Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Chinese False Cobra

Pseudoxenodon macrops

This species is found in Thailand, but not within Bangkok itself
chinese false cobra Big-eyed Bamboo Snake large- eyed Pseudoxenodon macrops thailand
Chinese False Cobra at Doi Phu Kha National Park (Thai National Parks / CC BY-SA)

English name: Chinese False Cobra (aka: “Big-eyed Mountain Keelback”, “Large-eyed False Cobra”, Large-eyed Bamboo Snake”, “Big-eyed Bamboo Snake”, “Mock Cobra”)
Scientific name: Pseudoxenodon macrops
Thai name: งูลายสาบคอบั้ง (Ngu Lai Saap Khor Bang), งูลายสาบตาโต (Ngu Lai Saap Taa To)

Description: To 120cm. A stout snake that can spread its neck into a hood as a defensive display. Color is gray to brown to greenish brown with light black outlines on the scales. There are often small black lines radiating from the eye and a dark angled mark on the neck, though the mark is often integrated into the base color and/or indistinct. Faint dark spots or crossbars on the side are more visible on some individuals than others, there are sometimes also light spots on the back. Belly is white with distinct grey or black trapezoid-shaped blotches on the front section. Eyes are notably large, leading to common names such as “Large-eyed” or “Big-eyed” Bamboo Snake.

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

Similar Species: Bamboo False Cobra has a clear black eyestripe, a distinct hollow black arrowhead on the neck, and distinct dark bands on the body.
Assam Mountain Snake has a more distinct black chevron marking, belly blotches that cover the entire belly, a smaller eye, a shorter tail, and 15 rows of midbody scales. 

Range: Nepal and northeast India east through southeast Asia including southern China and south through north, central, and western Thailand and the northern tip of Malaysia.

Habitat: Upland forest near water, from 200m to 2000m elevation. In Thailand generally only found above 1200m.

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 is not known to be dangerous to humans. However, when threatened it will rear up in a display shockingly similar to that of a cobra.

Conservation status and threats: It is a widespread and common 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. If this initial defense is ineffective, sometimes the snake will try to escape or bite, and if its escape is blocked it will stop moving, flip over, and pretend to be dead.

IUCN Red List: Pseudoxenodon macrops
Snakes of Northern Thailand: Mock Cobras
Thai National Parks: Common Bamboo Snake
Death Feigning Behavior in Large-eyed False Cobra

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