Chiang Mai City Herping

26 Dec

During the weeks I spent in Chiang Mai, I made sure to do a good bit of city herping. Though Chiang Mai isn’t nearly as built up as Bangkok, the assemblage of reptiles and amphibians that can be found in the area is quite similar. Whether an area looks like good wildlife habitat or not, there’s a good chance there will be some herps there if you look close enough.

The guesthouse we stayed at had the typical lizard and frog diversity. Both of the common agamid species and the most common skink species were around:

Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard (Calotes mystaceus)

Oriental Garden Lizard (Calotes versicolor)

Bowring’s Supple Skink (Lygosoma bowringi)

Streamside Skink (Sphenomorphus maculatus)

I flipped this gecko just before flipping an Asian Giant Honeybee nest.

Stump-toed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata)

Various common species of frogs could be found under objects during the day:

Common Indian Toad and toadlet (Duttaphrynus melanostictus)

Inornate Froglets (Micryletta inornata)

Asian Grass Frog (Fejervarya limnocharis)

At one point a gardener cutting grass knocked on my room to tell me he’d found a snake (I’d gotten a reputation by this point). I found that it was actually a caecilian hiding in the long grass! Quite an unexpected find for the daytime. The caecilian had been partially injured by what he was cutting grass with, but the injury was very superficial and I had hope that it would make it.

Yellow-striped Caecilian (Ichthyophis kohtaoensis)

Some treats were the occasional snakes that passed through the property. I caught an Assam Mountain Snake – unfortunately when I didn’t have my camera around! I had other people report to me that they saw what I think were a Sunbeam Snake (I later found one that had died naturally) and some species of kukri snake. The property owner had seen two pythons (a 9-footer and a 14-footer) in his ten years there. But the only snake species I got pictures of were the Golden Tree Snakes, of which I saw several.

Golden Tree Snakes (Chrysopelea ornata)

Golden Tree Snake Chrysopelea ornata

Here’s a few arthropods from the area:

Asian Giant Honeybee


Jumping Spider


insane web – picture doesn’t do justice to its complexity

Large scorpion


At night the geckos came out.

Siamese Leaf-toed Geckos (Dixonius siamensis)

Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko)

Spiny-tailed House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus)

Flat-tailed House Gecko (Hemidactylus platyurus)

There were also a few more frog species at night, especially around the fish ponds.

Four-lined Treefrog (Polypedates leucomystax)

Inornate Froglet (Micryletta inornata) – first one I’ve ever seen without flipping

Asian Painted Frog (Kaloula pulchra)

Chinese Edible Frog (Hoplobatrachus rugulosus)

Ornate Narrowmouth Frog (Microhyla fissipes)

The best spot for amphibians was a small temporary marsh just across the street from the guesthouse. During the tail end of the rainy season there were several species of frogs breeding in it.

Four-lined Treefrog and froglet (Polypedates leucomystax)

Asian Painted Froglets (Kaloula pulchra)

Round-tongued Floating Frog (Occidozyga martensii)

Quite surprisingly, here I spotted a hybrid between a Chinese Edible Frog and an American Bullfrog. Hybrids like this are a result of the frog farming industry, and may be a threat to local wildlife.

One night I flipped two boards on the edge of a marsh. The second one had a gorgeous caecilian under it! I’d seen over twenty DOR caecilians in northern Thailand by this point, but it is always exciting to find a live one. It was a beautiful specimen too.

Yellow-striped Caecilian (Ichthyophis kohtaoensis)

At night I would take bike rides into the countryside in order to look for snakes. Unfortunately, despite a lot of time staring at maps and Google Earth looking for good habitat, I could never find a live snake. I think there was just too much traffic. I saw dead-on-the-road Sunbeam Snakes, Rainbow Water Snakes, Yellow-bellied Water Snakes, and Yellow-spotted Keelbacks. But the only live things I saw were frogs, arthropods, and 0.5 seconds of a caecilian.

Why only 0.5 seconds? I was riding my bike down a road and let a car pass me. As it passed me, I took advantage of its headlights to see…a caecilian crossing the road. I internally screamed “NOOOOOO!!!” as the car nailed it. The caecilian was still alive when I got up to it, but died seconds later. Of the 30+ caecilians I’ve seen, 2 were alive and intact, 2 were injured and may have died later, this one died, and the other 30 or so were already dead on the road.

Yellow-striped Caecilian (Ichthyophis kohtaoensis)

Here are a few invertebrates seen on my night rides:

Siamese Rhinoceros Beetle (Xylotropias gideon)

lots of big Huntsman Spiders, but I think this is the largest one I saw

A common sight on rainy nights

One of the last things I did during my time in Chiang Mai was dig out a huge mulch pile of lawn waste. Some of the guesthouse workers had seen a large snake (probably a big rat snake) disappear into the pile. We didn’t find the rat snake – instead, all we found were a few small frogs, some invertebrates, and this caecilian:

A nice way to end my time in Chiang Mai!


Posted by on December 26, 2014 in Herping adventures


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5 responses to “Chiang Mai City Herping

  1. Elliot Weir

    August 4, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    where did you find all of the snakes and caecilians? and how? Do yu have special equipment? I have only seen 1 snake in the months that I have been here? Any tips?

    • Asian Herp Blogs

      August 7, 2015 at 11:05 am

      The caecilians I primarily saw on the southeast corner of the city and to the southeast of the city. The snakes I saw pretty much anywhere (though not within the city walls), but most of all on Doi Suthep/Doi Pui.

      I’ve seen caecilians crossing roads, under a board in a marsh, moving through wet grass, and in a mulch pile. I usually see snakes near streams or crossing roads, though I’ve found them various other places too. The key is spending a lot of time in areas that snakes might be, and learning through experiences what kinds of places they are most likely to be found and what times (both time of day/night, time of year, and certain weather) when they’re most likely to be active.

      I don’t use any special equipment, except for a nice handlamp at night.

  2. klaus

    August 29, 2015 at 3:36 am

    Thanks for this, I will be in Chiang mai next week, would be nice to find a Caecilian, fingers crossed 🙂

    • Asian Herp Blogs

      August 29, 2015 at 11:03 am

      good luck!

      • klaus

        August 29, 2015 at 6:39 pm

        Thanks 🙂


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