One day in October I was helping a friend pick up his kids from school near Silom. On the property of the school I saw some nice looking greenhouse habitat behind a building. Knowing that even small bits of habitat can hold herps in Bangkok, I went over to take a look.
Just as I was approaching the plants, a small green snake scooted away from me as fast as it could go! From its speed I guessed that it wasn’t a Long-nosed Whip Snake like I had seen before, and it seemed unlikely to be a Pit Viper. That left Golden Tree Snake as the most likely identification, but I couldn’t be sure. (Look at the “Green Snakes” section of “Identifying Snakes” to see the choices I had available.)
When a snake finds a spot that it likes, it sometimes stays within a very small area, taking advantage of the warmth, cover, humidity, food items, or whatever else attracted it to that spot in the first place. So a few weeks later I was passing by the spot again and decided to check it out. I took advantage of the semi-public property and the friendliness of Thai security guards, and wandered back behind the building. After extensive searching, I found…nothing.
Not to be deterred, I came back again a month later in December. I carefully snuck up on the same spot where I had first seen the snake (I didn’t want it fleeing before I got a good look again). This time it was right there in the same place! It fled again, but tried to hide in the dirt of a massive flower pot. After a bit of digging, I had my first Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata). Like the other snakes I had seen so far, it was a little juvenile:
This brings up the interesting point that the first snakes (other than blind snakes) that I found in Bangkok were all small juveniles. That is not just a coincidence. Snakes tend to have lots of offspring, and most of them don’t survive to adulthood. So at any point in time, especially after young snakes are born, there are probably more juveniles around than adults. Also, the juveniles are usually exploring, trying to find a territory for themselves, and so they can show up in new and unexpected places. Any adults that have survived long enough to get big probably have a very safe and hidden space picked out for themselves. Unfortunately, in a crowded place like Bangkok where many people kill any snake they see, this trend is even more true. The large adult snakes in this city are few and far between.
If you spot a snake once, be observant and persistent, and you might get to see it again.