Blue Malaysian Coral Snake – Venomous – Deadly

Deadly snake, Calliophis bivurgatis flaviceps - blue Malaysian coral snake
Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps. ©2012 Tom Charlton. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Blue Malaysian Coral Snake is a venomous elapid and is one of the most strikingly beautiful snakes you’ll ever see. I’ve been lucky enough to see one crossing the road in southern Thailand and I didn’t have any snake hook to grab him.

(Last updated: 26 July 2016)

Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps (Blue Malaysian Coral Snake, Blue Long-glanded Coral Snake)

3 Sub-species: C. b. bivirgatus in Java – lacks blue stripes on ventral.
C. b. flaviceps in Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia (possibly, no records), Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra and various islands of the Riau Archipelago. C. b. tetrataenia in Borneo has a light yellow stripe on side, without blue stripe.

Thais Say: ngoo bik thong dang

Length: Up to 180 cm, however usually around 140 cm

Range: This beautiful coral snake is found from around Bangkok and south toward Peninsular Malaysia.

Habitat: Usually found at some elevation – over 400 meters. Calliophis bivirgata prefers heavily wooded and wet areas of primary and secondary rainforest.

They seem to prefer living under and foraging under leaves and fallen trees to rocks.

Active Time: These corals snakes are nocturnally active, but on rainy and cloudy days they can also be found to be active, like some other coral snakes.

Description: Medium sized, though large for a coral snake, this snake reaches 140 cm typically, and up to 170 cm. or so, have been recorded. The body is mostly deep blue with light blue or white stripes along the lower ventral side of the body. The head, venter (belly), and tail are usually brilliant red. The nose is blunt for foraging the leaf litter where it spends most of its time. Dorsal scale count: 13-13-13.

Defensive Behavior: Always avoiding man and other large threats, they can be very fast as they flip about almost spastically. When they are trapped and tailed, they may attempt to flip over on the dorsal side, exposing a brilliant ventral of red, orange, and pinkish color. During foraging these snakes are very slow moving.

Food: Prey includes other snakes, lizards, frogs, birds.

Danger: All coral snakes must be treated as potentially lethal snakes. That said, many people free-handle these snakes at their own peril. Deaths have occurred as the result of envenomation by this snake. One man in Singapore was reported to have died within five minutes of envenomation. Do be exceptionally careful and never hand-hold any deadly snake.

Venom Toxicity: Neurotoxic venom which does not initially present with much pain at the bite site is immediately acting to block nerve impulses. The wound may become numb, and lips may also get numb. Difficulty in breathing occurs as the venom shuts down muscle contractions – the diaphragm and other major muscles.

Antivenom: None.

Key Diagnostic Features: Local pain + flaccid paralysis
General Approach to Management: All cases should be treated as urgent and potentially lethal. Rapid assessment and commencement of treatment for symptoms is mandatory. Admit all cases.

Offspring: Oviparous and clutches of 1-3 eggs.

Notes: One of the most impressive snakes to see in the wild. Fairly common in deep Southern Thailand and Malaysia mountains. This snake is easily confused with Calamaria schlegeli in Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, Java, and Sumatra. C. schlegeli is the Red-headed Reed Snake, which is harmless. The reed snake has smaller scales and no red tail or venter. Venter is grey and white.

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Calliophis
Species: C. bivirgata
Binomial name: Calliophis bivirgata

(Friedrich Boie, 1827)

High Definition (1080p) Video of Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps Found During Daylight in Singapore:

About Vern Lovic

Snake posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours and events to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, corals, keelbacks, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species. Here's our latest book with detailed information on Thailand's 35 Deadly Snakes. "Is That Snake In Your House Dangerous? Identify Deadly Thailand Snakes In Under 5 Minutes!" INFO HERE.

4 thoughts on “Blue Malaysian Coral Snake – Venomous – Deadly”

  1. The coolest snake ever. This snake has a beautiful red head. I am 10 and love snakes so if you want to tell me anything just tell me.

  2. Hello Vern….can you please look at my website page on snakes and tell me if the snake taken in Tioman.. is indeed a RedHeaded Krait or Blue Coral Snake…Many Thanks..(About 7 feet long, late morning in jungle above golf course.. lying quietly in foliage by track , very slow to move off ).

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