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Red-necked Keelback

Rhabdophis subminiatus

Venomous and Dangerous!

Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus

Juvenile Red-necked Keelback found in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson)

Red-necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus)

Red-necked Keelback found in Hong Kong (Photo courtesy of Kevin Caldwell)

Red-necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus)  eating frog

Red-necked Keelback eating frog (photo courtesy of Kevin Caldwell)

Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus

Another Red-necked Keelback in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Kevin Caldwell)

Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus head shot

Head shot of Red-necked Keelback (photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson)

Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus

Red-necked Keelback found in Krabi Province (photo courtesy of Tom Charlton, http://www.venomlogic.com)

Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus

Red-necked Keelback in Laos (photo courtesy of Thomas Calame)

Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus

Red-necked Keelback found in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Thomas Brown)

Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus neck shot

Neck close-up of Red-necked Keelback (photo courtesy of Thomas Brown)

Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus juvenile

Juvenile Red-necked Keelback found near agricultural area in Chiang Mai Province (photo courtesy of Sjon Hauser)

English name: Red-necked Keelback
Scientific name: Rhabdophis subminiatus
Thai name: Ngu Lai-Sab Ko Daeng

Description: To 110cm long. Body is relatively slender. Color is greenish-gray or olive with red and yellow coloration around the neck. Eyes are large. Juveniles sometimes lack the red neck, but have a large black spot on the back of the neck and indistinct black barring on the body.

Similar Species: Yellow-spotted Keelback is less colorful and lacks the characteristic red neck. Juvenile Yellow-spotted Keelbacks lack the large black marking on the back of their neck that juvenile Red-necked Keelbacks have.
Checkered Keelback has a black checker pattern on an olive-brown background. It also lacks the red neck and the juveniles lack the black marking on the back of the neck.
Buff-striped Keelback has a characteristic white or cream stripe on the side.

Habitat: In moist forests, grasslands, or brushy areas near marshes, ponds, streams, ditches, and rice patties.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Red-necked Keelback helps control fish and frog populations. The juveniles are eaten by larger snakes, large fish, and birds.

Danger to humans: This snake is not aggressive, but will bit if handled or provoked and can cause adverse affects in humans if it is able to work in its venom. These affects may include headache, nausea, vomiting, and severe renal failure (due to procoagulants).

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats over its broader range. There is a historic record for Bangkok, but I know of no recent records and it is possible that its habitat in Bangkok no longer exists due to development.

Interesting facts: The Red-necked Keelback was once thought to be non-dangerous, but several recent cases of snakebite from this species have led to serious hospitalizations. In these cases the snake was allowed to bite for an extended period of time, allowing it to work its rear fangs fully into the hand and release its venom. It is highly recommended that this snake not be handled, and if a bite does occur, make sure the snake is removed immediately and seek medical attention as a precautionary measure.

References:
Ecology Asia: Red-necked Keelback
Armed Forces Pest Management Board: Venomous Animals: Rhabdophis subminiatus
Severe coagulopathy after a bite from a ‘harmless’ snake (Rhabdophis subminiatus).
Wikipedia: Rhabdophis subminiatus
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

 

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