Tag Archives: Thailand snakes

Common Thailand Non-Venomous Snakes – Photos, Videos, Links

Thailand’s Very Common Non-Venomous Snakes

(Last updated: 26 July 2016)

Thailand has around 185 snake species considered non-venomous, or mildly venomous and not a threat to human beings. Though these snakes are not known to be dangerous to humans, that doesn’t mean that they are not. The red-necked keelback, for instance, was a snake kept in aquariums across the world for years before the first deadly bites occurred. Turns out that they have a very strong venom that can be delivered with prolonged or multiple bites. Do be careful with all snakes.

Chrysopelea ornata. Golden Tree Snake

These snakes are very common and it is probably the most commonly seen snake among tourists and Thai locals. They are at home in the bushes and on the ground during the day. They are excellent climbers and prefer to eat the tokay geckos and other geckos. These snakes have a mild venom that can kill or disable birds and other small animals. It is not likely to affect your dog or cat, if bitten.

Info Sheet – Golden Tree Snake / Flying Snake (click)

Side view of Chrysopelea ornata, the flying snake, or the golden tree snake.
Golden Tree Snake
Golden tree snake (Chrysopelea ornata) close-up.
Golden Tree Snake – aka Flying Snake. Not dangerous. Quite fast in trees.
Chrysopelea paradisi, the paradise tree snake, or paradise flying tree snake from Southern Thailand.
A close relative of the golden tree snake, this is the ‘paradise tree snake’ – Chrysopelea paradisi. Very similar in appearance with the addition of some orange or red color to some of the scales on the top of the body and head.

Golden Tree Snake Video

Juvenile Chrysopelea ornata with Bright Colors:

Paradise Tree Snake Video – Catching Chrysopelea paradisi from a Tree in Southern Thailand:

Ptyas korros. Indo-Chinese Rat Snake

This rat snake is also very common no matter what type of weather or season. These are terrestrial (land-based) snakes with excellent climbing skills. They hunt lizards and other small animals on the ground during daylight hours. Rat snakes have no fangs, but their saliva is known to contain venom proteins. Nobody has been recorded in the literature as having been envenomated significantly by these snakes. Color varies from brown to grey or black.

Info Sheet – Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (click)

A brownish colored Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (Ptyas korros) from Southern Thailand.

Grey Indochinese rat snake in Thailand
Indochinese rat snakes eat predominantly rats and other rodents.

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake Video

A Juvenile Rat Snake – Brown with Light Banding Typical of Young Ptyas korros in Southern Thailand:

Coelognathus radiata. Copper-headed Racer / Radiated Rat Snake. 

These rat snakes are common around trash bins, and anywhere rats and other rodents can be found. Though they are primarily terrestrial, I have seen one 3-4 meters up a palm tree raiding a bird nest of its young or eggs. These are strong, very fast striking snakes with a lot of nervous energy. Like the other rat snakes, it has no fangs with which to deliver venom.

Info Sheet – Copper-headed Racer (click)

Radiated Rat Snake - Copperhead Racer

Double S position before this copper-headed racer strikes is typical. Coelognathus radiata.

These radiated rat snakes can be more yellow and brown. This one is quite orange colored. Coelognathus radiata.
While usually the radiated rat snake has more of a yellow tone to it, this one was quite orange / brown. They have an amazing pattern when defensive and flared up.

Copper-headed Racer Video

Juvenile Copper-headed Rat Snake (Radiated rat snake) Caught on the Road:

Adult Copper-headed Racer (Radiated rat snake) – Letting Go in Wild:

Monocled Cobras – Venomous – Very Deadly

Monocled cobra siblings. Deadly venomous snakes - Naja kaouthia - Thailand
Naja Kaouthia – Venomous – VERY dangerous and very common Thailand snake.

(Last Updated: 26 July 2016)

Naja kaouthia, the monocled cobra is one of Thailand’s most deadly snakes – with highly toxic (neurotoxic + cytotoxic) venom. One bite on your toe from one that jumps out from under your outdoor refrigerator can kill you. Monocled cobras seem to be everywhere in Thailand. I had a friend that found them in his kitchen often. I’ve seen them crossing the road (see video below), and there was a family of these cobras living under the office of my wife’s workplace – with many 18″ baby cobras.

I just heard about Grant Thompson, an 18-year-old man in Austin, Texas that was bitten on the wrist by a monocled cobra and died of cardiac arrest. Authorities are looking for the snake. Tips that might catch the snake 1. If cool in the mornings, the snake might be found in bushes sunning itself. These cobras prefer hot weather over 80°F. 2. They are most active during daytime, but can move at night. 3. N kaouthia will eat eggs, mice, rats, if no other snakes are to be found. They prefer snakes, but I don’t know what Grant fed his snake. It might be unable to stalk prey and feed itself and die within a month.

Thais respect (fear) this snake because many have friends or relatives that have been envenomated (bitten and venom injected) by this snake. They even make Buddhist amulets with cobra snake images.

I’ve worked with two hatchling monocled cobras, and even at 12-15 inches – they are fierce. One snake handler described monocled cobras as “spastic” – and I have to agree.

If you are bitten by any cobra – get to the hospital as fast as you can. Monocled cobra venom is on par or even more toxic than some of the Thailand kraits, and much more toxic than King Cobra venom when compared drop to drop. Even if the bite is a small one, a nick, or a scrape, get to the hospital immediately. All it takes is a drop of venom to hit your blood stream for biological chaos to ensue.

Naja kaouthia (Thailand Monocled Cobra)

Appearance: Monocled cobras are easily identified by looking at the back of the hood – there is a monocle – or eye type shape there. They are light brown to dark grey to solid black. Most are very close to black.

Thais say: Ngoo how hom, Ngoo how mo (long o sound)

Length: Typical maximum length about 1.5 meters. Recently I saw one in a mangrove forest that was 2 meters long, a giant. They can get up to 2.2 meters – about 7.5 feet long.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Southeast Asia.

Notes: Neuro toxic venom affecting nerves, brain, and causing death very quickly without treatment. They are very fast strikers. The baby monocled cobras are every bit as deadly. Please be CAREFUL!

Habitat: Both flat and hilly regions. I’ve seen them on hills, but usually near people – under houses and in places rats and frogs are likely to be found. I’ve seen them most often in residential areas bordering forest, or near the ocean. In the mornings they can be in trees and bushes – trying to get some sun to warm up. They love to hide under leaves, wood, anything really. Lifespan is around 30 years.

Deadly venomous Thailand monocled cobra (naja kaouthia) in strike pose.Active Time? The snake is mainly diurnal – active by day, but I have seen a number of them still active at night. In fact, in Thailand – I’ve seen about a dozen active at night – the rest were active during daytime.

Food: Rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, other snakes.

Defensive Behavior: Lift head off ground and flatten out neck. The hood flares quite wide compared to the width of the body. When comparing the monocled cobra and the king cobra, the monocled cobras have a hood flare that is more extreme in relation to the width of their body and heads. They can hiss when they strike.

Monocled cobras are very active and ready to strike especially as the temperature climbs past 35°C (about 95°F). Do be very careful with them during this temperature range because they are very easily agitated and strike much more often.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic, deadly. Even a small bite can kill you. See “neurotoxic and necrotoxic / cytotoxic venoms” (link).

Offspring: Lays 25-40 eggs. Young are fully prepared to envenomate as they hatch. Mating takes place after the rainy season. Eggs incubate in about 2 months. Eggs hatch between April-June. Hatchlings are between 8 to 12 inches at birth.

Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Naja
Species: Naja kaouthia

Classified by: Lesson, 1841

Monocled Cobra videos:
My Two Recent Baby Monocled Cobras:

Finding a Small Monocled Cobra on the Street:

A Couple Juvenile Monocled Cobras in a Tank:

Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps – Deadly

Deadly and Beautiful, the red-headed krait is one of the rare and very venomous elapids living in Thailand's rainforests. This is a closeup photo at 3 a.m. as we found one in Trang, Thailand.
Deadly and Beautiful, the red-headed krait is one of the rare and very venomous elapids living in Thailand’s rainforests.

(Last updated: 26 July 2016)

Red Headed Krait(Bungarus flaviceps)

Thais say: Ngoo sam lee-um hoo-uh si dang

Length: These kraits grow to about 2 meters long, though most adults found are shorter.

Appearance: Somewhat pronounced vertebral ridge, which differentiates from the Malayan Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivurgata). Body is black or dark grey, the head and tail are bright red or orange. The tail on the venter is also the same color. The rest of the venter is creme to white colored. The head is more distinct from the neck than C. bivirgata. Dorsal scale count: 13-13-13.

Range: In Thailand the red headed krait is only found in the southern Thailand provinces from Ratchaburi and southward. Across the globe they are most heavily concentrated in Malaysia, Borneo, and a couple other places. Recently I found a large 1.9 meter specimen in rainforest in the Trang province. I have also found them in Surat Thani, and Krabi provinces.

Habitat: Lowlands and hilly rainforest type habitat. The last four of these snakes I saw were all found at less than 200 meters elevation.

Active Time? Probably active both at night and day. Three of four of these snakes in our local area were found during the daylight.

Food: Some say the red headed kraits eat more frogs, lizards, eggs, and rodents than other snakes. Probably they are opportunistic and eat whatever presents itself.

Defensive Behavior: Of the four snakes examined – none struck out, none attempted to bite at all. Note – all but one was handled during daylight hours.

Venom Toxicity: Venomous, and deadly. The venom has been shown to have an LD50 subcutaneous measurement of .35 mg/kg for Bungarus flaviceps, while Bungarus candidus (Malayan Krait) was .32 mg/kg, and Bungarus fasciatus (Banded Krait), .62 mg/kg and less than that in another study. This makes it one of the top venomous snakes on the planet and within the top three most venomous in Thailand. The black mamba is listed at the same .32 mg/kg by venom researcher, Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry at his site. (well, now he pulled down his chart). Only 10 other terrestrial snakes in the world were listed with more potent venom. Little is known of the this venom’s effect on humans after a bite, though it is likely very similar to a bite from Bungarus candidus, I could find no treatment studies due to bites being quite rare by this krait species.

From the abstract of a recent (2/2010) venom study in Malaysia: Bungarus flaviceps (red-headed krait) venom presents an intravenous LD50 of 0.32 μg/g and exhibits enzymatic activities similar to other Bungarus toxins. ELISA cross-reactions between anti-Bungarus flaviceps and a variety of elapid and viperid venoms were observed in the current study. Double-sandwich ELISA was highly specific, since anti- B. flaviceps serum did not cross-react with any tested venom, indicating that this assay can be used for species diagnosis in B. flaviceps bites. In the indirect ELISA, anti- B. flaviceps serum cross-reacted moderately with three different Bungarus venoms (9-18%) and Notechis scutatus venom, but minimally with other elapid and viperid toxins. The results indicated that B. flaviceps venom shares common epitopes with other Bungarus species as well as with N. scutatus. The lethality of the B. flaviceps venom was neutralized effectively by antiserum prepared against B. candidus and B. flaviceps toxins and a commercial bivalent elapid antivenom prepared against B. multicinctus and Naja naja atra venoms, but was not neutralized by commercial antivenoms prepared against Thai cobra, king cobra and banded krait. These data also suggested that the major lethal toxins of B. flaviceps venom are similar to those found in B. multicinctus and B. candidus venoms.

Treatment Summary Envenomation can produce moderate to severe flaccid paralysis, and respiratory failure requiring intubation and ventilation in severe cases. Antivenom available for major species (detailed below), could potentially prevent worsening of paralysis, but may not reverse established paralysis.

Key Diagnostic Features: Minimal to mild local reaction + flaccid paralysis

Antivenom Code: SAsTRC04
Antivenom Name: Banded Krait Antivenin
Manufacturer: Science Division, Thai Red Cross Society
Phone: +66-2-252-0161 (up to 0164)
Address: Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, 1871 Rama IV Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Country: Thailand

Offspring: Two clutches from two adult female red-headed kraits were studied by Chulalongkorn University scientists in Bangkok. One clutch was four eggs, and the other, six eggs. After 81-84 days in incubation at 26-27C and the other clutch at 30-32C eggs hatched. Less eggs hatched at the higher temperature incubation. Average hatchling length was 28.9cm +/- .8cm measured from snout to vent. Weight of each was 7.2 to 7.8 grams. Humidity in the incubation enclosures was 60-70%. After 7-10 days all snakes had shed.

Notes: I have seen four of these kraits, and they are quite incredible to find in the wild considering how rare they are. Bungarus flaviceps has not been studied very well, and I suspect that most of the information on Wikipedia and other information sources has been generalized from other Thailand kraits like the Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus) and Many Banded Krait (Bungarus multicinctus) because the wording seems too similar to be by chance. There are a number of Malayan Blue Coral snakes mis-identified on Youtube videos, and on Wikipedia.

These snakes have not been studied well in captivity or in the wild, except for the previously mentioned study in which the kraits lived surprisingly long. Usually the literature shows the red-headed krait dies quickly in captivity. These kraits are not known to bite during daytime, but, be exceptionally careful when handling them.

Substrate: Best? Leaves and something large to hide under – wood is best, rocks, something solid.

Ways to differentiate Bungarus flaviceps from the Malayan Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus):

1. B. flaviceps has a triangle cross-section, while C. bivirgatus has more of a round cross-section.
2. C. bivirgatus has a venter that is all red/orange. B. flaviceps has red under the tail only.
3. B. flaviceps reaches about 2 meters while B. bivirgatus grows to just 1.7 meters.
4. B. bivirgatus has lateral lines on both sides of the body toward the venter, that are solid light blue or white.
5. By studying some video one can see how their crawling pattern differs.
6. B. flaviceps has a more sizable head, a wider head, and larger mouth than the coral snake.

7/25/13 Update. At 11:30 pm in a Thailand National Park in Trang Province, a friend and I found a large 1.9+ meter long Bungarus flaviceps on the trail and photographed and shot video of it. Video #1 is of this snake. The photos on this page are all of the same snake. As with all snakes found, it was released in the same spot as where it was found.

Bungarus flaviceps

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: Bungarus flaviceps

Binomial name: Bungarus flaviceps

Classified by Reinhardt, in year, 1843

Photos of Bungarus flaviceps

Tailing the red-headed krait, Trang Province, Thailand.
Tailing the red-headed krait around 2 a.m. in the middle of the rainforest, Trang Province, Thailand.
Red-headed krait peaking underneath the tail.
After a krait stops trying to get away, you will be lucky to get a little peak before it covers its head.
The red tail is unmistakably krait. The high-vertebral ridge is one of the differentiators between this snake and the similar in color, Blue Malayan Coral Snake.
The tail is unmistakably krait. The high-vertebral ridge is one of the differentiators between this snake and the similar in color, Blue Malayan Coral Snake.

Video 1 – Large Red-Headed Krait caught in Trang Province, southern Thailand:

Video 2 – Red Headed Krait – Bungarus flaviceps caught in southern Thailand:

2nd Part of Red Headed Krait #2 Video:

Small Spotted Coral Snake – Venomous – Dangerous

Speckled Coral Snake - Venomous - Potentially Dangerous
Speckled Coral Snake – Calliophis maculiceps Juvenile

“Calliophis maculiceps” (Speckled coral snake, Small-spotted Coral Snake)

(Last updated: 26 July 2016)

Length: Average 35 cm

Range: These small coral snakes are found all over Thailand and some other countries in Asia. I have seen a couple dozen of these snakes in southern Thailand, usually found by people in their potted plants outside.

Habitat: These snakes enjoy the leaf litter, loose dirt, and cool areas under rotting trees and other foliage. Occasionally they are seen dead on the road during or after rain when they probably come up above ground to avoid water. They are very rarely found during the daytime, and one scientist said they are usually only seen during September and October. But, I’ve seen them year round.

Active Time? Nocturnal – active almost exclusively at night, or underground during the daytime.

Food: Very small snakes like the Brahminy blind snake, worm snakes, worms, and probably termite, ant, and other insect eggs.

Defensive Behavior: They curl up their bright red (pink or orange), white and black spotted tail as a defense mechanism. These snakes have little else for defense, as they don’t even attempt to bite. The mouth on the Calliophis maculiceps is very small.

Venom Toxicity: This is a coral snake, so, the potential for life-threatening envenomation does potentially exist. Their venom is neurotoxic. There are places on the human body where this snake could get a good bite in, given the chance. Between the fingers and toes is an ideal piece of skin to bite. Just be very careful with these, and all coral snakes. Just because a snake has not been known to cause significant envenomation in the past, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. If you keep this snake as a pet – be very careful not to get too comfortable holding it – it is potentially a deadly snake.

Offspring: One scientist noted a clutch of just 2 eggs.

Notes: These are remarkably beautiful snakes, and yet so small that they could be mistaken for a worm of some sort if. Body patterns can differ slightly. Some, like this juvenile exhibit black stripes and spots. Some have just spots. Some are almost uniformly brown with very few or light spots. The body of this coral snake is round, without a pronounced vertebral ridge. The belly is bright orange, and the tip of the tail has white and black. When the tail is raised, it is quite stunning. These snakes are common, and are kept as pets across the world.

Speckled Coral Snake from side - Calliophis maculiceps
This juvenile speckled coral was about half the diameter of a pencil.
Defensive behavior of Calliophis maculiceps.

All Photos – ©2011 Vern Lovic

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Subfamily: Elapinae
Genus: Calliophis
Species: C. maculiceps

Calliophis maculiceps
(Discovered by Gunther in the year 1858)

Small-spotted Coral Snake Video:

June 2016 Thailand Snakes Update

JUNE 2016 SNAKEY STUFF

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!

THE EVENT

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.

THE BOOK

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.

FACEBOOK GROUP

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.

Small-spotted Coral Snake in Southern Thailand's herping paradise - Krabi.
Calliophis maculiceps. Small spotted Coral Snake. Probably capable of a deadly bite, but I don’t think there are any deaths listed in the literature. If you know of one, please let me know.
Brown-spotted Pit Viper hanging out for a meal in Southern Thailand's herping paradise.
Trimeresurus venustus. Brown-spotted Pit Viper. Only the tail was visible from the road, but it’s quite distinctive…
Oriental Whip Snake with Striped Venter!
Ahaetulla prasina – Oriental Whip Snake, with a striped venter (belly) – pretty cool, right? This was an amazing find last night.

Cheers!

Vern L.
ThailandSnakes.com
Facebook.com/ThailandSnakes

Wagler’s Pit Viper – Venomous – Dangerous

Tropidolaemus wagleri - Wagler's Pit Viper - Dangerous
Tropidolaemus wagleri – Wagler’s Pit Viper – Dangerous and potentially deadly bites.

Tropidolaemus wagleri – also called: Wagler’s Pit viper; temple viper; bamboo snake; speckled pit viper

Thais say: ngoo keow took geh

Length: Average length of 60 cm. Male smaller than female. Female maximum length at 100 cm.

Appearance: Wagler’s pit viper is short and the female is considerably thicker (3-4 times as thick) than the male. A marked difference in patterns is noted with the female becoming darker and with strong banding as you can see in the above image. The males are so radically different that they look like completely different species. In three reptile identification books I have for Thailand, they make no mention of the differences between the sexes. The female is pictured in each case.

Dorsal scale count ( 23 to 29 ) – ( 21 to 27 ) – ( 17 to 21 ) and usually 21 to 23 midbody dorsal scale rows in males and 23 to 27 midbody scale rows in females. Dorsal scales are strongly keeled in females, and lesser keeled in males.

Coloration can vary significantly among females. Here is a very yellow T. wagleri.

Tropidolaemus wagleri - very yellow phase. Coloration not altered.

 

Here is a darker colored female, but not nearly as much as the top and bottom photos on this page. Not nearly as much lateral yellow as the previous photo.

This is a brightly colored Tropidolaemus wagerli (Wagler's pit viper) which is gravid and ready to have young. It is located in a tropical rainforest in Southern Thailand.
Gravid and ready to have young. Soon to be the parent of dozens of hatchling vipers.

Besides the difference in size, thickness, and pattern, the body type is also quite different. The male grows to be around 60 cm and is long and thin, more like a wolf snake or something similar.

Below is a photo of a male Wagler’s pit viper found within one meter of a very gravid female. Obviously quite a big difference.

This is the male specimen of the species, Tropidolaemus wagleri. The female and male are markedly different in appearance of body, pattern, thickness, and coloration.

Range: Southern Thailand south of Khao Sok National Park, Suratthani province. Other countries: West Malaysia; Indonesia; Philippines. There is a concentration of these common vipers on the island of Phuket, Thailand.

Habitat: Elevations up to about 1,200 meters but most abundant at elevations from 400 up to about 600 meters in lowland primary forest, secondary forest and jungle – especially coastal mangrove. During the day these vipers can sometimes be found as little as a meter off the ground, up to a couple meters. They seem to prefer bushes over trees. Recently I found a gravid female at one meter off the forest floor and resting on a strong vine just 1 cm in diameter.

Active Time? Mainly nocturnal, but occasionally found during the day, especially during or after rain. Crepuscular in nature, they are more often active during dusk and dawn, or on an unusually dark day during heavy rain. I have found these snakes during the day in a moderate rain at 400 meters elevation, and at 2000 hours after a light rain.

Food: Birds – especially baby birds in the nest, mice and other rodents, lizards, frogs.

Defensive Behavior: Coil back into s-shape before striking. Strike is typically less than .3 meters in distance. Mouth wide-open exposing very long fangs and white tissue. Can strike in succession rather quickly. Their strike is not very fast in comparison with some of the other vipers. The heat-sensing pits between the eyes can sense temperature difference as little as 0.003 degrees Celsius. If continuously threatened they may hold their mouth wide open, like the photo above.

Venom Toxicity: Potentially deadly. Strong venom that usually does not result in death to humans. Victims experience a strong burning sensation upon envenomation, and swelling, necrosis of tissue. The multi-valent antivenom for green pit vipers treats envenomation by this snake.

Antivenom Code: SAsTRC01
Antivenom Name: Green Pit Viper Antivenin
Manufacturer: Science Division, Thai Red Cross Society
Phone: +66-2-252-0161 (up to 0164)
Address: Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, 1871 Rama IV Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Country: Thailand

Offspring: Live birth in September is common, with up to 41 young per litter. Male and females look different from day one, the females having light banding and the males with creme / red or brown dots on the top of the body.

Notes: Though these snakes are said to be exclusively arboreal and nocturnal, I found one on a mountain recently during the middle of the day, on the ground, during a rain shower. See the video below.

Tropidolaemus wagleri

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotalinae
Genus: Tropidolaemus
Species: T. wagleri
Binomial name: Tropidolaemus wagleri

Classified by Boie, in the year 1827.

Top of head – very triangular, and thin neck (female):

Triangle Head - Female Wagler's Pit Viper

Video 1 – Wagler’s Pit Viper – found during daylight hours during a moderate rain shower with dark skies at around 400 meters elevation on a mountain in Krabi province, Southern Thailand.

Brown-Spotted Green Pit Viper – Venomous – Dangerous

Brown Spotted Green Viper in southern Thailand. Cryptelytrops venustus.
Trimeresurus venustus. Brown-Spotted Green Viper. Small – 70 cm. Venomous. Mildly Dangerous. Found in Southern Thailand. ©2007 ThailandSnakes.com.

Trimeresurus venustus, previously Cryptelytrops venustus – (Brown-spotted Green Pit Viper, Beautiful Pit Viper)

Thais Say: Haang Ham tai

Length: average 40-70 cm

Range: Chumpon to Krabi Province in Thailand. I have found them in Krabi and Surat Thani provinces.

Notes: I found this one in the picture on a small hill at a Buddhist temple on a hill next to some steps. These venomous snakes are active on the ground and in bushes. This one was in a bush about 1.3 meters high, right next to the path. It was non-aggressive and didn’t protest when I moved it away from the path with a stick.

Appearance: Small vipers with usually brilliant greens, whites, and browns. Though sometimes the color can be quite muted. Dorsal scales are strongly keeled. Dorsal scale count 21 – 21 – 15.

A brightly colored T. venustus waiting in ambush atop a rock.
A brightly colored T. venustus waiting in ambush atop a rock.

Habitat:  I’ve found these vipers up to 300 meters elevation. This snake hunts almost entirely on the ground where it preys on frogs and lizards. They also enjoy primary and secondary rainforest, limestone mountains, and rubber tree plantations. I kept one of these for three days to photograph and shoot video of. It spends most time suspended from a branch just a few inches off the bottom of the tank.

Active Time? The snake is mainly nocturnal. Active during the day only after heavy rainfall. I have found most of mine during daylight hours, but have also found them at night hunting prey on the ground in ambush position in culverts on certain hills.

Food: Mice, frogs, lizards. I had a good sized house gecko in the tank with this Trimeresurus venustus, but it left it alone. The pit vipers sense the heat of the animal and strike. The geckos are cold blooded so they are no hotter than their surroundings. Still, some pit vipers will eat cold blooded animals. Perhaps this snake just wasn’t hungry at the moment.

Trimeresurus venustus, the brown-spotted pit viper, aka: beautiful pit viper from Southern Thailand is one of the true vipers and is venomous but has not been shown to be deadly.

Defensive Behavior: This pit viper is very slow during the day and only bites if seriously aggravated. I ran into a reptile poacher in a Thailand forest and he was hand carrying one of these brown spotted green pit vipers in his left hand and had a large box turtle in his other hand. I told him – PIT! It means ‘venomous’ in Thai. He insisted “no, it wasn’t” and held it up to his face where the snake immediately bit him on the cheek a couple times and once on the lip. It let go after 1-2 seconds. He said – “See??” I promptly bought the snake from him, to keep him from further harm. Not sure what hospital he was at that night!

Venom Toxicity: Mildly toxic, but complications can develop. Bites are painful and usually without significant effects. Probably this viper would need to bite down for a number of seconds to transfer enough volume of venom that it would be seriously detrimental, but they are fully capable of doing so. Bites are to be considered potentially deadly. Green Pit Viper Antivenin is available at most public hospitals in Thailand.

Antivenom Code: SAsTRC01
Antivenom Name: Green Pit Viper Antivenin
Manufacturer: Science Division, Thai Red Cross Society
Phone: +66-2-252-0161 (up to 0164)
Address: Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, 1871 Rama IV Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Country: Thailand

Offspring: The beautiful pit viper I have now is likely gravid, which contradicts some other info I’ve seen about them having offspring in the June/July time-frame. This is December. She is not overly gravid and looks to be in the beginning stages, but still – I think only a couple of months are required for gestation. She’ll have an early birth – April maybe? These snakes birth live offspring in a jelly-like bubble that breaks after coming out of the female snake. Typical numbers are 20-30 young that are colored and patterned same as the adults.

Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Subfamily: Crotilinae
Species: Trimeresurus venustus

I could find little information about this snake beyond my own experience and some of the snake identification books I have.

Dog Toothed Cat Snake – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Dog-toothed Cat Snake found in Southern Thailand.
Dog-toothed Cat Snake – Venomous – Not Dangerous. This one is darker than usual – it is melanistic.

Boiga cynodon (Dog-toothed Cat Snake)

Thais say: ngoo sy hang ma

Length: As large as 2.75 meters (8+ feet) Recently I caught one that was about 2.5 meters. They are thin snakes and have a pronounced vertebral ridge and color bands of tan, yellow, brown and black.

Range: These Dog toothed cat snakes are found only in southern Thailand from Prachuap Khiri Khan and southward to Malaysia. We found two Boiga cynodon in Krabi and one in Nakhon si Thammarat over the past year.

Habitat: Though they shy away from locations humans frequent they can be found on resorts in southern Thailand especially where there are chickens, eggs, and birds in cages. Typical habitat for the Boiga cynodon is the rain forest where they spend most of their time in the trees and bushes waiting on the perfect bird meal to land.

Active Time? Nocturnal, active at night usually – but, we found one during the day as well.

Food: Birds of all sorts, and their eggs. Birds, chickens, and quail in captivity. When hungry will also eat other animals – lizards are most likely. There are herping forum postings of a captive animal eating mice.

Defensive Behavior: Rarely bites, this is a big snake that can be hand held.

Venom Toxicity: Though they rarely bite – even when physically attacked – they can inject venom. They are rear-fanged colubrids and a prolonged bite could cause swelling and pain at the bite site. The venom can cause problems with circulation. A simple bite from this snake is not usually dangerous because the rear fangs don’t sink in during a typical bite.

Offspring: Need information for this section.

Notes: These are beautiful snakes here in Thailand – perhaps more so than the rest of Asia where they are known to be found. A couple of specimens were found locally in Krabi in southern Thailand at night and near a chicken farm in one case, in a tree on another herping field trip. These snakes are known to eat local Thais birds in the cage, and then not be able to get back out through the slats in the bird-cage, and so entrap themselves.

Coloring on these snakes varies greatly. You can see the two snakes in these images here, they were both from the same area. They are dramatically different in coloration.

Dog-toothed cat snakes are sometimes confused with vipers because their head is quite pronounced in size from the size of their necks where it meets the head. There is no viper that gets anywhere near this big – so, you can discount vipers if the snake is 1.5 meters or longer. Only the Chain Viper (Russell’s Viper) reaches 1.5 meters, and it is considerably thicker in size at the neck.

A lighter-shade of Dog-toothed cat snake found in a palm tree at night in Krabi province. The one was nearly 3 meters long.

Scientific classification: Boiga cynodon

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Boiga
Species: B. cynodon

Scientific classification: Boiga cynodon
(Classified by Boie, in year 1827)

Video of Dog-toothed Cat Snake –

Photo credit for top of page image – my friend, Tom Charlton from the United Kingdom.

Oriental Whip Snake – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Oriental Whip Snake, Ahaetulla prasina, from Thailand
Oriental Whip Snake – Venomous – Not Dangerous

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 legend. 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: 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 it’s 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 it’s 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 it’s 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 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.

Ahaetulla prasina

Oriental Whipsnake (Ahaetulla prasina)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Ahaetulla
Species: Ahaetulla prasina

Binomial name: Ahaetulla prasina
(Classified by Shaw, in the year 1802)

Photo of a brown hued Ahaetulla prasina shot by Tom Charlton – shown here with permission:

Brown Oriental Whip Snake - Ahaetulla prasina from Thailand
Sometimes they are brown. Juveniles are usually brown.

Photo of an Ahaetulla prasina Ahaetula mycterizans, very similar to A. prasina I found on a hike:

Oriental Whip Snake, Ahaetulla prasina, venomous, rear-fanged snake from Thailand
Ahaetulla mycterizans – Venomous – Not Dangerous

Oriental Whip Snake Videos:

Another of the same type of snake – just further up the trail, different day:

December 2015 Snake Note

It’s the end of the herping season for 2015 – not only is the year winding down, but there is a real dearth of snakes in the usual areas. I made it a goal to herp more during the latter part of the year because usually from about November through April you can’t find me in the forest at night looking for reptiles and other wildlife. I wanted to find out if I was missing out on something.

This year I went out at night a number of times during October, November and December. I, and those that came with me, found 40+ snakes during this time. I have to say that is about half or less of what can typically be found during a similar effort in the June – July time period. So it’s less productive for sure, but if you’re itching to get out there and find something cool to look at – it’s worth going. There were a couple of “one snake nights” and probably there was even a no-snake night, but I try not to remember those.

This morning I’m sure the air temperature was down to 24°C (75°F) as I took my daughter to school on the motorbike. That was the coldest air I’ve felt in a year!

I’ve had some discussions with other friends about why the herping declines so harshly at the end and beginning of the year.

There are a number of features in play – mainly the temperature and the humidity – both of which change pretty drastically toward December. Twenty-five degrees C is not cold by any means, and snakes can surely move around in that temperature, but when the average temps are closer to 28-32, I think 25 becomes quite cool for them too. It’s likely well outside their ideal range.

The humidity also plunges during these dry months without rain. Snakes prefer a certain humidity level to thrive – and probably the low levels of the dry season make the snakes take a little break when it nose-dives.

The other factor, and this might be a bigger one than both those already mentioned, but tied to them, is there are very few frogs, lizards, skinks and other prey walking around during the dry season. There are some frogs, there is the occasional gecko or lizard, but maybe they aren’t the preferred species? Maybe we see fewer kraits (snake eaters) because the smaller fossorial snakes are curled up in a ball in a hole in the dirt somewhere, riding out the dry season. Could be that too.

All these factors seem to have some effect, serving to make November through April – poor herping season in the country. Other evidence that supports this is I get far fewer requests to identify snakes at my online service. I also see far, far fewer snakes DOR (Dead On Road) or crossing the road.

Whether there are less snakes to find during the daytime, is something I cannot really comment on other than DORs and those crossing the road. I don’t go looking specifically for snakes during the daylight hours, so I’m not sure whether their numbers drop so much during the dry season.

Anybody have any idea on that?