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Category Archives: Rat, Tree, and Whip Snakes

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)

Oriental Rat Snake  Ptyas mucosus

Oriental Rat Snake as found in forest in India

Indian Rat Snake Ptyas muscosa Kolkata water

Oriental Rat Snake cruising through a pond in India

Oriental Rat Snake  Ptyas mucosus

Juvenile Oriental Rat Snake caught in lake in India

oriental rat snake Ptyas mucosus head shot

Head Shot of Oriental Rat Snake at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

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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Common Bridle Snake

Dryocalamus davisonii

Common Bridle Snake (Dryocalamus davisonii)

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

Dryocalamus davisonii  Common Bridle Snake Thailand

Common Bridle Snake in Thailand (photo courtesy of Alexandre Roux)

Common Bridle Snake (Dryocalamus davisonii)

Common Bridle Snake in Laos (photo courtesy of Thomas Calame)

Dryocalamus davisonii  Common Bridle Snake Thailand

Head shot of Common Bridle Snake (photo courtesy of Alexandre Roux)

Common Bridle Snake (Dryocalamus davidsonii)

Common Bridle Snake in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser) http://www.naturestills.com

Common Bridle Snake (Dryocalamus davidsonii)

Head shot of Common Bridle Snake (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser) http://www.naturestills.com

Blanford's Bridal Snake Dryocalamus davisonii

Common Bridle Snake found dead on road in Uttaradit Province (photo courtesy of Sjon Hauser)

English name: Common Bridle Snake (aka: “Blanford’s Bridal Snake”)
Scientific name: Dryocalamus davisonii
Thai name: Ngu Plong-chanuan India

Description: To 92cm long. A very slender, vertically narrow snake with a long tail and a depressed head. Body is black with white or pale green crossbands that get closer together as they break up into a reticulated pattern towards the tail. Head is mostly white with a black snout and a narrow black line that runs down the middle of the head towards the body. Underbelly is white.

Similar Species: Common Wolf Snake is not as slender, is wider than it is high, and has less distinct banding.
Banded Krait has a thicker, triangular body. Its light and dark bands are of equal width and remain distinct throughout the body.

Habitat: This forest species is semi-arboreal and can be found in bushes and trees as well as on the ground. Is rather secretive and only comes out at night.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Common Bridle Snake helps control lizard populations, mostly feeding on geckos. It is eaten by larger snakes.

Danger to humans: This snake rarely bites and is not dangerous to humans.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats. It is not commonly seen in the Bangkok area.

Interesting facts: The Common Bridle Snake and its relatives are referred to as “bridle snakes” due to their narrow bodies and banded coloration, which makes them appear similar to the bridles (reins) used to control horses.

References:
Siam-Info: Dryocalamus
The Reptile Database: Dryocalamus davisonii
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
A Field Guide to the Snakes of South Vietnam

 

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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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Golden Tree Snake

Chrysopelea ornata

Golden Tree Snake Chrysopelea ornata among plants

Juvenile Golden Tree Snake found among ornamental plants in Silom

Ornate Flying Snake Chrysopelea ornata head shot

Head shot of Golden Tree Snake

Golden Tree Snake Chrysopelea ornata killed Cambodia

Golden Tree Snake found dead in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Ornate Flying Snake Chrysopelea ornata  killed Cambodia

Wound on deceased Golden Tree Snake, likely human-inflicted

Golden Tree Snake Chrysopelea ornata

Head shot of Golden Tree Snake (photo courtesy of Ray Hamilton)

Golden Flying Snake Chrysopelea ornata subadult

Subadult Golden Tree Snake in Chonburi Province (photo courtesy of Ray Hamilton)

Golden Tree Snake Chrysopelea ornata head shot

Head shot of Golden Tree Snake in Khao Phra Thaew (photo courtesy of http://khaophrathaew.org/)

golden-tree-snake-nick-baker-krabi

Golden Tree Snake in Krabi (Image by Nick Baker, http://www.ecologyasia.com)

Golden Tree Snake Chrysopelea ornata

Subadult Golden Tree Snake found at guesthouse in Chiang Mai Province

Green Tree Snake Chrysopelea ornata (Flying Snake)

Head shot of subadult Golden Tree Snake

English name: Golden Tree Snake (aka “Ornate Flying Snake”)
Scientific name: Chrysopelea ornata
Thai name: Ngu Kieo Lai Dok-mak

Description: To 140cm long. A long, somewhat slender snake. Is unusual in that it has keeled ventral scales, which help it to climb trees. Body is green to greenish-yellow with black markings. Head is black and green above the eye and light green below. Underbelly is greenish-yellow to light green.

Similar Species: Whip snakes (Ahaetulla nasuta and Ahaetulla prasina) have a characteristic pointed snout and more slender bodies.
Green pit vipers (Cryptelytrops albolabris and Cryptelytrops macrops) have a triangular head and pits behind their nostrils and lack the black coloration.

Habitat: Naturally a forest species, but has adapted well to agricultural areas, parks, yards and gardens. Is almost totally arboreal and can climb to significant heights in trees or even the walls of buildings.

Contribution to the ecosystem: This snake helps control Bangkok’s lizard populations, and also feeds on bats, mice, and smaller snakes. The juveniles provide food for birds of prey and larger snakes.

Danger to humans: The Golden Tree Snake bites aggressively when captured and is another one of Bangkok’s mildly venomous rear-fanged snakes, but its venom appears to pose no danger to humans. One should always be careful not to confuse it with the more venomous vipers.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation issues. This species has adapted well to human encroachment and is one of Bangkok’s more common snakes. However, they are often killed by people who mistakenly believe them to be dangerous. I found a dead adult Golden Tree Snake on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia that appeared to have been killed by a human.

Interesting facts: The Golden Tree Snake is one of the few “flying snakes”. These snakes cannot actually fly, but glide to some degree by flattening out their body, forming a U-shaped cavity with their underbelly, and twisting in the air as they jump from high branches. It is believed that this behavior is used to move about the forest, catch prey, and as a defense mechanism against predators. They can cover as much as 100m in a single leap if they start from a tall enough tree.

References:
Siam-Info: Tree Snakes
Nature Malaysia: Golden Tree Snake
Snakes of Thailand: Golden Tree Snake
Ecology Asia: Golden Tree 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 Snakes of South Vietnam

 

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