Boiga multomaculata

Many-spotted Cat Snake Boiga multomaculata งูแม่ตะงาวรังนก thailand
Many-spotted Cat Snake in Nakhon Ratchasima (© Alex Heimerdinger)

English name: Many-spotted Cat Snake (aka: “Large-spotted Cat Snake”, “Marble Cat Snake”)
Scientific name: Boiga multomaculata
Thai name: งูแม่ตะงาวรังนก (Ngu Me-ta-ngao Rang-nok)

Description: To 187 cm long. Body is slender and higher than it is wide. Tail is especially long. Color on top is grayish-brown with two alternating series of dark brown blotches on the back and two smaller rows of dark spots on the sides. Head is large compared to body and somewhat triangular with a black arrow-like marking on top and a black streak from each eye to the corner of the mouth. Eye has a vertical pupil. Underbelly is paler and marked with brown.

Relevant scale counts: 17-19 smooth midbody scale rows. Ventrals 196-245, subcaudals 72-111.

Similar Species: Russell’s Viper, a deadly species, can be confused with the Many-spotted Cat Snake due to its similar markings. However, Russell’s Viper has a thicker body, a broader head, and is rarely found in trees.
Mangrove Pit Viper, another venomous species, has a thicker body, a broader head, and larger, less distinct blotches.

Range: From northeast India and Bangladesh east through Myanmar, southern China, and southeast Asia south to Malaysia and Indonesia.

Habitat: Lives in well-watered woodland, scrubland, and treed grassland up to 1500m elevation. Is almost always found in trees or bushes.

Place in the ecosystem: The Many-spotted Cat Snake eats lizards, especially geckos. Will also eat small birds and eggs on occasion. It is fed on by larger snakes and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: This snake is not known to be dangerous to humans. Though it is rear-fanged, it usually kills its prey via constriction. If it is able to chew on a person long enough, it is possible that the venom could cause a minor allergic reaction, leading to swelling and itching.

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 Many-spotted Cat Snake will shake its tail when threatened, sometimes frightening people into thinking that it is a venomous viper.

The Many-spotted Cat Snake’s long Thai name refers both to its resemblance to Russell’s Viper (“Me-ta-ngao”) and to its tendency to take eggs and young birds from “bird’s nests” (“Rang-nok”). Thus one way of translating its Thai name could be “Bird’s Nest Snake like Russell’s Viper”.

References:
Thai National Parks: Many-spotted Cat Snake
Wikipedia: Boiga multomaculata
University of Hong Kong: Boiga multomaculata
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Snakes of South Vietnam
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia