Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Oriental Whip Snake

Ahaetulla prasina

This species is found in Thailand but is not verified from Bangkok
Oriental Whip Snake Ahaetulla prasina
Oriental Whip Snake in Malaysia (© OrionHerpAdventure)

English name: Oriental Whip Snake (aka “Asian Vine Snake”)
Scientific name: Ahaetulla prasina
Thai name: งูเขียวหัวจิ้งจก (Ngu Kieo Hua Jing-jok)

Description: To 197cm long. Long, extremely slender body ending in a very long tail. Elongate head is shaped like an arrowhead, coming to almost a point at the snout. Eyes are large and have horizontal pupils. Body is yellow-green, green, gray or brownish above and white to green below. Often is a thin yellow line running down the bottom of the flank.

Relevant scale counts: 15 midbody scale rows of smooth scales. 9-10 supralabials, 194-235 ventrals, a split anal, and 141-207 subcaudals.

Similar Species: Long-nosed Whip Snake has a final protruding scale at the end of its snout forming its “long-nose”.
Big-eye Green Whip Snake lacks the thin yellow line on the flank, has 1-2 grey lines on the venter, has 7-8 supralabials, fewer than 195 ventrals, and a single anal scale.
Speckled-headed Whip Snake has indistinct dark bands on the body and speckles on the head.

Range: From northeast India and south China throughout southeast Asia into Malaysia and Indonesia. There are no official records of the Oriental Whip Snake in Bangkok, but it has been found in nearby provinces and likely will be found in the Bangkok area eventually.

Habitat: Forests up to 2100m elevation, especially where there is thick undergrowth.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Feeds on frogs, lizards, smaller snakes, and birds. Is eaten by birds of prey and larger snakes.

Danger to humans: When threatened it will attempt to intimidate by inflating its neck and showing off white and black skin between the scales, but it rarely bites and is not dangerous to humans. Though it has a weak venom, it only takes effect if the snake is able to chew for an extended period of time and is not potent enough to cause symptoms past itchiness and mild swelling. See “Interesting Facts”.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation issues. However, in Vietnam and possibly China it is popular for snake wine and traditional medicine, so overharvesting could be an issue.

Interesting facts: Like many other snakes in Thailand, the Oriental Whip Snake is a “rear-fanged snake”, which means that it has venom that comes down grooves in the teeth near the back of its mouth. This venom is used to immobilize the frogs, reptiles, and birds that form its diet, but is not potent enough to cause a serious effect in humans. However, some people have experienced allergic reactions even to relatively weak snake venom, so it is probably safest to remove any rear-fanged snake that is biting you immediately and not let it continue biting for a significant length of time.

References:
IUCN Red List: Ahaetulla prasina
Siam-Info account on Ahaetulla (Whip Snake) genus
Wikipedia: Ahaetulla prasina
Ecology Asia: Oriental Whip Snake
National Geographic: Oriental Whip Snake
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

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