Reptiles and Amphibians of Bangkok

Central Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Identifying Snakes

Snakes are the most feared animal in the city…but only a few can hurt humans, and even they prefer to avoid people. In fact, snakes are a beneficial part of Thailand’s ecosystem. Many of Bangkok’s snakes feed on the city’s mice and rats, helping to control those rodent populations and reducing crop loss and the spread of disease. Some of the smaller snakes eat insect larvae and help to control ant and termite populations in the city.

However, every year a number of people in Bangkok are bitten by dangerously venomous snakes. For information on what to do if you are bit by a potentially dangerous snake, go to the snakebite page.

Green Snakes

Green camouflage is an adaptation for some snakes that live in bushes and trees. Many people believe that all green snakes are dangerous, but in fact only a couple green vipers are mildly venomous and they can be distinguished by the shape of their head.

Long-nosed Whip Snake Ahaetulla nasuta head
Long-nosed Whip Snake – extremely slender with long narrow head and pointed snout ending in a “nose”
Golden Tree Snake Chrysopelea ornata
Golden Tree Snake – black markings on body, long but not pointed head that is predominantly black on top
White-lipped Tree Viper Cryptelytrops albolabris
White-lipped Tree Viper – broad triangular head, white or yellow on lips, venomous and dangerous!
Big-eyed Pit Viper Trimeresurus macrops
Large-eyed Tree Viper – stout triangular head, large eye, blue-green on lips, venomous and dangerous!

Brown or Black Snakes

Of course, other snakes that spend their time near the ground or on large trees would prefer to be much drabber in color. Here are a few snakes who are primarily brown or black without significant markings

indo-chinese rat snake ptyas korros thailand
Indo-Chinese Rat Snake – Large eye, long trail, only faintest markings on adults
Kevin Messenger hong kong Ptyas mucosus
Oriental Rat Snake – Large eye, long tail, indistinct bands on body that fade in age
Naja kaouthia (Monocled Cobras) Randy Ciuros
Monocled Cobra – Smallish eye, short tail, characteristic “monocle” on back of neck, venomous and dangerous!
Sunbeam Snake Xenopeltis unicolor
Sunbeam Snake – flattened head, striking iridescent shine off of dark brown body
Yellow-bellied Water Snake – small head, dark olive-brown on top with yellow belly
Tentacled Snake Erpton tentaculum Vietnam Alex Krohn 1
Tentacled Snake – flattened brownish body, head with two tentacle-like appendages, only found in water

Banded Snakes

Many ground and water snakes are brownish in color with various types of bands on their body. The important characteristics toBdistinguish them are the size of their bodies and the shape and distinction of their bands.

Banded Kukri Snake (Oligodon fasciolatus) khao yai thailand
Banded Kukri Snake – dark blotches with small crossbars in-between and a characteristic head marking
Tom Charlton Common Wolf Snake Komodo Island
Common Wolf Snake – narrow brown head with a white collar, very indistinct light bands on small body
Dryocalamus davisonii Common Bridle Snake Thailand
Common Bridle Snake – Small head, slender body with narrow white bands that reticulate near tail
banded krait Bungarus fasciatus
Banded Krait – triangular body, distinct dark and light bands of equal width, venomous and dangerous!
Red-tailed Pipe Snake (Cylindrophis ruffus) dorsal view
Red-tailed Pipe Snake – small head, red under tail, narrow light bands may be absent on top
Homalopsis mereljcoxi Jack's Masked Watersnake
Jack’s Water Snake – narrow but distinct light bands that fade with age, broad head with dark “mask” on face
adult Bocourt's Mud Snake Enhydris bocourti
Bocourt’s Water Snake – Thick body, narrow yellowish bands on a mottled dark brown background
Dog-faced Water Snake Cerberus schneiderii Cerberus rynchops singapore
Dog-faced Water Snake – dark bars on brown/grey body, dark eyestripe, found only on coastal mudflats
Keel-bellied Water Snake bitia hydoroides
Keel-bellied Water Snake – faint black bands on top of cream-colored body, found only on coastal mudflats
Jordan de Jong little file snake Acrochordus granulatus
Little File Snake – thick body with loose skin and granulated scales, only found in or near marine habitats

Blotched Snakes

There are a number of brownish Bangkok snakes with various blotches on their body. Most are easy to distinguish by the shape and position of the blotches.

Reticulated Python Python reticulatus
Reticulated Python – Large body with reticulations of black, brown, and yellow
Burmese Python Python bivittatus bivittatus Everglades Nick Scobel_files
Burmese Python – Very large body, brown blotches with light-brown between
Young Eastern Russell's Viper in Indonesia (photo by Gary Stephenson www.flickr.com/photos/gazs_pics)
Eastern Russell’s Viper – average body, stout head, brown spots on back and each side, venomous and dangerous!
Mangrove Pit Viper Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus Exotarium Oberhof malaysia mangrove
Mangrove Pit Viper – broad triangular head, brown, gray, olive, or yellow with dark blotches, venomous and dangerous!
Kevin Caldwell Many-spotted Cat Snake
Many-spotted Cat Snake – slender body, average head, rows of brown blotches offset on either side of back
Yellow-spotted Keelback Xenocropis flavipunctus
Yellow-spotted Keelback – large eye with eyestripe, black checkers/bars on body
Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus
Red-necked Keelback – red and yellow markings on neck, faint checkers on body
Chanard's Water Snake Enhydris chanardi
Chanard’s Mud Snake – Small eyes, short thick body, small black dots on side with a white line underneath
Jagor’s Water Snake Enhydris jargorii from last known remaining population daryl karnes
Jagor’s Water Snake – small eyes and head, very thick body, narrow black blotches that extend all the way down to the belly
Male Javan Wart Snake Acrochordus javanicus
Javan Wart Snake – Enormous body with loose skin, granular scales, squared-off head, dark gray blotching on sides

Striped Snakes

A few of Bangkok’s snakes have a variety of striped patterns

Coelognathus radiatus_Daniel Rosenberg Hong Kong
Copperhead Racer – Black stripe on front half of body and lines radiating from eye
Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand
Indo-Chinese Sand Snake – Alternating light and brown stripes on medium body
Rainbow Water Snake Enhydris enhydris malaysia
Rainbow Water Snake – thick body with two yellow-to-red lines
Painted Bronzeback Common Bronzeback Dendrelaphis pictus in Sumutra
Painted Bronzeback – slender, light line on side with black line above it through eye
Oligodon taeniatus Michael Cota Rangsit_files
Striped Kukri Snake – light line on back with dark borders, dark markings on head
Buff-striped Keelback Amphiesma stolata
Buff-striped Keelback – two light stripes intersected with dark bars

Worm-like Snakes

These “blind” snakes can be distinguished from worms because they have eyes, a tongue, and hard scales. Their lack of features makes them difficult to identify, and so a scale count is often necessary to tell the species apart.

Brahminy Blind Snake Ramphotyphlops braminus
Brahminy Blind Snake – slender, relatively uniform coloration
white-headed blind snake
White-headed Blind Snake – extremely slender, pale head
Blind Snake Slender Worm Snake Indotyphlops porrectus india
Slender Worm Snake – More slender and often longer than Brahminy Blind Snake
diard's blind snake typhlops diardi Rajib Rudra Tariang Assam India
Diard’s Blind Snake – robust, dark brown on top fades into paler underbelly

NO PHOTO

Flower’s Blind Snake – creamy yellow on snout to chin and around the anal, no sharp tail spine. This snake is very rarely seen and photos may only exist in museum collections.

NO PHOTO

Roxane’s Blind Snake – yellow on snout and anal, large and stout for a blind snake with a short tail. This snake is only known from the original specimen which is in a museum collection.

85 thoughts on “Identifying Snakes

  1. I am in malaysia, and came across a small black worm like snake, that looked like the Brahminy Blind snake, as it was small, moved like a worm , but was all black and had a couple of yellow dot markings on its back, didnt seem to be any other markings or lighter on the belly. I have not seen any descriptions of snakes in malaysia that looked like that, but that snake is the closest to the Brahiminy blind snake, except for the yellow dot markings on its back, is this the same species or similar?

    1. Brahminy Blind Snake would be my first guess. I don’t recall seeing a Brahminy Blind Snake with markings, but if the markings are small and there’s only a couple of them, they might just be incidental. I’m not sure what other kinds of blind snakes live in Malaysia.

  2. I live in Laos and have many snakes on my property. They are long and skinny and striped and have a yellow head. I assume it’s just a type of garter snake. Does this sound correct?

    1. Garter snakes are only found in North America. It sounds like what you are talking about may be a type of Bronzeback (there are several species in Laos that are not found in Bangkok).

  3. Dearv sir
    Are there any snakes in Bangkok able to kill cats, as we have two cats disappear in the last few months
    Thanks
    John

      1. About 5 years ago we had a large python (4.5m) removed from under our terrace. She had a large belly bulge and neighbor’s cat was missing.

      2. Dear SirPlease look at the photo attached, its taken in the back garden of my house, what kind of snake is it. This now we know where three of our cats have gone and countless others from the neighbourhood.Do you know of someone who can remove his snake?I live in Lad Prao Kha area RegardsJohn

      3. I’m sorry John Evans – the photo didn’t upload.

        For snake catching, you can try calling Sompop Sridaranop at 089-0438455. The fire department also handles snake removal.

  4. Hi, we spent a week on the island of Koh Kood Thailand. We found a snake in our room, the snake catcher of the hotel tried to catch it but escaped. I asked what it was but the Thai staff could only call it by its regional name which sounded like ‘Khao bang’ does anyone have any ideas what it was. It was smallish with brown markings, all the staff were wary of it so was definitely venomous.

    1. I’m sorry it took me so long to get around to this comment. The word “khao” is often in the name of kukri snakes, which are often smallish with markings, so my guess is that it was probably some species of kukri snake. I’m not sure which one – perhaps an Ashy Kukri Snake or a Banded Kukri Snake.

      Unfortunately, in my experience the vast majority of people do not know which snakes are venomous or non-venomous even in their own backyard. I cannot count the number of Thai people who have told me that blind snakes are deadly, even though blind snakes are the most harmless snakes in the world!

      1. But my housing area is like forest and the snake is black upper yellow at the bottom the eye is like a human eye white and round black pupil Is it venomous?

  5. I’m in Thailand with my wife at the moment and was playing golf at. Luke canyon country club’s lake course in Phuket. On the 4th hole I hit a shot into a bunker and when I got there I was confronted by a large dark brown snake. It was approx 2m long and was dark brown and what looked to be solid in colour. It moved quite fast tryi g to escape the bunker. I managed to get a photo of it when it took off in he opposite direction on e it seen me. Can to identify it? A local thinks it may have been a cobra! Is it possible?

    1. If it was 2m long, it is probably not a cobra – they rarely get more than 1.5-1.6 meters long.

      My guess would be that it was most likely one of the rat snakes, either the Oriental Rat Snake or the Indo-Chinese Rat Snake. Those are both dark brown, move very quickly, and can reach 2.5m or longer.

  6. Thanks. I’ve since looked further into it and the closest resemblance I could see as an indo-Chinese rat snake.

  7. Hello, please help me identify a snake i met at Koh Samet island, Thailand.
    It was very black (ideally black), abt 1.5 meters long, tail was not round but flat (vertically, looked a little like crocodile’s tail). I nearly passed it by ATV thanks brakes were really good.

    1. Is there any chance that what you saw was a Javan Wart Snake? They rarely come out of the water, but they are very large and have a tail like the one you describe.

      Otherwise I might think it was a rat snake (I’ve seen an Indo-Chinese Rat Snake on Koh Samet myself), but their tails are round.

  8. .,???????? is Brahminy Ciegos Snake ?????????????????
    file:///C:/Users/As/Desktop/2014-03-02%2000.42.53.jpg
    file:///C:/Users/As/Desktop/2014-03-02%2000.41.08.jpg

  9. It is black or almost black. this hurt, I found her in the yard is flat and the tail end as one smallish tip spine, his eyes are barely noticeable, also barely noticeable smallish language. I be sure it’s the Brahminy Blind Snake, I hope to be right and I hope that you can heal and be well = (=

    file:///C:/Users/As/Desktop/2014-03-02%2000.42.53.jpg
    file:///C:/Users/As/Desktop/2014-03-02%2000.41.08.jpg

      1. Thanks so much! My only experience of eels comes from Denmark where my aunt served them to me on a plate – I never saw them live. Dad only told us kids what they were after we ate them. They’re not bad tasting, only a bit too bony…

  10. Hi. Could you please help us identify a snake that was in our yard last night… We live in eastern Bangkok (Bangkhae) and haven’t seen any snakes in this area before (4 years in this house). We have 3 kids so as a mother I have been in a shock after an idea of a cobra in our yard?? You can find pics in here: http://perhelehtimaki.blogspot.com/2014/04/snake-in-our-garden.html
    Pics are not very good since it was dark and those are snapshots from a video my husband shoot…. What do you think? Could it be a baby cobra?

    1. Like you say the photos aren’t perfect, but that certainly looks like a little cobra to me. If you are concerned then there are snake removal services you can call in Bangkok. The most important thing to stay safe is to not try to touch or kill the snake yourself – that’s one of the main ways that people end up getting bit.

    1. Where are you? That doesn’t look like any venomous snake that I’m familiar with, but I shouldn’t say so for sure without a positive identification. Knowing where you are located would help.

  11. Hi saw a snake in my yard but was too slow to get a proper look at it this time to identify it but it was largish approx. 4 to 5 feet, brown looked solid color maybe bit lighter on bottom and its tail instead of going gently to a point it suddenly dipped in then went to point, like you had cut a smaller snakes tail off and put it on this bigger one, any idea from this if poisonous or not ??

    1. It sounds likely that that was a rat snake, but I couldn’t be certain from the description – there’s an outside chance that it could be a cobra. The easiest way to tell the difference is to get a good look at their heads.

      1. I hope so but we have had a lot of Rat Snakes here and this wasn’t one of those. We did once have a cobra skin found under our pool pump 😦 I have been advised that with the tail I ( tried ) to describe it would probably be a viper of some kind. I always give snakes a wide berth and just let them leave but my main concern is that I don’t know a lot about the snakes here, are they territorial meaning will they hang around or move away. worried about my pets as the cats go every where and that’s the area the dog uses for a toilet

  12. I saw a small, worm or snake-like, smooth skinned creature in Chiang Mai while hiking. Is it a snake or a worm? It is black with a tan head that looks like a hatchet. How can I post a picture?

    1. That sounds like a kind of flatworm called a bipalium. They’re also known as “hammerhead worms” or “shovel-headed garden worms”. I see them myself from time to time on hikes, including one near the top of Chiang Mai. They’re quite a strange sight!

  13. Last night had a very dark snake nearly black snake go round the back of the house. It was about 1.5-possibly 2m in length, about 2-3 inches wide and small head and thinish neck and a long tapering tail. Scared to go and look but from looking at the pictures and reading the description it could possibly be a rat snake or a (king? ) cobra. What is the main difference between the look of these two besides one is dangerous and the other no so. I live in Krabi next to a rubber plantation and a mountain.
    Thanks

    1. You certainly shouldn’t touch the snake unless you know exactly what species it is. King Cobras are responsible for a low number of bites and even lower number of fatalities…but the #1 way to get bit by one would be to grab it.

      From your description of the “long tapering tail” and the “small head”, I would suspect that it’s most likely to be a rat snake. Rat snakes have somewhat smaller heads and longer tails than cobras. Also, rat snakes are far more common than king cobras. However, that’s just a guess – I wouldn’t be sure without seeing the snake’s head myself.

  14. Hi and thanks for a very informative page.

    My fammily just returned from a Thailand trip where we visited the Koh Kut island. I wondered if snakes at all lived on these islands, but a motorcycle trip changed my mind.

    I stumbled upon this snake tail sticking out of a hole in the cliffs at the side of the road. The tail itself was long around 70cm. So i guess this is a rather large snake maybe 2 meters. The skin was grey without markings, and a lighter belly scale, clearly one single scale.

    There was a change of color in the middle of the tailpiece to a lighter shade of grey. Looking at various sites I start to think that this was a King Cobra. Is this true? We eventually left the place and came back an hour later. The snake was in the exact same place, so i guess it could be dead, and I took these pictures.

    Sorry about the poor quality of the images. But i did not dare to get any closer.
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1rxPWv0t_zvdVFWVmxhOVZ4UGc/view?usp=sharing
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1rxPWv0t_zvRWE4TE5oTE9pT00/view?usp=sharing

    1. To my eye, it looks like it is indeed dead, and it could possibly be a King Cobra. I’m not experienced enough with the species to identify them from that piece of the body alone though.

  15. Hi there. Thank you so much for your page. I was in south central Vietnam and was swimming in Bung River, near Phong Nha. I saw this snake hunting in the river. It lifted its head up and I snapped this photo. The portion above the water looked to be about 40cms. I was up on the bank at the time, so the enlarged photo is not great quality. It seemed to be uniform brown color. Any idea what type of snake it might be? Thank you!
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5p5kbD_NFZqdC0xNExWaXpTdXc/edit?usp=docslist_api

      1. Whaaaat?? You mean you can’t ID a snake from a blurry photo taken from 200 yards away? 😉 thanks for having a look. I’m going to tell my friends it’s a cobra. Lol

  16. Hi, I’m in koh phangan at the moment, and I found two snakes I would like to identify and know if they are dangerous.
    1.- hiking Khao Ra, a 20cm red baby snake with two black lines in the tail.
    2.- near the beach in thongsala, 20/30cm green bottom, and black/blueish with yellow lines

    1. #1 may be a brown kukri snake, oligodon purpurascens. If you look online you will see they are usually brown but some examples are more reddish. It also might be some other species of kukri snake, or there’s a very outside chance it could be a venomous coral snake, Sinomicrurus macclellandi. Look for pictures of each online.

      #2 sounds like there’s a good chance it’s one of the Bronzeback species, such as a Striped Bronzeback, Blue Bronzeback, or Elegant Bronzeback. You’d have to look up information to see which ones are found on that specific island.

  17. Hi, I am a snake handler from Tasmania, Australia. I am hoping to visit Thailand in the middle of 2016. I was hoping you may know some one i could get in contact with in regards to me tagging along on afew snake rescues.
    Kind regards

    1. In retrospect I certainly wished I had made those connections! I also wanted to tag along on rescues. Unfortunately, with the business of my schedule and my lack of personal transportation, I never felt that I’d be able to make it, so I didn’t develop the necessary connections.

  18. I was Cycling in Loei Province yesterday when a snake crossed the road in front of me, about
    10-00 am in bright sunlight. The snake was about 2 meter and about the thickness of a broom handle, it was olive green in color and had lighter markings all down its body. It seemed to be triangular, ie the body flat to the road and was zigzagging, half a meter then a bend in its body and so on. The area was flat with rice fields.

    1. I would think a rat snake, most likely an Oriental Rat Snake. They can have an olive coloration and light markings, and are one of the few snakes that gets that large. They are also common in exactly that habitat.

  19. I live in Nonthaburi, Thailand and at the back of my house is a large orchard, but rater unkempt and shrubby with shallow canals where they get water for watering the trees. Based on the description and picture, I think that what I see often in my garden are green tree vipers. How big can they get? Most of the ones I see are small and the biggest is the size of a finger.

    1. There are several species of green pit vipers, and they vary a lot in size. The two species found in Bangkok are both rather small, but there are some other species in Thailand that get much larger. Sometimes juveniles are also a lot more common and easier to see than adults, so it’s possible that the ones you’ve seen in your garden so far have all been juveniles.

  20. im from malaysia..i found a yellow snake with some black spots on its head and the belly was reddish white and the head was so small,what is that??

  21. I found a snake on the tree in koh pangan.
    The haed of it looks like noiga but im not sure.
    Is it posible to sand a photo and to get help with the recognition?

  22. Hello! Would you be able to identify the snake in the picture?

    I saw it while climbing to a top of one of the smaller island near Cat Ba, Vietnam. It was quite small, I’d say max 30 cm.

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