Here is a whip snake that was a bit of a mystery for a while, it was finally identified by an American expat snake researcher in Bangkok – Michael Cota.
This snake was found in Krabi province, and far north of where other instances of this snake have been found in Thailand. There were a couple found in the southernmost provinces – near Narathiwat – near the Malaysian border.
Dryophiops rubescens (Keel-bellied Whip Snake)
Also known as: Red Whip Snake, Brown Whip Snake, Keel bellied whip snake, keel bellied vine snake.
Length: As long as 1 meter (3+ feet)
Description: The head of this snake is browner than any other part of the body. Keep in mind there are red and brown varieties. The head is elongated and has a ridge between the eye and snout. Pupils are set horizontally. The body of the snake is slender – ideal for climbing through vines and light growth.
The snake is measured in grams, not exceeding 300 grams for the largest of them. Scales on top of the body are smooth. The underside scales are keeled and are excellent for climbing. The whip snake I caught yesterday was able to climb up a smooth plastic water jug and grip it tightly. I was quite surprised. The head is brown, the neck and first half of the body is silver / grey and mottled with some black and dark grey. The belly is pale yellow under the head and neck, and toward the tail gets a coloration very similar to the top – heavily mottled and darker brown moving posteriorly. These snakes are more thin than my smallest finger.
Range: Literature has this snake occurring only in Thailand’s deep south, but, this is the second instance of one found in Krabi province – so, obviously the range includes this province as well.
Habitat: Trees and ground. I found both on the ground. They are excellent climbers and love vines and light brush. Recently we found one hanging out in the curve of a guardrail on a mountain in Krabi.
Active Time? Diurnal, but possibly also nocturnal. Both of mine were found during daylight hours.
Food: Small geckos and frogs primarily.
Defensive Behavior: Accurate strikers! One of the ones we’ve had didn’t bite at all. The other tagged my finger striking quickly and very accurately. I bled slightly. No ill effects were noted.
Venom Toxicity: Weak for humans. Effective for geckos, lizards and frogs. These are rear-fanged colubrids and a prolonged bite could cause swelling and pain at the bite site.
Offspring: Nothing known about this area.
Notes: These are really beautiful snakes resembling the Ahaetulla prasina in body morphology and Gunther’s Whip Snake. Studied closely you’d be amazed at the pattern in the body of the snake. Both of ours were brown whip snakes (we are guessing – there are few photos in the lit), there are also red-colored species of this snake.
Scientific classification: Dryophiops rubescens
Species: D. rubescens
(Classified by Grey, in the year 1835.)
Video – Brown Whip Snake from Southern Thailand:
Video of Another Keeled Whip Snake from Krabi Province in Thailand:
Page Updated: 6 September 2016