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. Bangkok’s snakes feed on the city’s mice and rats, helping 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 the 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
Big-eyed Pit Viper Kramer's Large-eyed Pit Viper Trimeresurus macrops
Large-eyed Pit Viper – stout triangular head, large eye, blue-green on lips, venomous and dangerous!
White-lipped Tree Viper Cryptelytrops albolabris
White-lipped Pit Viper – broad triangular head, white or yellow 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
Oriental Rat Snake – Large eye, long tail, indistinct bands that fade with 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 body
yellow-bellied water snake Hypsiscopus plumbea enhydris thailand
Yellow-bellied Water Snake – small head, dark olive-brown top with yellow belly
Tentacled Snake Erpton tentaculum smithsonian national zoo
Tentacled Snake – flat brownish body, head with two tentacle-like appendages, always in water

Banded Snakes

Many ground and water snakes are brownish in color with various types of bands on their body. Their colors can vary, so the important characteristics to distinguish 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!
jodi's Cylindrophis jodiae ruffus red-tailed pipe snake kaeng krachen thailand
Jodi’s Pipe Snake – small head, red under tail, narrow light bands broken on top
Homalopsis mereljcoxi Jack's Masked Watersnake
Jack’s Water Snake – narrow but distinct light bands fade with age, broad head with dark “mask”
adult Bocourt's Mud Snake Enhydris bocourti
Bocourt’s Water Snake – Thick body, narrow yellowish bands on a mottled 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, only on coastal mudflats
Little File Snake – thick with loose skin and granulated scales, only in 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 Malayopython reticulatus malaysia Ngu Leuam งูเหลือม
Reticulated Python – Large body with reticulations of black, brown, and yellow
Burmese Python Python bivittatus bivittatus assam india
Burmese Python – Large body, brown blotches are lighter between
Young Eastern Russell's Viper in Indonesia (photo by Gary Stephenson www.flickr.com/photos/gazs_pics)
Eastern Russell’s Viper – brown spots on back and each side, stout head, 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 Boiga multomaculata
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 – 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

Copperhead racer trinket snake 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 on side with black above through eye
striped kukri snake Oligodon taeniatus Michael Cota Rangsit_files
Striped Kukri Snake – light line on back with dark borders, dark marks 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 Indotyphlops bangkok thailand
Brahminy Blind Snake – slender, relatively uniform coloration
White-headed Blind Snake Indotyphlops albiceps found in hong kong
White-headed Blind Snake – slender body, distinct white head
Slender Blind Snake Indotyphlops porrectus
Slender Worm Snake – extremely slender, sometimes with pale head
diard's blind snake typhlops diardi Rajib Rudra Tariang Assam India
Diard’s Blind Snake – robust, dark brown fades into paler underbelly
Roxane's Blind Snake Argyrophis roxaneae Thailand Typhlops FMNH R177984 holotype
Roxane’s Blind Snake – stout, darkest only on upper dorsal
Flower’s Blind Snake – round tail with no ending tail spine

85 thoughts on “Identifying Snakes

  1. 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??

  2. 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?

  3. 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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