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Category Archives: Primarily Black/Brown Snakes

Monocled Cobra

Naja kaouthia

Venomous and Deadly!

monocled cobra Naja kaouthia sunderbans bangladesh

Monocled Cobra found in Sunderbans in Bangladesh

monocled cobra Naja kaouthia sunderbans bangladesh monocle

Rear shot of Monocled Cobra showing monocle mark

Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia banded variant

Banded variant of Monocled Cobra from behind (photo courtesy of Michael Cota)

Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia

Monocled Cobra missing monacle marking (photo courtesy of Wolfgang Wuster)

Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia head

Head shot of Monocled Cobra (photo courtesy of Wolfgang Wuster)

Naja kaouthia (Monocled Cobras) Randy Ciuros

Monocled Cobras in captivity (photo courtesy of Randy Ciuros)

Jakob Lehner monocled cobra Naja kaouthia

Head shot of Monocled Cobra (photo courtesy of Jakob Lehner)

monocled cobra Naja kaouthia Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

Monocled Cobra in captivity at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

monocled cobra Naja kaouthia milking closeup

Monocled Cobra being milked at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia fangs

Monocled Cobra showing fangs (photo courtesy of Wolfgang Wuster)

English name: Monocled Cobra (aka “Monocellate Cobra”)
Scientific name: Naja kaouthia
Thai name: Ngu Hao Mo

Description: To 150 cm long. Reasonably thick-bodied snake with smooth scales and the typical cobra “hood” that is only spread with the snake is agitated. Head is large. Body is brown, reddish-brown, greyish-brown, or pale yellow above. In Eastern Bangkok some individuals have indistinct light bands on the body. The namesake “monocle” mark on the back of the neck is widely variable, but usually is circular. In some populations the marking may be absent. Throat is pale and the rest of the underbelly is variable, from a clouded pale coloration to the same color as the top. Underside of neck has a pair of widely separated dark dots that are visible when the snake lifts up its head and spreads its neck, as well as one or two black rings at the bottom of the throat.

Similar Species: Asian Rat Snakes (Ptyas korros and Ptyas mucosus) have larger eyes, longer tails, and lack the markings on the throat and the back of the neck.
Copperhead Racer has a larger eye, lacks the marking on the back of the neck, and has a dark line going down the front of the body and lines radiating from the eye.

Habitat: Found in a wide range of habitats, including grassland, scrubland, forest, rice paddies, swamps, and agricultural land. Can be found near human habitations, even within Bangkok. Prefers habitat associated with water. Usually stays in termite mounds, under houses, or beneath other types of cover during the day.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control rodent populations in Bangkok, as well as frogs, birds, and smaller snakes. Provides food for monitors, larger snakes, and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: The Monocled Cobra is one of the deadliest snakes in Bangkok. Under no circumstances should you handle or harass this snake, as even a young cobra can pack a deadly bite. See “Interesting Facts” for more specifics.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats, as it has a wide distribution and can live close to human habitations. A small number are harvested for their skins, for snake shows, or killed out of fear. Is listed in CITES Appendix II.

Interesting facts: The Monocled Cobra is the most commonly-encountered deadly snake in Bangkok. Most bites occur when people accidentally step on or purposely try to grab a cobra. When the cobra is threatened, it will enter the typical cobra defensive reaction of lifting the front half of its body straight up, spreading out its neck, and hissing. Never approach a cobra in the defensive position. If it is not approached further, it will usually make a hasty retreat.

Cobras have a “neurotoxic” venom that is fast-acting and primarily affects the central nervous system. Initial symptoms are headache, nausea, sleepiness, and disorientation, progressing to difficulty in speech, swallowing, and walking, and eventually complete paralysis. Breathing becomes more difficult as the venom takes effect and death usually results from respiratory failure. Heart failure is also possible from the cardiotoxicity of the venom. Death can occur within 5 to 20 hours without treatment (faster if a vein is bitten), but injection of the correct antivenom will reverse the symptoms if done speedily enough. A quick trip to the nearest hospital will usually save the victim’s life. Artificial respiration may be necessary if the victim’s breathing stops before the antivenom has the chance to be administered or take full effect. Necrosis of the flesh can develop in the days following the bite if the victim survives the initial symptoms.

If you or someone you are with is bitten by a Monocled Cobra, the most important steps are to:

1) Keep the victim calm, having them lie down with the bite mark below the heart if possible.
2) Take a picture of the snake to confirm identification for the hospital.
3) Get the victim to a hospital immediately where professional treatment can take place and antivenom can be given.
4) Start rescue breathing if the victim’s breathing stops and continue until they are in the care of medical professionals.

References:
IUCN Redlist: Naja kaouthia
Wikpedia: Moncled Cobra
The Asiatic Cobra Systematics Page
Siam-Info: Naja
Nature Malaysia: Cobras
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry
Snake Bites and their Treatment
Michael Cota, personal communication

 

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Oriental Rat Snake

Ptyas mucosus

Kevin Messenger hong kong Ptyas mucosus

Oriental Rat Snake in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Kevin Messenger)

Oriental Rat Snake ptyas mucosus taiwan

Oriental Rat Snake on road in Taiwan (photo courtesy of Hans Breuer)

Oriental Rat Snake ptyas mucosus Taiwan defensive display

Oriental Rat Snake expanding neck (photo courtesy of Hans Breuer)

Common Rat Snake Ptyas muscosa

Oriental Rat Snake in tree in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Thomas Brown)

Ptyas mucosa Thomas Brown China

Oriental Rat Snake found at night in China (photo courtesy of Thomas Brown)

Indian Rat Snake Ptyas muscosa

Oriental Rat Snake hiding underground in India

Indian Rat Snake Ptyas muscosa Kolkata water

The same Oriental Rat Snake cruising through a pond in India

oriental rat snake Ptyas mucosus

Oriental Rat Snake at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

oriental rat snake Ptyas mucosus head shot

Head Shot of Oriental Rat Snake

oriental rat snake Ptyas mucosus eating frog

Oriental Rat Snake eating frog at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

English name: Oriental Rat Snake
Scientific name: Ptyas mucosus (formerly Ptyas mucosa)
Thai name: Ngu Sing Hang Lai, Ngu Sing Dong

Description: To 370cm long. The largest snake in Bangkok other than the pythons. Eyes are notably large. Tail is especially long. Body is light brown to black above with narrow black crossbands on the last third of the body that become more indistinct with age. Juveniles are olive and usually have light crossbands on the front two-thirds of the body. Underbelly is grayish white to yellow with thin black banding.

Similar Species: Indo-Chinese Rat Snake lacks the black crossbands on the last third of its body.
Monacled Cobra has smaller eyes, a blunter head, and a characteristic marking on the back of the neck/head that expands when displaying.
Yellow-spotted Keelback has black markings on the entire body.

Habitat: Can be found in almost any habitat from thick jungle to agricultural fields and parks. Appears to prefer open woodland, scrubland, lightly treed grassland, and parks, possibly tending towards drier landscapes than the Indo-Chinese Rat Snake. Spends most of its time on the ground but climbs well and will often sleep in trees. Will enter human dwellings while hunting rats.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Primarily preys on rats and helps control rodent populations in Bangkok. Will also feed on squirrels, bats, frogs, lizards, smaller snakes, birds, and even turtles. Its juveniles provide food for larger snakes, monitors and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: This large snake becomes aggressive and strikes repeatedly when cornered, potentially drawing quite a bit of blood. However, it is completely non-venomous and cannot cause any serious injury.

Conservation status and threats: The Oriental Rat Snake has no known conservation issues in Thailand, but is hunted for its meat. Is listed as Endangered in China. In Indonesia, TRAFFIC has raised official concerns due to the large numbers of Oriental Rat Snakes that are exported out of the country outside of official government regulation.

Interesting facts: When threatened this snake will sometimes inflate its neck and make a growling noise. Some herpetologists believe this is mimicry of the King Cobra, a similarly large southeast Asian snake with an extremely venomous bite. Unfortunately, the attempted mimicry may be counterproductive when done towards humans, as anything thought to be a cobra is likely to be killed.

After capturing a potential prey item, the Oriental Rat Snake will use its body to press the animal against the ground or another hard surface until it suffocates, rather than using its coils to wrap around the food like many other snakes.

References:
Snakes of Taiwan: Ptyas mucosa
University of Hong Kong: Ptyas mucosus
Siam-Info: Rat Snakes
Wikipedia: Ptyas mucosus
Wildlife Watch: Future of Asian snakes at state
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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Indo-Chinese Rat Snake

Ptyas korros

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake Ptyas korros

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake from Taiwan (photo by Hans Breuer)

indo-chinese rat snake ptyas korros thailand

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake found in Khao Sam Roi Yot (photo courtesy of Bernard Dupont)

Ptyas korros  Sa Kaeow Province Michael Cota_files

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake found in Sa Kaeow Province (photo courtesy of Michael Cota)

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake (Ptyas korros)

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake found in Malaysia (Image by Nick Baker, http://www.ecologyasia.com)

Robert Ferguson Ptyas korros

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake found in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Robert Ferguson)

indo-chinese rat snake Ptyas korros

Head shot of Indo-Chinese Rat Snake at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

rat snakes bangkok zoo thailand

Head shot of Indo-Chinese Rat Snakes at the Bangkok Zoo (photo courtesy of Bernard Dupont)

Captive subadult Indo-Chinese Rat Snake Ptyas korros in hands

Subadult Indo-Chinese Rat Snake in Taiwan (photo by Hans Breuer)

IndoChinese Rat Snake Pytas korras

Young Indo-Chinese Rat Snake in Laos (photo courtesy of Thomas Calame)

Indo-Chinese Rat Snake Ptyas korros

Juvenile Indo-Chinese Rat Snake in Chonburi Province (photo courtesy of Ray Hamilton)

English name: Indo-Chinese Rat Snake
Scientific name: Ptyas korros
Thai name: Ngu Sing Ban, Ngu Hao Ta-lan

Description: To 256cm long. One of the largest snakes in Bangkok other than the pythons. Brown or olive above, yellowish on the chin and underbelly. Eyes are notably large. Young juveniles have white bands or spots on body.

Similar Species: Oriental Rat Snake has dark bands on the last third of its body.
Monacled Cobra has smaller eyes, loose skin around the neck, and a characteristic marking on the back of the neck/head that expands when displaying.
All other large brown snakes in Bangkok have characteristic stripes, bands, or other markings on the head or body.

Habitat: Prefers open habitat such as grassland, shrubland, open woodland, agriculture, and the open banks of water bodies. Can be found in trees (especially when resting) and is a good swimmer.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control rodent populations in Bangkok, but also feeds on frogs, lizards, smaller snakes, and birds. Their juveniles provide food for larger snakes, monitors, and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: This large snake is aggressive and can inflict a nasty bite, but it is completely non-venomous and cannot cause any serious injury.

Conservation status and threats: The Indo-Chinese Rat Snake has no known conservation issues in Thailand, but is hunted for its meat and gallbladder and is listed as endangered in China.

Interesting facts: When captured this snake will thrash its body about violently, which together with its large size makes it very difficult to handle.

References:
Siam-Info: Rat Snakes
Nature Malaysia: Indo Chinese Rat Snake
Snakes of Taiwan: Ptyas korros
University of Hong Kong: Ptyas korros
Nam Kading Research & Training Centre: Indo-Chinese Rat Snake
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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Indo-Chinese Sand Snake

Psammophis indochinensis

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake found in Chiang Mai Province (photo courtesy of Paul Donatus)

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand

View of Indo-Chinese Sand Snake from above (photo courtesy of Paul Donatus)

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand

Head shot of Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (photo courtesy of Paul Donatus)

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis condenarus)

Captive-bred Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (photo courtesy of http://save-snakes.com)

English name: Indo-Chinese Sand Snake
Scientific name: Psammophis indochinensis (formerly known as Psammophis condanarus indochinensis)
Thai name: Ngu Man-tong

Description: To 107cm long. A slender snake with an oval head. Its upper body is olive to buff with four dark brown stripes, splitting the body evenly into dark and light stripes. Underbelly is yellow with a thin black line bordering each side.

Similar Species: Painted Bronzeback has a black stripe on its side that goes through the eye, a much broader brown area on its back, and a white underbelly.
Buff-striped Keelback lacks the brown stripes on the side of the light stripes, and has dark bands all along the body.
Striped Kukri Snake has a light stripe down the middle of its back, has less distinct striping, has characteristic dark markings on its head, and has a red or pink underbelly.
Rainbow Water Snake is much thicker, is darker with less distinct striping, and is almost always found in the water.

Habitat: Lives in moist open woodland, scrubland, grassland, and agricultural land. Is often found climbing trees and bushes, but will also rest in burrows.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Indo-Chinese Sand Snake helps control rodent, frog and lizard populations. It also feeds on smaller snakes. This snake is eaten by larger snakes, birds of prey, and monitors.

Danger to humans: Has rear fangs but is not dangerous to humans. The bite may cause some swelling.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats – lives over a wide range and appears to be able to adapt well to human-altered habitat. However, it is rarely seen in the Bangkok area.

Interesting facts: The Indo-Chinese Sand Snake gets its name from its use of habitats with sandy soils, where it takes shelter in the burrows of other animals.

References:
IUCN Red List: Psammophis condanarus
Thailand Snakes! IndoChinese Sand Snake
Michael Cota, personal communication
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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Striped Kukri Snake

Oligodon taeniatus

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus) juvenile

Juvenile Striped Kukri Snake flipped under log in Chatuchak

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus) head view

Head shot of Striped Kukri Snake from above

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus) ventral view

Ventral view of Striped Kukri Snake

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus)

Tail of juvenile Striped Kukri Snake, raised in defensive position

Oligodon taeniatus   Michael Cota Rangsit_files

Striped Kukri Snake found in Rangsit (photo courtesy of Michael Cota)

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus)

Striped Kukri Snake found in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser) http://www.naturestills.com

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus)

Tail shot of Striped Kukri Snake (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser) http://www.naturestills.com

Striped Kukri Snake Oligodon taeniatus ventral view

Striped Kukri Snake in Sisaket Province (photo courtesy of Wolfgang Wuster)

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus)

Striped Kukri Snake found in bathroom in Payao Province (Photo courtesy of Phillip Orchard)

View from above showing dorsal stripe and head markings (Photo courtesy of Phillip Orchard)

English name: Striped Kukri Snake (aka “Four-lined Kukri Snake”)
Scientific name: Oligodon taeniatus
Thai name: Ngu Ngod Thai

Description: To 45 cm long. This small snake gets its name from the light stripe that runs down its back, which is bordered on either side by a dark line. It also has a thin dark stripe on each side of its body. Background coloration is grey to brown. Underbelly is pink or orangish-red with black markings. There is a dark line that goes through both eyes and three dark blotches positioned on top of the head behind the eyes.

Similar Species: Banded Kukri Snake has transverse blotches rather than stripes and lacks the pattern of dark blotches on the head.
Indo-Chinese Sand Snake has stripes on the side that are lighter than the back, lacks the characteristic dark markings on top of the head, and has a yellow underbelly.
Asian Water Snakes Homalopsinae have thicker bodies and broader heads.

Habitat: Lowland forest, where it will usually hide under stones, wood, or leaves. Can often be found in parks and gardens.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control lizard populations in Bangkok, especially small skinks. Also eats frogs and the eggs of birds and other reptiles. Provides food for larger snakes and monitors.

Danger to humans: No danger to humans – is small and has no venom.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats.

Interesting facts: As a defensive display the Striped Kukri Snake will raise and curl its tail to reveal the red coloration underneath. This may be an attempt to mimic the display of southeast Asian coral snakes.

Kukri snakes have teeth that are specially modified to slice open bird, lizard, turtle, and snake eggs, which form an important part of their diet.

References:
Thai Biodiversity: Oligodon taeniatus
The Reptile Database: Oligodon taeniatus
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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Banded Kukri Snake

Oligodon fasciolatus

Banded Kukri Snake (Oligodon fasciolatus) khao yai thailand

Banded Kukri Snake found in Khao Yai (photo courtesy of Bernard DuPont)

Banded Kukri Snake (Oligodon fasciolatus) khao yai thailand

Head shot of Banded Kukri Snake (photo courtesy of Bernard DuPont)

Oligodon fasciolatus Michael Cota_files

Banded Kukri Snake found in Thailand (photo courtesy of Michael Cota)

Sattahip District Ray Hamilton Banded Kukri Snake

Banded Kukri Snake found in Chonburi Province (photo courtesy of Ray Hamilton)

Banded Kukri Snake Oligodon fasciolatus found on path

Banded Kukri Snake found on running path at night in Chatuchak

Banded Kukri Snake Oligodon fasciolatus side view

Side view of Banded Kukri Snake

Banded Kukri Snake Oligodon fasciolatus head shot

Banded Kukri Snake head shot

Juvenile Banded Kukri Snake (Oligodon fasciolatus)

Juvenile Banded Kukri Snake found under log in Chatachuk

Juvenile Banded Kukri Snake (Oligodon fasciolatus) in defensive position

Juvenile Banded Kukri Snake in defensive position

banded kukri Oligodon fasciolatus

Banded Kukri Snake at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

English name: Banded Kukri Snake
Scientific name: Oligodon fasciolatus
Thai name: Ngu Pi-kaeo Lai Tae

Description: To 88 cm long. One of the largest kukri snakes, the Banded Kukri Snake is fairly robust with a short head. Its body can be either brown, yellowish-olive, red, or gray. Dark blotches are found on the body at wide intervals, separated by small dark crossbars which in some individuals diffuse into a reticulated pattern. The head has an eyestripe that runs through both eyes and all the way down below the jaw, as well as another pair of marks extending behind the eyes. The underbelly is reddish when the snake is young, but fades to white by adulthood.

Similar Species: Striped Kukri Snake has stripes rather than transverse bands.
Common Wolf Snake has indistinct white bands and a yellowish collar around the neck.
Asian Water Snakes (subfamily Homalopsinae) have thicker bodies and broader heads.

Habitat: Evergreen forest, parks, and agriculture.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Will feed on eggs, lizards, frogs, and small rodents. Provides food for larger snakes.

Danger to humans: No danger to humans.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats.

Interesting facts: Kukri snakes have sharp rear teeth that are specially modified to slice open bird, lizard, turtle, and snake eggs, which form an important part of their diet.

References:
Nature Malaysia: Banded Kukri Snake
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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Common Wolf Snake

Lycodon capucinus

Kevin Messenger hong kong common wolf snake

Common Wolf Snake found in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Kevin Messenger)

Tom Charlton Common Wolf Snake Komodo Island

Common Wolf Snake found on Komodo Island (photo courtesy of Tom Charlton)

Wolf House Snake (Lycodon capucinus)

Common Wolf Snake found in Singapore (photo courtesy of David Greonewoud)

Wolf House Snake (Lycodon capucinus)

Common Wolf Snake in Thailand (photo courtesy of Michael Cota)

Common House Snake Lycodon capucinus

Common Wolf Snake found in Singapore (Image by Nick Baker, http://www.ecologyasia.com)

Common House Snake (Lycodon capucinus)

Common Wolf Snake found in house in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Kurt orionmystery Common Wolf Snake Malaysia 1

Common Wolf Snake found in Malaysia http://orionmystery.blogspot.com

Kurt orionmystery Common Wolf Snake Malaysia 1

Head shot of Common Wolf Snake showing collar http://orionmystery.blogspot.com

Common Wolf Snake (Lycodon capucinus)

Head shot of Common Wolf Snake in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser) http://naturestills.com

Common House Snake Lycodon capucinus head shot

Common Wolf Snake in Khao Phra Thaew (photo courtesy of http://khaophrathaew.org/)

English name: Common Wolf Snake (aka: “Common House Snake”, “House Wolf Snake”)
Scientific name: Lycodon capucinus
Thai name: Ngu Soi-luan

Description: To 76cm long. A small snake of average girth. Head is somewhat flattened. Body is brown to brownish purple with very indistinct pale to yellowish bands that sometimes meld together into reticulations of brown, white, and yellow. Head is brown with pale yellow lips and a pale yellow collar around the neck. Underbelly is whitish to yellow.

Similar Species: Sunbeam Snake also has a white collar as a juvenile, but lacks markings on the rest of the body and has strongly iridescent scales.
Common Bridle Snake is more slender and vertically compressed with more distinct white blotches.
Asian Water Snakes (subfamily Homalopsinae) have thicker bodies and broader heads.
Banded Krait has very distinct, broad dark and light bands and a triangular-shaped body.

Habitat: Naturally found in forest, but has become common in urban areas near small pockets of trees. The Common Wolf Snake is often found inside homes, where it preys on geckos and small rodents. It is semi-arboreal and can be seen climbing walls at night.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Common Wolf Snake helps control lizard populations, especially geckos and skinks. It also feeds on frogs, small mice and baby rats in the home. This snake is eaten by larger snakes and monitors.

Danger to humans: This small snake is completely harmless to humans.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats. The Common Wolf Snake was recently found to have colonized Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, where it is negatively impacting local skink populations and is regarded as an invasive species.

Interesting facts: The Common Wolf Snake has a number of special adaptations in its teeth that may help it to swallow hard-bodied, smooth prey like the skinks it eats. These include enlarged front teeth to help encircle the skink and prevent it from getting out of the mouth, short spatulate middle teeth to help catch under the skink’s scales, and long blade-like rear teeth to slice through the hard scales of the skink.

References:
Nature Malaysia: House Wolf Snake
Ecology Asia: Common House Snake
Siam-Info: Lycodon
Dentitional specialisations for durophagy in the Common Wolf snake, Lycodon aulicus capucinus
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand</a
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Snakes of South Vietnam
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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Painted Bronzeback

Dendrelaphis pictus

Painted Bronzeback Treesnake (Dendrelaphis pictus)

Painted Bronzeback found in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser) http://www.naturestills.com

Painted Bronzeback Tree snake (Dendrelaphis pictus)

Closeup of Painted Bronzeback (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser) http://www.naturestills.com

Painted Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus

Painted Bronzeback found in Krabi Province (photo courtesy of Tom Charlton) http://www.venomlogic.com

Painted Bronzeback Common Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus in Sumutra

Painted Bronzeback in Sumutra (photo courtesy of Curtis Hart)

Painted Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus Singapore

Painted Bronzeback found in tree in Singapore (photo courtesty of Ria Tan)

Common Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis pictus)

Painted Bronzeback found in Singapore (Image by Nick Baker) http://www.ecologyasia.com

Thomas Calame Painted Bronzeback Laos

Painted Bronzeback found in Laos (photo courtesy of Thomas Calame)

Common Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus

Painted Bronzeback found in Malaysia (photo courtesy of Tom Charlton) http://www.venomlogic.com

Painted Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus

Head shot of Painted Bronzeback (photo courtesy of Tom Charlton) http://www.venomlogic.com

Painted Bronzeback Snake (Dendrelaphis pictus) with ticks Kurt

Head shot of Painted Bronzeback in Malaysia http://orionmystery.blogspot.com

English name: Painted Bronzeback (aka: “Common Bronzeback”)
Scientific name: Dendrelaphis pictus
Thai name: Ngu Sai-man Pra Inthra

Description: To 125 cm long. A long, slender snake. Body is olive or brown above with a yellow to cream line running down its side and a thicker black line just above it. Head is bronze above and yellowish below, with a black eyestripe between that connects to the black body line. Belly is pale yellowish.

Similar Species: Indo-Chinese Sand Snake lacks the black line and has yellow lines positioned in the brown background such that the yellow and brown striping have roughly the same width.
Copperhead Racer lacks the yellow stripe and has dark lines radiating from its eye.

Habitat: Found in forests, scrubland, parks, and agriculture. Will sometimes be seen on the edge of small clearings or in other habitat transitions that get more sunlight. Is partially arboreal and often found in bushes or small trees.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control frog and lizard populations. Provides food for larger snakes and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: Will bite if threatened but is not dangerous to humans.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats.

Interesting facts: The Painted Bronzeback is quick and flighty and will usually flee immediately when approached. If it is cornered and can no longer flee it will inflate its body, showing off the bluish skin under its scales on its neck.

References:
Ecology Asia: Painted Bronzeback
Nature Malaysia: Common Bronzeback
Wikipedia: Painted Bronzeback
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand</a
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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Copperhead Racer

Coelognathus radiatus

Coelognathus radiatus_Daniel Rosenberg Hong Kong

Copperhead Racer in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Daniel Rosenberg)

Copperhead Racer India

Copperhead Racer found in India (photo courtesy of Pranoy Kishore)

Radiated Rat Snake Vietnam Eduard Galoyan

Copperhead Racer in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Eduard Galoyan)

copperhead racer Coelognathus radiata

Copperhead Racer at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

Krabi_King_Cobra_Show_7 Copperhead Racer Randy Ciuros

Copperhead Racer at a Krabi snake show (photo courtesy of Randy Ciuros)

Copperhead Rat Snake (Coelognathus radiatus)

Copperhead Racer in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser) http://www.naturestills.com

Copperheaded Racer Coelognathus radiata striking position

Copperhead Racer in striking position in Khao Phra Thaew (photo courtesy of http://khaophrathaew.org/)

Copperheaded Racer Coelognathus radiata head shot

Copperhead Racer head shot showing expanded neck (photo courtesy of http://khaophrathaew.org/)

Copperhead Racer Coelognathus radiatus playing dead

Copperhead Racer playing dead in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Kevin Caldwell)

Copperhead Racer 3-9-11 near Oh Nut BTS (3)

Juvenile Copperhead Racer found in office in Phra Khanong

English name: Copperhead Racer (aka “Radiated Rat Snake”)
Scientific name: Coelognathus radiatus (formerly Elaphe radiata)
Thai name: Ngu Tang-ma-prao Lai Keet

Description: To 230 cm long. One of the larger snakes in Bangkok. Body light brown in the front, fading to a yellowish or orangish tan toward the back of the body. Two prominent black stripes run down the first half of each side of the body. Three black lines radiate back from the eye, two slanting downwards and the other running up until it hits a black collar at the back of the head.

Similar Species: Asian Rat Snakes (Ptyas korros and Ptyas mucosus) lack the black stripes on the front half of the body and the unique markings on the head.
Painted Bronzeback has a yellow-to-cream stripe on its body and lacks the markings on the head.
Monocled Cobra lacks the striping on the front half o the body and lacks the markings around the eye.

Habitat: Prefers open grassland and shrubland, but is also found in forests and agricultural habitats. Can be found in urban areas, even where there is only a small pocket of natural habitat. I found a juvenile in a dentist’s office with only an overgrown lot nearby.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Copperhead Racer feeds on rats and mice and helps to control Bangkok’s rodent populations. It also eats birds, lizards, and frogs. Juveniles of the species provide food for larger snakes and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: This snake is aggressive when threatened and is large enough to inflict some damage with its bite. A recent study has found that it produces some venom, quite similar to the venom of cobras. However, it only produces a small amount of venom and does not have venom-injecting fangs, so effects in humans are limited to redness and mild swelling at worst.

Conservation status and threats: In Thailand this snake is common with no known conservation issues, but it is listed as Endangered on the China Red List.

Interesting facts: The Copperhead Racer is a very fast snake that will first try to flee when threatened, but when cornered will lift the first third of its body off the ground, curl its neck and body into an “S” shape, expand its neck vertically and strike aggressively with its mouth open. If that fails, it will sometimes proceeds to play dead as a last resort.

References:
Siam-Info: Coelognathus
Nature Malaysia: Copperhead Racer
University of Hong Kong: Coelognathus radiatus
Isolation of a neurotoxin (alpha-colubritoxin) from a nonvenomous colubrid
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Snakes of South Vietnam

 

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Yellow-spotted Keelback

Xenochrophis flavipunctatus

Yellow-spotted Keelback Xenochrophis flavipunctatus on road

Yellow-spotted Keelback found at dusk near ponds in Payao Province

Yellow-spotted Keelback Xenocropis flavipunctus

Yellow-spotted Keelback found on edge of marsh in Prawet

Yellow-spotted Keelback head Xenocropis flavipunctus

Head shot of Yellow-spotted Keelback

Michael Cota Xenochrophis flavipunctatus Pathum Thani

Yellow-spotted Keelback found in Pathum Thani (photo courtesy of Michael Cota)

Yellow-spotted Keelback Xenocropis flavipunctus Vietnam Alex Krohn 1

Yellow-spotted Keelback trapped in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Yellow-spotted Keelback Xenocropis flavipunctus Vietnam Alex Krohn 2

Yellow-spotted Keelback rearing head in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Yellow-spotted Keelback Xenocropis flavipunctus Vietnam Alex Krohn

Head shot of Yellow-spotted Keelback in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

juvenile Common Keelback Xenochrophis flavipunctatus neck

Juvenile Yellow-spotted Keelback found under board in Suan Luang

Michael Cota Xenochrophis flavipunctatus juvenile Nakhon Ratchasima

Juvenile Yellow-spotted Keelback found in Nakhon Ratchasima (photo courtesy of Michael Cota)

Ray Hamilton Xenochrophis flavipunctatus juvenile Sattahip

Juvenile Yellow-spotted Keelback found in Chonburi Province (photo courtesy of Ray Hamilton)

English name: Yellow-spotted Keelback (aka “Common Keelback”)
Scientific name: Xenochrophis flavipunctatus (formerly known as Xenochrophis piscator)
Thai name: Ngu Lai-so Suan, Ngu Daeng Hae

Description: Up to 120cm long. Body is roughly cylindrical and of average girth. Eyes are large. Has an olive-brown background coloration with various black streaks and blotches and a row of small yellow or white dots down each side. Two black streaks come down and back from the eye. Juveniles have a characteristic yellow mark on their neck that fades with age.

Similar Species: Checkered Keelback has a black checker pattern on an olive-brown background. It is a close relative and was once considered to be the same species.
Red-necked Keelback is more colorful and has a characteristic red neck. Juvenile Red-necked Keelbacks, which may not have developed the red neck yet, have a large black marking on the back of their neck that juvenile Yellow-spotted Keelbacks do not have.
Asian Water Snakes (subfamily Homalopsinae) generally have broader heads, smaller eyes, and much thicker bodies.
Oriental Rat Snake lacks black markings on the front half of its body.

Habitat: In or near marshes, ponds, or rice patties, sometimes in the middle of urban areas. The Yellow-spotted Keelback is a a strong swimmer.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Yellow-spotted Keelback eats fish, frogs, and rodents, helping to control mouse and rat populations in the city. The juveniles are eaten by larger snakes and birds.

Danger to humans: Will bite aggressively when provoked and can draw blood, but is not dangerous to humans. Though it has no venom glands, some people report itching and slight swelling after a bite.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats.

Interesting facts: The Yellow-spotted Keelback will often swallow its prey immediately upon catching it, without constricting or using any other means to kill the prey. As a result, prey is sometimes swallowed live, and some sources report frogs still vocalizing from within the snake.

References:
Snakes of Taiwan: Xenochrophis piscator
On the taxonomy of the Xenochrophis piscator complex
Siam-Info: Water Snakes
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World

 

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