English name: Many-spotted Cat Snake (aka: “Large-spotted Cat Snake”, “Marble Cat Snake”)
Scientific name: Boiga multomaculata
Thai name: Ngu Me-ta-ngao Rang-no
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.
Similar Species: Russell’s Viper, a deadly local species, is often 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 has a thicker body, a broader head, and larger, less distinct blotches.
Habitat: Lives in well-watered woodland, scrubland, and treed grassland. Is almost always found in trees or bushes. Only active at night.
Contribution to the ecosystem: The Many-spotted Cat Snake helps control lizard populations, especially geckos. Will also eat small birds and eggs on occasion. It provides food for larger snakes and birds of prey.
Danger to humans: This is a rear-fanged snake but it 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 to work its rear fangs in, 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”.
Wikipedia: Boiga multomaculata
Venomous Asians: Boiga multomaculata
University of Hong Kong: Boiga multomaculata
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
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia