Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Bamboo False Cobra

Pseudoxenodon bambusicola

This species is found in Thailand, but not within Bangkok itself
bamboo false cobra Bamboo Snake Pseudoxenodon bambusicola hong kong
Bamboo False Cobra in Hong Kong (© Adam Francis)

English name: Bamboo False Cobra (aka: “Common Bamboo Snake”)
Scientific name: Pseudoxenodon bambusicola
Thai name: งูแบมบ้า (Ngoo Baem-bâa)

Description: A stout snake that can spread its neck into a hood as a defensive display. Color is extremely variable, often gray but also reddish-orange, yellow, or greenish-yellow. Characteristic black eyestripes connect at the front of the face, and there is also a hollow black arrowhead-like marking on top of the neck that becomes a circle when the hood is spread. Regular black-tinted brown bands which do not connect across are along the body. The back end has has a pair of lighter dorsal stripes on top. Belly is cream with significant black blotching. Eyes are notably large.

Relevant scale counts: 17 midbody scales. Scales are heavily keeled.

Similar Species: Chinese False Cobra lacks the black eyestripe, has a less distinct or missing neck blotch, and has only indistinct black banding if at all. 

Range: South China, north Vietnam, Laos, and Nan Province in Thailand (only recently discovered there in 2018).

Habitat: Forest, often bamboo forest, usually near streams or other water bodies. From 300m to 1500m elevation.

Place in the ecosystem: Feeds on frogs and possibly lizards. Would be eaten by larger snakes, civets, and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: Is a rear-fanged snake but any potential danger to humans is unknown. When threatened it will rear up in a display shockingly similar to that of a cobra.

Conservation status and threats: It is a widespread species and no threats are known.

Interesting facts: Common names such as “False Cobra” or “Mock Cobra” refer to the manner in which this snake will rear up and spread the skin on its neck like a hood when threatened. It is not know whether the behavior and capability developed due to its similarity to a cobra’s behavior or if it is effective defense in its own right due to how it makes the snake appear larger and more threatening.

References:
Hong Kong Snake ID: Bamboo False Cobra
IUCN Red List: Pseudoxenodon bambusicola
Snakes of Northern Thailand: Mock Cobras
Thai National Parks: Common Bamboo Snake

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