 species of snakes in Thailand – come on a herping trip and see some!
I often receive email from people that are deathly afraid of venomous and other snakes in Thailand. Some people refuse to visit the country after finding a website like ThailandSnakes.com. They get the idea that snakes are rampant all over Thailand and that they are unavoidable. The truth is much different. You are not likely to see any snakes in Thailand during your visit. Even if you go looking for them, snakes are difficult to locate. The other night I went out for over three hours in the heart of snake country, and still didn’t find any snake.
Anyway, here is an email I just sent to someone to help allay fears of snakes in Thailand.
* * * * *
Snakes are really about the least harmful things you could ever come across for a couple of reasons…
1. They have no legs or arms. They are basically a long tail. They cannot move fast on the ground, I mean fast in comparison to humans. We can easily outrun any snake that exists.
2. Only the very large pythons in Thailand might target a human being as prey. Everything else gets away as fast as possible – even when confronted.
3. There are about 8 deaths per year due to venomous snake bite in Thailand. Probably every one of them are plantation workers that get bitten, apply some “magical salve” made of ground leaves and roots, and then, when they realize their foot or hand is gangrenous – go to the hospital too late. Occasionally a snake handler is bitten and dies – they tease the snakes mercilessly, day after day, and eventually a snake gets in a lucky bite.
4. You have to really piss snakes off before most of them will bite… or, be too close. So, don’t get close and don’t aggravate them.
I have never heard of a tourist, visitor, foreigner, being bitten by and killed by a deadly snake in Thailand. People have cobras in their yard, vipers, whatever else… the snakes do NOT want to see humans and will get away at every opportunity.
Just be cautious walking in grass outside. Don’t walk anywhere you cannot see where your feet are stepping.
If you see a snake in your yard – grab a photo, send it to me, and I’ll let you know if it was venomous. If so, and you see it again and can watch where it goes – call the EMS or police in your area, and they’ll know the snake guys that can come take it away for you.
If you’re bitten by a snake, stay calm and go to the hospital. Venom usually takes hours before you’re debilitated. Wait to see if symptoms even develop. A good portion of bites don’t include envenomation. They are dry bites, so to speak. Little or no venom is released through the fangs during a dry bite. There have been studies done with cobras and vipers that show that 30-50% of bites are dry bites, even when the snake is directly stepped on.
Hope this helps. I’ll repost it at the thailandsnakes.com site. Maybe it will help someone else relax a bit about snakes here.
Got off to a busy start with a number of visitors, including the most esteemed, Al Coritz aka: ViperKeeper on YouTube. Al and I went out on our own a couple of trips but also were able to herp with a couple of my friends – Marc Littlewood and Ronny Levin. We found 3-4 snakes each night as I recall. ViperKeeper was able to add a few snakes to his Lifer List – including the Malayan Krait (B. candidus), the Brown-spotted Pit Viper (T. venustus), Mangrove Pit Viper (T. purpureomaculatus), Malayan Pit Viper (C. rhodostoma), and a Small-spotted Coral Snake (C. maculiceps). There may have been more, and there were definitely more non-venomous he’d not seen in the wild before. Great visit – so glad he finally made it over to Thailand, I’ve been inviting him for about six years!
After Al left, I had to really get to work in planning the Summer Event which has managed to elude a name altogether. Elliot said it should be called, “SnakeStock 2016.” And that sounded almost reasonable, but it didn’t stick this year. Maybe next year.
We had 18 people come from all over the world to experience venomous and non-venomous snakes in various field herp activities. We climbed mountains and rode kayaks looking for snakes. Neither of which produced even one snake. Bit of a bummer there.
The event overall was a success, but bordered on catastrophe. I’ll leave it at that. We found 36 snakes and 16 species, so really quite a decent expenditure of energy by anyone’s standards. We ate awesome food and I met some amazing people. You never really know who is going to show up, and I was very pleased with the group. I’ve never herped so much in my life, so that was a new experience. Still, it hasn’t ended. I’ve got Elliot visiting and there are still 3 guys from the Event who are in town. We’re set to herp again tonight, after herping last night and finding 7 snakes, and 7 the night before. It’s definitely the right time of year, but I have noticed a big uptick in my spotting skills since I’ve been going out often. I am sure I can go out any night and find 3 snakes, probably more, depending on how much time I have. I haven’t had that confidence before.
Oh, I almost forgot… the highlight of the 5 day event, for me, was the neonate D. cyanochloris, a bronzeback snake that was just mind-bogglingly beautiful. I found one years ago at the top of a mountain with a temple – and haven’t seen it since.
This next book, “Is That Snake In Your House Dangerous?” has taken MONTHS longer than I was expecting. It is difficult to rely on others for information, photos, and advice. Guess they are necessary evils but man, so much for producing the book in a couple of weeks like I thought I might – last year!
THAILAND SNAKES T-SHIRTS
I still have some XXL t-shirts left in white, green, grey, and yellow. These shirts fit the average man once washed. The material is quite decent and I have had no complaints at all.
The FB group is going well. We’ve got around 4,500 subscribers. Not a whole lot of regular contributors though. Wish I could change that. I’ll refocus on the website for a bit, having neglected it for months while the FB site is easier to share small info bits.
ON THE HORIZON
I have an idea… an overall idea about how to go about funding the rest of my days in Thailand, should I choose to stay. It involves snakes. It involves venom. It does not include milking snakes. Will reveal more as I get more into the outline of it. It’s a big idea and yet one that I think has the potential to change at least some portion of the world. Yeah, that big… Let’s see if I can pull it together.
OBLIGATORY SNAKE PHOTOS
I’ve been taking less and less photos and focusing more on videos. I have a ton of videos to put up on YouTube, but it will be a long time before I’m able to focus on them and get them uploaded. Here’s a photo or two – some snakes found recently.
Vern L. ThailandSnakes.com Facebook.com/ThailandSnakes
Thailand Snakes covers venomous and non-venomous snakes in Thailand and surrounding countries. Cobras, Kraits, Vipers, Corals, Rat Snakes, Tree Snakes, Whip Snakes, Pipe Snakes, Kukris, Pythons, and more.