Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Identifying Cat Snakes in Thailand

Cat Snakes are a group of long slender snakes perfectly adapted to night hunting in the trees. Their rounded heads and vertical pupils distinguish them from the diurnal arboreal species in the area such as Whip Snakes, Tree Snakes, and Bronzebacks.

Cat Snakes have a great variety of patterns which can cause them to be mistaken for other snakes, especially venomous ones. The Mangrove Cat Snake has the black-and-yellow stripes of a Banded Krait, the Many-spotted Cat Snake has dark spots similar to a Eastern Russell’s Viper, while the Green Cat Snake might be mistaken for any number of green Pit Vipers. In each case the body shape, head shape, and size of the head scales can be used to differentiate them. Some juvenile cat snakes resemble Slug Snakes, but differ in their head shape, pupil shape, and # of midbody scale rows.

Mangrove Cat Snake
Mangrove Snake Gold-ringed Cat Snake Boiga dendrophila งูปล้องทอง thailand
Thai National Parks / CC BY-SA

Glossy black body with bright gold rings that are much thinner than the black portions. Very hefty for a cat snake. 21-23 midbody scale rows.

Banded Green Cat Snake
Banded Green Cat Snake Boiga saengsomi งูเขียวดงลาย thailand endemic
© Gernot Vogel

Yellow-green with yellowish bands and some black reticulations around the scales. Also hefty for a cat snake. 21 midbody scale rows.

Green Cat Snake
Green Cat Snake Boiga cyanea งูเขียวบอน thailand
Thai National Parks / CC BY-SA

Uniformly green, though juveniles have green heads and orangish-brown bodies. Medium build. 21 (sometimes 23) midbody scale rows.

White-spotted Cat Snake
White-spotted Cat Snake Boiga drapiezii malaysia
© Steven Wong

Either mottled green with both light and dark brown bands or grayish-brown with orange bands. Sometimes has light spots on the lower sides. Cream belly. 19 midbody scale rows.

Dog-toothed Cat Snake
Dog-toothed Cat Snake Boiga cynodon malaysia
© Kevin Messenger

Tan to grayish-brown with black saddles that are light in the middle. Black eyestripe. White belly with marbled chocolate. 23-25 midbody scale rows.

Siamese Cat Snake
Siamese Cat Snake Thai Boiga siamensis ocellata งูแส้หางม้าเทา thailand
© Steven Wong

Light grayish-brown with slanted dark bars. Dark eyestripe. White “eyespots” on lower sides. Light brown to beige belly. 23 midbody scale rows.

Jasper Cat Snake
Jasper Cat Snake Boiga jaspidea malaysia
© Steven Wong

Brownish with dark brown bars on the side and alternating rust and dark brown spots on the top. White patches on lower side. Brown mottling on head. Belly yellow in front, whiter towards back. 21-23 midbody scale rows.

Many-spotted Cat Snake
Thai National Parks / CC BY-SA

Grayish-brown with two alternating rows of large dark spots above and a smaller row on each side. Dark eyestripe and “arrowhead” mark on top of head. 17-19 midbody scale rows.

Black-headed Cat Snake
Black-headed Cat Snake Boiga nigriceps งูต้องไฟ Thailand
Thai National Parks / CC BY-SA

Straw-brown to reddish with olive to gray head (juveniles have head same color as body). Cream venter is darker towards back. 21 midbody scale rows.

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