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Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute (Red Cross Snake Farm)

Early in my time in Bangkok I had a friend tell me that there was a great snake farm in Bangkok that I should check out. Apparently there’s a “bad” one that is just a tourist trap where snakes are basically abused, then a good one run by the Red Cross where snakes are cared for well and used for venom research. The good one is the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute – I got to visit it and it was fantastic.

As you can see, there were many different species of snakes represented. Though there are a few exotics mixed in, the focus is on the species native to Bangkok, and nearly all of the common non-venomous species local to Bangkok are displayed. In addition, the snake farm had many of the vipers, cobras, and kraits native to the rest of Thailand.

Feeding time was neat – here frogs and frog legs are the default snake food.

In the morning they had a milking demonstration. Venomous snakes are milked to extract venom, which is then used in the production of antivenom which is given to snakebite victims in order to counteract the snake bite’s effect. After a short video on the history of the snake farm, a speaker talked about the venom program and what the antivenom is used for, then three employees milked one monacled cobra each.

There was a small, decent museum on snakes attached as well. Again, all the information was accurate and appreciated. I took a photo of their display of the results of snakebite. This is why you should not pick up venomous species – notice how many of the bites are on the hand, especially the right hand? It is very likely that the people who got bit on the hand were trying to pick up or kill a venomous snake. And the bites that are not on the right hand are on the foot – watch where you step when you’re in snake country!

Remember – if you are bit by a venomous snake, the most important thing to do is to stay calm, try to identify the snake (take a picture if possible), and have someone take you to the hospital immediately. The antivenom produced by the Red Cross Snake Farm is very effective, but the sooner you get it the better.

In the afternoon there was a snake-handling show but I wasn’t able to attend. Overall I was very happy with the quality of exhibit space and information at the snake farm – it was the most competent display of animals I had seen in Asia. I would recommend the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute to anyone who wants to learn more about our local snake species and the work being done to save lives.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Herping adventures

 

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My First Snake in Bangkok

Technically, the first snakes I found in Bangkok were Brahminy Blind Snakes and White-headed Blind Snakes in Lumpani Park. But the first wild snake I found that didn’t look like a worm was on an October afternoon just off of Ramkhamhaeng 2.

I was walking along the road after church, looking through pockets of habitat I had spotted from the bus on the way there. I had already seen several sun skinks, monitors, and garden lizards (as well as an eel!) when I turned down this little trail next to a canal:

I hadn’t gone 10 feet when I spotted a slender form in the grass. A snake! By the shape of its head I could tell that it clearly was not a venomous species. As I bent down to pick it up, it stayed frozen, relying on its camouflage to avoid detection. I gently lifted it off the ground and had my first Long-nosed Whip Snake in hand. It was a young one, no thicker than a pencil.

Long-nosed Whip Snake head looking straight on - note slenderness of head and body

Long-nosed Whip Snake Ahaetulla nasuta

Long-nosed Whip Snake Ahaetulla nasuta

I released him into a tree and watched the beautiful creature make its way up a branch.

Long-nosed Whip 10-9-10 in Ram 2 (5)

My “first” was a beauty, and there were many more to come…

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2013 in Herping adventures

 

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Mangrove Pit Viper

Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus

Venomous and Dangerous!

Mangrove Pit Viper Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus Phuket Michael Gillam

Mangrove Pit Viper in Phuket Province (photo by Michael Gillam)

 

Mangrove Pit Viper Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus Phuket Michael Gillam

Another shot of Mangrove Pit Viper (photo by Michael Gillam)

Mangrove Pit Viper  Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus alex figueroa malaysia

Mangrove Pit Viper in Malaysia (photo by Alex Figueroa)

Mangrove Pit Viper  Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus Alex Figueroa Malaysia

Another shot of Mangrove Pit Viper (photo by Alex Figueroa)

Shore Pit Viper Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus Edwin Tan Singapore

Mangrove Pit Viper in Singapore (photo by Edwin Tan)

Shore Pit Viper Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus

Mangrove Pit Viper in Singapore (photo by Ria Tan)

Mangrove Pit Viper Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus

Mangrove Pit Viper in Singapore (photo by Ria Tan)

Mangrove Pit Viper Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus Exotarium Oberhof malaysia mangrove

Mangrove Pit Viper in Malaysia (photo by Exotarium Oberhof)

Purple Pit Viper Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus malaysia Guenter Leitenbauer

Mangrove Pit Viper (photo by Guenter Leitenbauer)

Mangrove Pit Viper Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus

Mangrove Pit Viper in Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

English name: Mangrove Pit Viper (aka “Shore Pit Viper”)
Scientific name: Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus (formerly Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus)
Thai name: Ngu Pang-ka

Description: To 104cm long. Average girth with a characteristic broad triangular head. Scales are heavily keeled, giving the body a rough appearance. Heat-sensing pits are located on the head between the nose and each eye. Body is brown, gray, olive, or greenish-yellow above and lighter below, with large dark blotches across the back and a white stripe on the sides.

Similar Species: Green pit vipers (Trimeresurus albolabris and Trimeresurus macrops) are always green without the dark blotching.
Eastern Russell’s Viper has smaller, more distinct blotches and is not found in mangrove forests.
Many-spotted Cat Snake is more slender with a smaller head and has smaller, more distinct blotches.

Habitat: Found in mangrove and other coastal forests. Occasionally found further inland along canals leading in from the ocean. Usually seen 1 to 2 meters off the ground or water in trees or bushes.

Place in the ecosystem: Eats frogs, lizards, and small mammals. May be eaten by birds of prey and wading birds.

Danger to humans: The Mangrove Pit Viper can be an aggressive species with a dangerous bite. Bites result in intense pain, swelling, necrosis of flesh, and in some cases severe systemic bleeding. Fatalities are rare but the hemorrhagic nature of the venom can lead to serious medical problems. Anyone who is bitten by a pit viper should be taken to the hospital as quickly as possible.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats.

Interesting facts: Southeast Asian Pit Vipers are not as deadly as the local cobras, kraits, and true vipers, but still can do significant damage. Thailand’s pit vipers have a “hemorrhagic” venom that causes pain, swelling, coagulopathy, and some tissue damage. In serious cases severe coagulopathy, internal bleeding, and necrosis of the flesh can develop. Pit Viper-specific antivenom is available and should be administered as soon as possible to relieve symptoms and decrease long-term effects.

If you or someone you are with is bitten by a Mangrove Pit Viper, the most important steps are to:

1) Keep the victim calm, having them lie down with the bite mark below the heart if possible.
2) Take a picture of the snake to confirm identification for the hospital.
3) Get the victim to a hospital immediately where professional treatment can take place and antivenom can be given.

References:
Wikipedia entry for Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus
Ecology Asia: Shore Pit Viper
Biological properties of Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus (shore pit viper) venom and its fractions.
A national hospital-based survey of snakes responsible for bites in Thailand
Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute: Snake Farm
Snake Bites and their Treatment
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry

 

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Large-eyed Pit Viper

Trimeresurus macrops

Venomous and Dangerous!

Large-eyed Pit Viper Trimeresurus macrops

Large-eyed Pit Viper in Laos (photo by Gernot Vogel)

Large-eyed Tree Viper Cryptelytrops macrops

Another view of Large-eyed Pit Viper (photo by Gernot Vogel)

Large-eyed Pit Viper Trimeresurus macrops  Khao Yai Randy Ciuros

Large-eyed Pit Viper in Khao Yai (photo by Randy Ciuros)

large-eyed green pit viper Cryptelytrops macrops

Large-eyed Pit Viper at Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

Trimeresurus macrops (Big-eyed viper)   Kevin Messenger Nakhon Ratchasima

Large-eyed Pit Viper in Nakhon Ratchasima Province (photo by Kevin Messenger)

Large-eyed Pit Viper Cryptelytrops macrops (Big-eyed viper)   Kevin Messenger Nakhon Ratchasima

Another shot of Large-eyed Pit Viper (photo by Kevin Messenger)

Big-eyed Pit Viper Cryptelytrops macrops

Front view of Large-eyed Pit Viper (photo by Kevin Messenger)

Large-eyed Pit Viper Trimeresurus macrops

Large-eyed Pit Viper (photo by Tom Charlton, venomlogic.com)

Big-eyed Pit Viper Trimeresurus macrops

Large-eyed Pit Viper (photo by Tom Charlton, venomlogic.com)

Large-eyed Green Pit Viper Cryptelytrops macrops

Large-eyed Pit Viper (photo by Tom Charlton, venomlogic.com)

English name: Large-eyed Pit Viper (aka “Large-eyed Tree Viper”, “Large-eyed Green Pit Viper”, “Big-eyed Pit Viper”)
Scientific name: Trimeresurus macrops (formerly Cryptelytrops macrops)
Thai name: Ngu Kieo Hang-mi Ta To

Description: To 71cm long. A slender snake with a broad, somewhat short triangular head. Heat-sensing pits are located on the head between the nose and each eye. Body is dark green to bluish-green above and paler bluish-green to pale blue below. Head is green above and the lips and throat are bluish-green. Eyes are large and yellow to orange. Tail is reddish-brown.

Similar Species: White-lipped Pit Viper is white, yellowish, or pale green on the lips and throat and has a longer head and smaller eyes.
Mangrove Pit Viper is brown, gray, olive, or greenish-yellow and has dark blotches.
Golden Tree Snake has a narrower, non-triangular head and black markings.
Long-nosed Whip Snake is more slender and has a longer, narrower head that ends in a point.

Habitat: Can be found in forest, shrubland, plains, agricultural areas, and gardens. Usually found off the ground in trees or bushes but will also hunt on the ground at night.

Place in the ecosystem: Eats frogs and lizards, and occasionally mall rodents and birds as well. Is eaten by birds of prey and larger snakes.

Danger to humans: The Large-eyed Pit Viper has a dangerous bite and should be taken seriously. Bites can result in intense pain, swelling, necrosis of flesh, and in some cases severe systemic bleeding. Fatalities are very rare but local damage can be lasting. Anyone who is bitten by a pit viper should be taken to the hospital as quickly as possible. See “Interesting facts” for more information.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats.

Interesting facts: Southeast Asian Pit Vipers are not as deadly as the local cobras, kraits, and true vipers, but still can do some damage. The Large-eyed Pit Viper and White-lipped Pit Viper are together responsible for 40% of all snakebite hospitalizations in Thailand.

Thailand’s pit vipers have a “hemorrhagic” venom that causes pain, swelling, coagulopathy, and some tissue damage. In serious cases severe coagulopathy, internal bleeding, and necrosis of the flesh can develop. Pit Viper-specific antivenom is available and should be administered as soon as possible to relieve symptoms and decrease long-term effects.

If you or someone you are with is bitten by a Large-eyed Pit Viper, the most important steps are to:

1) Keep the victim calm, having them lie down with the bite mark below the heart if possible.
2) Take a picture of the snake to confirm identification for the hospital.
3) Get the victim to a hospital immediately where professional treatment can take place and antivenom can be given.

References:
Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute: Snake Farm
A national hospital-based survey of snakes responsible for bites in Thailand
Snake Bites and their Treatment
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry

 

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White-lipped Pit Viper

Trimeresurus albolabris

Venomous and Dangerous!

White-lipped Pit Viper Cryptelytrops albolabris

White-lipped Pit Viper in Hong Kong (photo by Thomas Brown)

White-lipped Pit Viper Trimeresurus albolabris head shot

Head shot of White-lipped Pit Viper (photo by Thomas Brown)

Bamboo Pit Viper Cryptelytrops albolabris

White-lipped Pit Viper in Hong Kong (photo by Thomas Brown)

Yellow-lipped Green Pit Viper Cryptelytrops albolabris

White-lipped Tree Viper from southern Thailand (photo by Maik Dobiey)

White-lipped Tree Viper Cryptelytrops albolabris

White-lipped Pit Viper in Krabi Province (photo by Tom Charlton, venomlogic.com)

Bamboo Viper Trimeresurus albolabris

White-lipped Tree Viper in Krabi Province (photo by Tom Charlton, venomlogic.com)

Yellow-lipped Green Pit Viper Cryptelytrops albolabris head

Head shot of White-lipped Tree Viper (photo by Maik Dobiey)

White-lipped Pit Viper (Cryptelytrops albolabris, formerly Trimeresurus albolabris)

White-lipped Pit Viper in Hong Kong (photo by Kevin Caldwell)

White-lipped Pit Viper (Cryptelytrops albolabris, formerly Trimeresurus albolabris)

Another White-lipped Pit Viper in Hong Kong (photo by Kevin Caldwell)

White-lipped Pit Viper (Cryptelytrops albolabris, formerly Trimeresurus albolabris) head shot

Head shot of White-lipped Pit Viper (photo by Kevin Caldwell)

English name: White-lipped Pit Viper (aka “White-lipped Tree Viper”, “Yellow-lipped Green Pit Viper”, “Bamboo Viper”)
Scientific name: Trimeresurus albolabris (formerly Cryptelytrops albolabris)
Thai name: Ngu Kieo Hang-mi Tong Loeng

Description: To 104cm long. A slender snake with a broad triangular head. Heat-sensing pits are located on the head between the nose and each eye. Body is green above and much paler green or yellowish below. Head is green above and the lips and throat are white, yellow, or pale green. Eyes are orangish-yellow. Tail is brown.

Similar Species: Large-eyed Pit Viper is blueish-green on the lips and throat and has a stouter head and larger eyes.
Mangrove Pit Viper is brown, gray, olive, or greenish-yellow and has dark blotches.
Golden Tree Snake has a narrower, non-triangular head and black markings.
Long-nosed Whip Snake is more slender and has a longer, narrower head that ends in a point.

Habitat: Can be found in forest, shrubland, plains, agricultural areas, and gardens. Usually found off the ground in trees or bushes.

Place in the ecosystem: Eats frogs and lizards, and occasionally small rodents and small birds as well. Is eaten by birds of prey and larger snakes.

Danger to humans: The White-lipped Pit Viper has a dangerous bite and should be taken seriously. Bites can result in intense pain, swelling, necrosis of flesh, and in some cases severe systemic bleeding. Fatalities are very rare but local damage can be lasting. Anyone who is bitten by a pit viper should be taken to the hospital as quickly as possible.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats. Is widespread and can tolerate a range of habitats.

Interesting facts: Southeast Asian Pit Vipers are not as deadly as the local cobras, kraits, and true vipers, but still can do some damage. The White-lipped Pit Viper is the leading cause of snakebite-related hospitalization in Thailand, and along with the Large-eyed Pit Viper is responsible for 40% of all snakebite hospitalizations in the country.

Thailand’s pit vipers have a “hemorrhagic” venom that causes pain, swelling, coagulopathy, and some tissue damage. In serious cases severe coagulopathy, internal bleeding, and necrosis of the flesh can develop. Pit viper-specific antivenom is available and should be administered as soon as possible to relieve symptoms and decrease long-term effects.

If you or someone you are with is bitten by a White-lipped Pit Viper, the most important steps are to:

1) Keep the victim calm, having them lie down with the bite mark below the heart if possible.
2) Take a picture of the snake to confirm identification for the hospital.
3) Get the victim to a hospital immediately where professional treatment can take place and antivenom can be given.

References:
IUCN Redlist: Cryptelytrops albolabris
Severe coagulopathy associated with white-lipped green pit viper bite
A national hospital-based survey of snakes responsible for bites in Thailand
Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute: Snake Farm
Wikipedia: Trimeresurus albolabris
University of Hong Kong: Cryptelytrops albolabris
Ecology Asia: White-lipped Pit Viper
Snake Bites and their Treatment
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry

 

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Eastern Russell’s Viper

Daboia siamensis

Venomous and Deadly!

Siamese Russell's Viper Daboia russelii siamensis in Taiwan

Eastern Russell’s Viper in Taiwan (photo by Hans Brueur)

Chain Viper Daboia russelii siamensis head shot

Eastern Russell’s Viper head shot (photo by Hans Breuer)

Juvenile Eastern Russell's Viper Daboia russelii siamensis Taiwan

Juvenile Eastern Russell’s Viper in Taiwan (photo by Hans Breuer)

siamese russell's viper Daboia siamensis

Eastern Russell’s Viper in field in Rangsit (photo by Michael Cota)

Kevin Caldwell Daboia siamensis, eastern Russell's viper indonesia

Eastern Russell’s Viper in Indonesia (photo by Kevin Caldwell)

Ross McGibbon Sa Kaeo Daboia siamensis siamese Russell's viper thailand

Eastern Russell’s Viper in Sa Kaeo Province (photo by Ross McGibbon)

Ross McGibbon Sa Kaeo Daboia siamensis siamese Russell's viper thailand

Profile of Eastern Russell’s Viper (photo by Ross McGibbon)

Daboia siamensis siamese Russell's viper thailand

Eastern Russell’s Viper in Indonesia (photo by Dan Bromley)

Young Eastern Russell's Viper in Indonesia (photo by Gary Stephenson www.flickr.com/photos/gazs_pics)

Young Eastern Russell’s Viper in Indonesia (photo by Gary] Stephenson http://www.flickr.com/photos/gazs_pics)

Adrian Hillman Suphan Buri Daboia siamensis siamese Russells viper thailand

Eastern Russell’s Viper killed on road in Suphan Buri Province (photo by Adrian Hillman)

English name: Eastern Russell’s Viper (aka “Siamese Russell’s Viper”, “Chain Viper”)
Scientific name: Daboia siamensis (formerly Daboia russelii)
Thai name: Ngu Meow-sao

Description: To 166 cm long. Has a thick body and a broad triangular head. Body is yellow to brown with a row of large black-bordered blotches down the back and rows of smaller blotches down each side. Each blotch has a narrow white ring around the black border. Head is the same color as the body with several dark botches and marks that vary by region. Underbelly is white to yellowish.

Similar Species: Many-spotted Cat Snake has a slender, vertically compressed body, a smaller head, and is usually found in trees.
Mangrove Pit Viper has less distinct blotches and is only found in mangrove forests.
Burmese Python is much larger, has a larger, flatter head, and has rows of large scales along each lip.

Habitat: Most often found in open dry grassy areas. Also frequents brushy fields, scrub forest and agriculture. Can be found near human habitations, but is not commonly seen within Bangkok itself. During the day is usually found hiding in bushes, grass clumps, between rocks, or in depressions in the ground.

Place in the ecosystem: Russell’s Viper is often found near human habitations hunting mice and rats. On occasion it will also eat lizards, frogs, birds, or arthropods.

Danger to humans: Russell’s Viper is one of the deadliest snakes in Thailand. Though it may sometimes appear sluggish, when threatened it is aggressive and can strike with surprising speed. Absolutely avoid harassing this snake as it may strike without prior warning. See “Interesting Facts” for more specifics.

Conservation status and threats: A widespread collection network in southeast Asia and the killing of the snakes out of fear represent major threats to their populations.

Interesting facts: Worldwide, Russell’s Viper is one of the leading contributors to snakebite deaths. In Thailand it is one of the thee snakes most responsible for hospitalization due to snakebite and the most deadly of those three.

Russell’s Viper has a “hemorrhagic” venom which can cause difficulties in blood coagulation, intense internal bleeding, and acute tubular necrosis of the kidneys. Intense abdominal pain and vomiting may occur due to gastrointestinal bleeding. Death may come from collapse of the cardiovascular or renal systems or as a result of hemorrhaging in the brain or other organs. On average an untreated person takes approximately 48 hours to succumb to the venom, and the fatality rate without treatment may be 50%. However, Russell’s Viper-specific antivenom is widely available in Thailand and will usually save the victim’s life if administered within a few hours after the bite.

If you or someone you are with is bitten by a Russell’s Viper, the most important steps are to:

1) Keep the victim calm, having them lie down with the bite mark below the heart if possible.
2) Take a picture of the snake to confirm identification for the hospital.
3) Get the victim to a hospital immediately where professional treatment can take place and antivenom can be given.

References:
IUCN Red List: Eastern Russell’s Viper Daboia siamensis
Russell’s Viper envenoming in Hong Kong
A national hospital-based survey of snakes responsible for bites in Thailand
Reptile Database: Daboia siamensis
Wikipedia: Daboia
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry
Snake Bites and their Treatment
Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World
Michael Cota, personal communication

 

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Banded Krait

Bungarus fasciatus

Venomous and Deadly!

Banded Krait Bungarus fasciatus Bangladesh

Banded Krait found in fallow field at night in Bangladesh

Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus)

Banded Krait in Hong Kong (photo by Kevin Caldwell)

Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus)

Another Banded Krait in Hong Kong (photo by Kevin Caldwell)

banded krait Bungarus fasciatus

Banded Krait in Thailand (photo by Michael Cota)

banded krait Bungarus fasciatus

Banded Krait found in forest stream in Cambodia (photo by Jodi Rowley)

banded krait Bungarus fasciatus

Banded Krait in Indonesia (photo by Wolfgang Wuster)

Banded Krait Bungarus fasciatus

Banded Krait in Malaysia (photo by Max Dehling)

Banded krait (Bungarus fasciatus)

Banded Krait in Vietnam (photo by Scott Trageser, naturestills.com)

Banded krait (Bungarus fasciatus)

Front view of Banded Krait (photo by Scott Trageser, naturestills.com)

Banded krait (Bungarus fasciatus)

Head shot of Banded Krait (photo by Scott Trageser, naturestills.com)

Banded Krait Bungarus fasciatus crossing road in Khao Yai

Banded Krait crossing road at night in Khao Yai (photo by Curtis Hart)

Banded Krait Bungarus fasciatus Bangladesh eating wolf snake

Banded Krait eating Indian Wolf Snake in Bangladesh

banded krait Bungarus fasciatus eating frog legs

Banded Krait eating frog legs at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

English name: Banded Krait
Scientific name: Bungarus fasciatus
Thai name: Ngu Samlaem

Description: To 212 cm long. Triangular body with a high vertebral ridge and a short, blunt tail. Head is broad and flattened and eyes are small. Body is marked with distinct dark and light bands of equal width. Bands are usually black and yellow, but can be black and white in some individuals. Underbelly is the same color as the top of the snake. Head is black with a yellow chin/throat and a narrow yellow inverted-V on the top.

Similar Species: Common Bridle Snake has a more slender, vertically compressed body, longer tail, less distinct bands near the tail, and never has yellow bands.
Common Wolf snake does not have the triangular body shape and has less distinct bands.
Red-tailed Pipe Snake has a round rather than triangular body, much narrower light bands, and a broader tail.
Malayan Krait has a more rounded body, long tail, and narrower head.
Sea Snakes (family Hydrophiinae) and Sea Kraits (family Laticauda) have a paddle-shaped tail and are found in marine habitats.

Habitat: Found in lightly forested areas, shrubland, open plains, marshes, and agricultural land, often near human habitations. Can be found on the coast and will enter salt water. Hides under rocks and logs or in termite mounds, rodent burrows, drains, or houses during the day, waiting until dark to become active and hunt.

Place in the ecosystem: Eats other snakes, lizards, frogs, and fish. Is eaten by larger snakes and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: When disturbed, the Banded Krait will often thrash about and try to hide its head rather than biting. That doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the deadliest snakes in Thailand. Under no circumstances should you handle or harass this snake, or any other banded snake unless you have made a 100% positive identification. See “Interesting Facts” for more specifics.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats in Thailand. Is listed in CITES Appendix II and is considered “Endangered” in China and Singapore.

Interesting facts: Though not quite as deadly as its notorious relative the Many-banded Krait, the Banded Krait is still one of the deadliest snakes in Thailand. Most bites happen to people who step on a krait or try to pick one up. Always be careful to watch your step when in potential snake country, and never pick up any snake unless you are 100% confident what species it is and know that species to be harmless.

Kraits have a “neurotoxic” venom that is fast-acting and primarily affects the nervous system. Initial symptoms are abdominal cramps (due to gastrointestinal hemorrhaging), nausea and disorientation, progressing to difficulty in speech, tremors, and seizures, and eventually complete paralysis. Breathing becomes more difficult as the venom takes effect and death usually results from respiratory failure. Heart failure is also possible due to the cardiotoxicity of the venom. Death can occur within 5 to 20 hours without treatment (faster if a vein is bitten), but injection of the correct antivenom will reverse the symptoms if done speedily enough. A quick trip to the nearest hospital will usually save the victim’s life. Artificial respiration may be necessary if the victim’s breathing stops before the antivenom has the chance to be administered or take full effect. Necrosis of the flesh can develop in the days following the bite if the victim survives the initial symptoms.

If you or someone you are with is bitten by a Banded Krait, the most important steps are to:

1) Keep the victim calm, having them lie down with the bite mark below the heart if possible.
2) Take a picture of the snake to confirm identification for the hospital.
3) Get the victim to a hospital immediately where professional treatment can take place and antivenom can be given.
4) Start rescue breathing if the victim’s breathing stops and continue until they are in the care of medical professionals.

References:
Wikipedia: Bungarus fasciatus
Wikipedia: Bungarus
Hong Kong University: Banded Krait
Ecology Asia: Banded Krait
Wild Singapore: Banded Krait
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
A Field Guide to the Snakes of South Vietnam
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry
Snake Bites and their Treatment
Simon and Schuster’s Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World

 

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Oriental Rat Snake

Ptyas mucosa

Kevin Messenger hong kong Ptyas mucosus

Oriental Rat Snake in Hong Kong (photo by Kevin Messenger)

Oriental Rat Snake ptyas mucosus taiwan

Oriental Rat Snake on road in Taiwan (photo by Hans Breuer)

Oriental Rat Snake ptyas mucosus Taiwan defensive display

Oriental Rat Snake expanding neck (photo by Hans Breuer)

Common Rat Snake Ptyas muscosa

Oriental Rat Snake in tree in Hong Kong (photo by Thomas Brown)

Ptyas mucosa Thomas Brown China

Oriental Rat Snake found at night in China (photo by Thomas Brown)

Oriental Rat Snake  Ptyas mucosus

Oriental Rat Snake as found in forest in India

Indian Rat Snake Ptyas muscosa Kolkata water

Oriental Rat Snake cruising through a pond in India

Oriental Rat Snake  Ptyas mucosus

Juvenile Oriental Rat Snake caught in lake in India

oriental rat snake Ptyas mucosus head shot

Head Shot of Oriental Rat Snake at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

oriental rat snake Ptyas mucosus eating frog

Oriental Rat Snake eating frog at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

English name: Oriental Rat Snake
Scientific name: Ptyas mucosa (formerly Ptyas mucosus)
Thai name: Ngu Sing Hang Lai, Ngu Sing Dong

Description: To 370cm long. The largest snake in Bangkok other than the pythons. Eyes are notably large. Tail is especially long. Body is light brown to black above with narrow black crossbands on the last third of the body that become more indistinct with age. Juveniles are olive and usually have light crossbands on the front two-thirds of the body. Underbelly is grayish white to yellow with thin black banding.

Similar Species: Indo-Chinese Rat Snake lacks the black crossbands on the last third of its body.
Monacled Cobra has smaller eyes, a blunter head, and a characteristic marking on the back of the neck/head that expands when displaying.
Yellow-spotted Keelback has black markings on the entire body.

Habitat: Can be found in almost any habitat from thick jungle to agricultural fields and parks. Appears to prefer open woodland, scrubland, lightly treed grassland, and parks, possibly tending towards drier landscapes than the Indo-Chinese Rat Snake. Spends most of its time on the ground but climbs well and will often sleep in trees. Will enter human dwellings while hunting rats.

Place in the ecosystem: Primarily preys on rats and helps control rodent populations in Bangkok. Will also feed on squirrels, bats, frogs, lizards, smaller snakes, birds, and even turtles. Its juveniles provide food for larger snakes, monitors and birds of prey.

Danger to humans: This large snake becomes aggressive and strikes repeatedly when cornered, potentially drawing blood. However, it is non-venomous and cannot cause any serious injury.

Conservation status and threats: The Oriental Rat Snake has no known conservation issues in Thailand, but is hunted for its meat. Is listed as Endangered in China. In Indonesia, TRAFFIC has raised official concerns due to the large numbers of Oriental Rat Snakes that are exported out of the country outside of official government regulation.

Interesting facts: When threatened this snake will sometimes inflate its neck and make a growling noise. Some herpetologists believe this is mimicry of the King Cobra, a similarly large southeast Asian snake with an extremely venomous bite. Unfortunately, the attempted mimicry may be counterproductive when done towards humans, as anything thought to be a cobra is likely to be killed.

After capturing a potential prey item, the Oriental Rat Snake will use its body to press the animal against the ground or another hard surface until it suffocates, rather than using its coils to wrap around the food like many other snakes.

References:
Snakes of Taiwan: Ptyas mucosa
University of Hong Kong: Ptyas mucosus
Wikipedia: Ptyas mucosus
Wildlife Watch: Future of Asian snakes at state
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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Indo-Chinese Sand Snake

Psammophis indochinensis

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake in Chiang Mai Province (photo by Paul Donatus)

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake from above (photo by Paul Donatus)

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis indochinensis) chiang mai thailand

Head shot of Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (photo by Paul Donatus)

Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (Psammophis condenarus)

Captive-bred Indo-Chinese Sand Snake (photo by save-snakes.com)

English name: Indo-Chinese Sand Snake
Scientific name: Psammophis indochinensis (formerly known as Psammophis condanarus indochinensis)
Thai name: Ngu Man-tong

Description: To 107cm long. A slender snake with an oval head. Its upper body is olive to buff with four dark brown stripes, splitting the body evenly into dark and light stripes. Underbelly is yellow with a thin black line bordering each side.

Similar Species: Painted Bronzeback has a black stripe on its side that goes through the eye, a much broader brown area on its back, and a white underbelly.
Buff-striped Keelback lacks the brown stripes on the side of the light stripes, and has dark bands all along the body.
Striped Kukri Snake has a light stripe down the middle of its back, has less distinct striping, has characteristic dark markings on its head, and has a red or pink underbelly.
Rainbow Water Snake is much thicker, is darker with less distinct striping, and is almost always found in the water.

Habitat: Lives in moist open woodland, scrubland, and grassland. Is often found climbing trees and bushes, but will often rest in burrows.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Indo-Chinese Sand Snake feeds on rodents, frogs lizards, and smaller snakes. This snake is eaten by larger snakes, birds of prey, and monitors.

Danger to humans: Has rear fangs but is not dangerous to humans. The bite may cause some swelling.

Conservation status and threats: Much of this snake’s habitat has been converted into agricultural land, and it is now rarely seen. I know of no one who has seen an Indo-Chinese Sand Snake in Bangkok, and the last sighting I know of in Chiang Mai was more than five years ago. Though it has a wide range the agricultural threats to its habitat exist across its range and it may be in some danger.

Interesting facts: The Indo-Chinese Sand Snake gets its name from its use of habitats with sandy soils, where it takes shelter in the burrows of other animals.

References:
IUCN Red List: Psammophis condanarus
Thailand Snakes! IndoChinese Sand Snake
Michael Cota, personal communication
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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Striped Kukri Snake

Oligodon taeniatus

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus) juvenile

Juvenile Striped Kukri Snake flipped under log in Chatuchak

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus) head view

Head shot of Striped Kukri Snake from above

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus) ventral view

Ventral view of Striped Kukri Snake

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus)

Tail of juvenile Striped Kukri Snake, raised in defensive position

Oligodon taeniatus   Michael Cota Rangsit_files

Striped Kukri Snake in Rangsit (photo by Michael Cota)

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus)

Striped Kukri Snake in Vietnam (photo by Scott Trageser, naturestills.com)

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus)

Tail shot of Striped Kukri Snake (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser, naturestills.com)

Striped Kukri Snake Oligodon taeniatus ventral view

Striped Kukri Snake in Sisaket Province (photo by Wolfgang Wuster)

Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon taeniatus)

Striped Kukri Snake in bathroom in Payao Province (Photo by Phillip Orchard)

View from above showing dorsal markings (Photo by Phillip Orchard)

English name: Striped Kukri Snake (aka “Four-lined Kukri Snake”)
Scientific name: Oligodon taeniatus
Thai name: Ngu Ngod Thai

Description: To 45 cm long. This small snake gets its name from the light stripe with dark border that runs down its back. It also has a thin dark stripe on each side of its body. Background coloration is grey to brown. Underbelly is pink or orangish-red with black markings. There is a dark line that goes through both eyes and three dark blotches positioned on top of the head behind the eyes.

Similar Species: Banded Kukri Snake has transverse blotches rather than stripes and lacks the pattern of dark blotches on the head.
Indo-Chinese Sand Snake has stripes on the side that are lighter than the back, lacks the characteristic dark markings on top of the head, and has a yellow underbelly.

Habitat: Lowland forest, where it will usually hide under stones, wood, or leaves. Can often be found in parks and gardens.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Eats lizards, especially small skinks. Also eats frogs and the eggs of birds and other reptiles. Provides food for larger snakes and monitors.

Danger to humans: No danger to humans – is small and has no venom.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation threats.

Interesting facts: As a defensive display the Striped Kukri Snake will raise and curl its tail to reveal the red coloration underneath. This may be an attempt to mimic the display of southeast Asian coral snakes.

Kukri snakes have teeth that are specially modified to slice open bird, lizard, turtle, and snake eggs, which form an important part of their diet.

References:
The Reptile Database: Oligodon taeniatus
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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