Banded Krait – Venomous – Deadly

These are yellow and black kraits here in Thailand. In some other part of the world (Borneo) they are black and white. There are also Blue Kraits aka “Malayan Kraits” which are black and white. And the really incredible looking Red-headed Krait which looks nothing like either of them.

Banded Krait Snake at Bangkok, Thailand Snake Farm
Yellow Banded Krait. Highly venomous, deadly, and relatively common in Thailand. There is a white and black version also called the Blue Krait. See page on right side. This photo is of a man at the Red Cross Snake Farm in Bangkok.

Bungarus Fasciatus (Banded Krait)

Thais say: (ngoo sam lee-um, or ngoo kan plong) This is a bit confused in Thailand where, in southern Thailand any viper is known as Ngoo sam lee-um. Lee-um means triangle, and so some people confuse triangle shaped heads of the vipers with triangle cross-section of the kraits.

Length: average 1.5 m up to 2 m (about 6.5 feet) In Thailand they don’t usually reach a full 2 meters.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Asia

Notes: I have yet to see a live banded krait in the wild, except a few dead on the roads – but I don’t go digging up ratholes or termite mounds. I may start if I don’t find one soon. I’ve been looking for three years to find a krait with yellow and black bands like these. At dinner last night I was looking around a small restaurant with many ponds, for snakes. I asked the owner’s son if they had seen any. He said, Ngoo Sam lee-um. That’s the one! I’ll get their permission for some late night herping and try to bag one. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. This restaurant is located on a small hill close to sea-level in southern Thailand. There are many frogs at the ponds, and probably many snakes too.

Update 2015- I’ve been to that restaurant numerous times and not had a call from them about this krait. I am not sure they have been found in Krabi. I have never found road kill B. fasciatus here in Krabi.

Habitat: The snake lives on the ground and in rat holes and termite mounds, under stumps or rocks and in other cool, damp places. Recently I saw photos of one in some limestone rocks here in Thailand. I’ve seen large 2 meter dead banded krait just on the outside of a rubber plantation in Surat. They prefer wide open areas near water. They have been found as high as 1,524 meters in Malaysia and about 2,300 meters in Thailand.

Active Time? The snake is mostly nocturnal and is quite active at night. Most bites occur at night, as the kraits move close to people sleeping – usually on the floor, and probably the person moves and the krait bites. More dangerous at night, during the day they are not biters. These kraits are common in the northeast Thailand provinces. Recently a six year old boy was bitten and could not be revived. The snake had come up into their home in Surin to escape some flooding.

Food: Other snakes almost exclusively – rat and cat (Boiga) snakes. In captivity I have seen them eat the following live snakes: Calloselasma rhodostoma, Chrysopelea ornata, and Gonyosoma oxycephalum. One noted herpetologist states that these kraits don’t like to eat water snakes. Will also eat rats, mice, frogs, lizards if snakes cannot be found.

Defensive Behavior: The banded krait is slow acting during the day, lethargic, and usually not interested in striking. However, it can protect itself quite well – it is a strong biter and has been recorded as killing a large type of cattle 60 minutes after a bite.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic. Deadly. This yellow/black banded krait from Thailand appears to have venom that is very toxic to humans. The typical LD-50 studies to assess the toxicity of venom in mice, rate this as a very toxic venom as well. These snakes rarely bite during the day, but if they do, they can transfer enough venom to kill you. I read about a person dying in 30 minutes, and another dying in 15 hours. A famous American herpetologist, Joe Slowinski, was killed by a baby krait (Bungarus multicinctus) in Burma while on a remote expedition. They can be quite deadly. The cause of death is that your muscles are paralyzed and your diaphragm can’t work any longer to pull oxygen into your lungs. Kraits are very deadly in this regard. However, if you are able to get to a hospital with a ventilator you will likely be OK. There is no specific antivenin for snake bites from this snake, but polyvalent venom is used – which can also treat bites from Naja kaouthia and Ophiophagus hannah.

Interesting to note… when fed on a live garter snake the krait venom acts instantly to cause death. Apparently krait venom is very efficient with snakes – the krait’s primary diet.

Handling: The banded and Malayan blue kraits are not known to bite during the daytime. However, at night time they bite rather easily, as evidenced by the numerous krait bites that occur at night to people usually laying down to sleep on the floor either outdoors or in their homes with the door open. I would never handhold kraits like the man is doing in the photo above. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small.

Update: I was contacted by a man who was bitten by this same type of krait during the day at an impromptu show at a bar in Bangkok during the daytime. It bit his arm. He was lucky to live, and had lingering effects for more than two years after the bite.

Antivenin:  Polyvalent. It is advised by experts to get antivenin in your blood stream for krait bites before you have symptoms because, once symptoms develop you may have lost nerve functioning that will likely not return.

Offspring: Mating in March-April and 4-14 eggs laid about 60 days afterward. The mother krait remains with the eggs for another 60 days before they hatch. Baby kraits are about 30cm long at birth, and have venom. I couldn’t find in the literature whether the mother left the eggs as they started hatching – so she didn’t eat them herself or not. The King Cobra does this instinctively because it also eats other snakes.

Banded Krait’s Classification

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

Binomial name
Bungarus fasciatus
Classified by Schneider in year 1801

Photo of 2 Adult Banded Kraits:

2 Banded Kraits - Bungarus fasciatus from southern Thailand, Nakhon si Thammarat province.
Quite deadly, but shy snakes – see the video below.

Video of Jackie with Banded Krait from Nakhon Si Thammarat, Southern Thailand:

About Vern Lovic

All posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, coral snakes, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species with more than 60 of them venomous and dangerous to humans.

26 thoughts on “Banded Krait – Venomous – Deadly”

  1. Hello,
    Just saw a big/fat snake about 2 mtr in my garden here in Hua Hin.
    Yello with black stripes and went into the waterhole next to my house.
    So i look it up on the internet and saw his pictuire on your site.
    Scary to know that he is very dangerous so i hope he leave and i don”t see him again.
    Thanks for the pic and info!

    1. The Kraits are ULTRA deadly, but the thing is – they don’t bite unless you mess with them directly or step on one. Their venom is more deadly than the monocled cobras – which are more deadly than the King Cobra… So – give the kraits some space or call the snake guys in your area to pick it up. I know a guy that is sometimes in Hua Hin that would LOVE to catch that snake for you – but, unfortunately he went back to Belgium for now. 2 meters is about as big as these get, you have a nice specimen there!

  2. We had black and white one in our children’s bedroom! We live in a remote forested area near Khao Yai park in Korat. It was midnight and we were sleeping. Not knowing the danger, our teen age children killed it, then woke us up. We looked on line and compared the specimen with many pictures and found it was the banded krait! We said thankful prayers that night!

    1. Wow Dawn, that is a scary story. Apparently people are bitten at night when they sleep because the kraits are active at night and tend to get in the beds with people. Especially if cold. The Snake Charmer, is a book about Joe Slowinski, a snake expert that was bitten by a baby krait – and died from it. They are ultra- deadly and you should figure out where that snake got into your house and seal up all entry points. Hopefully there are not more. Good luck to you. Any photos?

  3. Well that’s a nice and beautiful snake..but i just need to tell you something..The banded krait is deadlier than the monocled cobra..even to humans..Krait venom is 16x more potent than cobra venom..but it may be lesser or more..depending on the cobra..but still,krait venom is more potent then cobra venom *than*..Anyway happy herping like me!

    1. Hi Muhd,

      Where did you get that info? The Bungarus fasciatus is a 3.6 on the LD 50. Naja naja are .45. Lower the number, higher the toxicity of venom. Cheers, Vern.

  4. I got it at wikipedia..but other websites had also said that..Btw what you are talking about is that cobras are more toxic and kraits,which is true..but kraits have more potent venom.
    Cheers ^_^

  5. I’m laying in my tent reading this page after seeing a black and white krait go into the kids tent that are with us I just shone my torch over to help them get in and seen the tail just disappearing into the tent (did tell them to keep it zipped up all the time ) . Anyways a local guy with us grabbed it by the tail and threw it out of the tent he told us it would be bad karma to kill it ? I’m in Sakon nakhon staying on some recently cleared land within 10m of some jungle

    1. That’s a scary thing Stuart. How do you know it was a krait? How big was the snake? How thick? That’s pretty crazy of the local guy to pick it up by the tail unless he knew what he was doing. The kraits are pretty active at night – much more so than during the day time. Most bites happen at night as people are sleeping on the ground. Strange that it crawled right in the tent – but they do seek warm spots. Ok then – cheers, hope you get back to me.

      1. Hi vern im pretty sure it was a banded Krait i have seen a few dead ones by the side of the road and also seen quite a few banded sea Kraits whilst diving around thailand and SE Asia (photos on FB) it had distinctive black and white bands around its entire lentgh.It was under 1m long and only about 10-15mm wide at a guess only a juvenile ?. I also seen a Python ? ( the locals said it squeezes its prey and wasn’t very dangerous) on the same land in the daytime again prob not that old about 1m or so long and a light grey shinny colour did see some shed skin near by might of just shed its skin. Also the day before while they were working on the land they seen a Cobra as well i think it maybe that the land has recently been cleared and maybe disturbed the local snake population ?. Also maybe a month or so ago i seen a very large dark brown/black snake heading across the road it was about 3m long it covered nearly one side of the road as it crossed no idea what it was as it was moving quickly it was late afternoon .There are quite a lot of snakes around here :-)

        1. Wow, that is a LOT of snakes for this time of year – where exactly are you??????? I’m coming there tomorrow! Just joking, I’ve half a mind too though. Forget this having a family stuff – my snake time has been cut WAY short. lol.

          Sounds like a great place… if you can email me really and let me know about where you are – GPS coordinates, anything you can tell me will help when I get out there.

          Cheers man! Vern ([email protected])

  6. Respected Sir,

    I am ATUL BARSAGADE studying in B.Sc final year (life science) at RTM Nagpur university India.I am working as a snakefriend in spare time by catching all type of snakes and ultimately releasing them to nearby forest.This is because I have much interest in snakes than any other animals.This e mail is with reference to the outcome of my surfing on internet for the professors of herpetology and herpetologists.

    Sir I will be very happy if I can study HERPETOLOGY under your valuable guidance.It will definitely satisfy my thrust about snakes .I want to study about them in practical sense in their natural habitat.In this regard please inform me if I can study HERPETOLOGY in your laboratory.It will definitely encourage me to contribute in the conservation of snakes and lizards.

    I would like to work under your valuable guidance.

    Awaiting for your positive reply.
    Atul Barsagade
    PIN 442605
    Mob:+91 0 8657365946

    1. I responded by email. Just FYI to anyone else reading this comment. I am not a biologist. I am not respected in the field of herpetology. I am just a guy that loves going into Thailand’s forest and jungles and finding reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other animals.

      If you want to come to Thailand and hang out here for a while, and we’ll go herping – great. If you want me to offer you expert instruction on something – that’s beyond me.



  7. LOL Ya Vern you would not get me to hold a Krait like that LOL on a long hook ok, but never free handed, LOL you should post a few photos of what the bite looks like LOL, there are photos on the net LOL

  8. Sorry, I have not yet finished reading your article. I just started to write this when I reached the line that you were asking to see the snake. I kind of saw 2m. long and about 5in girth of this snake around Baan Vieng Nuer, Pai, MaeHongSon, Thailand at some points in October 2012 (about the time that season changed from Rainy – monsoon, to dry season). Not only the huge size, I saw once, I also saw a few numbers of the 50cm long ones as well.

    Amazing thing was, I saw them just not far/around the villagers’ places. The villagers seemed to let alone them rather than hunting them to death or to eat them. And that’s my first time to see such amazing stripes with my eyes and in wild(well, I count it in wild, since it’s not in the poor conditioned zoo somewhat.

    I save the world by being vegan!

  9. If you want to see one of these snakes in the wild just come to Chiang Mai near my house. This year I have seem 3 live ones and one huge one dead on the road. Tonight my dog was barking.. when I went out the front door.. with no shoes on.. there was a young banded Krait on the doorstep. It was only about 50 cm long.. and very beautiful.. I got some good photos. Not at all aggressive.. but I gave it plenty of space and I would NEVER try to handle or even catch them. I never go looking for these things.. but they seem to be attracted to me.. I have seen many strange and rare creatures by chance.. which many of my Thai friends.. who were born here.. have not even seen. Weird.

  10. I found a small snake similar to this yellow banded krait. I searched the internet for it because I never saw a snake like this in our area. The snake was 160mm long and quite thin. I’m living in the Western Cape (150km outside Cape Town), South Africa. My question: If the yellow banded krait is only found in Thailand and Asia, what is this? I have taken photos and made a video of the snake.

  11. I was bitten by a baby common krait and was admitted in hospital for 4 days. I got the necessary treatment. I want to whether the symptoms of bite will appear in the future?

  12. Hi Vern, My name is Tejesh Senapati. I live in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh, India. We live in an area where it’s surrounded by jungle and we witness or hear a lot of stuff (Bears, Scorpions, Cobras, and other snakes) in our area. Last night (22-3-16), I witnessed a live baby Banded Krait by the side of a road while walking to my office from a shopping complex. At one time I didn’t even the species, but when my friend identified it as “Maniyar”. Some of the villagers passing through that way called it the krait. The Krait “banded krait” wasn’t long either. It’s hardly the length of my palm. I was sort of thrilled to witness it live. I had no idea what damage it’d have done to me if I tried to crush it’s head. We thought of killing it, but since we didn’t have any stick or instrument to kill it so we let it escape into the median of the roads. But curiosity took the better of me. I came back to my room and googled the name of the snake and it’s effects. And it’s then I came to know that I made a good decision not killing it even by foot (sandals). It had to be killed though or else it’d bite the kids playing in the evening. What should we do now?

    1. Hello Tejesh! Well, to me, you are lucky because I still have not found a live one in Thailand!

      1.) Educate the kids that are playing in the dark that this snake is never to be touched, teased, stepped on, hit with a stick, etc. Banded kraits have a very strong venom that renderes people immobile (paralyzed) and some effects cannot be reversed.

      2.) See about installing lights in the area where the kids play.

      3.) Stay out there a couple nights around the same time you saw it – and catch it with a long snake hook – and relocate it to an area where there are no people around.



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