It may come as no surprise to learn that Thailand has become the 4th most popular place in the world for adventure, and with more than 10% of the world’s animals, in hand with a diverse landscape famed for its unique scenery, it’s really not hard to see why it’s so popular amongst adventure seeking travellers year after year.
Whatever it is you’re looking for, Thailand has something for every animal and nature lover.
What you may or may not realise however is that the most prolific animal you’ll likely cross paths with while visiting Thailand is the snake. Or should we say snakes, because boy is there a lot of them.
Are Snakes Common in Thailand?
With some 230 different species of snake recorded in Thailand, it’s fair to say that snakes are a fairly common occurrence. For the uninitiated, it can often be a shock to cross paths with snakes so frequently. Have you ever imagined going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and getting bitten by a snake? It happens. Regularly.
Thankfully most aren’t venomous or much of a threat, although that isn’t to say that there aren’t some are incredibly dangerous ones lurking around. It’s therefore important to take precautions and educate yourself on what’s what, along with how you can expect some of the more common snakes to behave around humans while you’re out there adventuring around the Land of Smiles.
What Kind of Snakes are in Thailand?
To put it simply, there are a ton of different types of snakes in Thailand, and from all sorts of snake families. For instance, there are over 120 different kinds of Colubrid snake in Thailand alone, and more than 20 different types of Pit Viper. These and the following different families of snake can be found in various parts of Thailand:
- Pit vipers (including mountain pit vipers, pit vipers and green pit vipers)
- Elaphid snakes (such as the cobras genus, king cobra, coral snakes, long-glanded coral snakes, kraits genus)
- Colubrid snakes (slug-eating snakes, dragon snakes, blunt-headed tree snake, racers, ringnecks, brown snakes, smooth snakes, reed snakes, mountain reed snakes, kukri snakes, bronzebacks, tree snakes, cat snakes, blackheads, mountain snakes, red snakes, wolf snakes and bridle snakes, sand snakes, mock vipers, mountain stream snakes, keelbacks, mountain keelbacks, Asian keelbacks)
- Pipe snakes
- Sunbeam snakes
- Bearded snakes
- Wart snakes
- Homalopsine water snakes (made up of Mud snakes, Bockadams, Crab-eating snakes, Mangrove snakes, Estuarine snakes, Tentacled snake)
- Blind snakes
- Sea snakes (which includes Sea kraits, aipysurus genus, kolpophis genus, hydrophis genus and thalassophis genus)
Not all of the above snakes are so regularly seen however, so the following are some of the more commonly found snakes that you might come across in Thailand:
The Burmese Python, AKA the Python bivittatus bivittatus, is usually found living within the countryside amongst all of the long grass and trees, or on the edge of mountains and hills. While they can sometimes be found Bangkok’s inner city regions, this isn’t quite so common, and they tend to be seen more at night than during the day.
As with all other pythons the Burmese Python lays eggs, and is able to lay and incubate as many as 100 eggs at a time. Around 2 months later these eggs will hatch, and when fully grown, the Burmese Python can reach up to 7 metres in length, and likes to eat warm-blooded mammals. In fact, they’ve been known to be able to stomach anything up to the size of a German shepherd!
The Burmese Python is a relatively peaceful snake all things considered, and instances of people being bitten by them are pretty uncommon. That being said, with the ability to reach the aforementioned 7 metres in length, their sheer size alone can present some degree of danger.
The Reticulatus Python, also known as the Malayoython reticulatus, can be found all throughout Thailand, even regularly being spotted roaming the inner city spots of Bangkok. They can most commonly be seen at night and close to water however, and are renowned for their long distance swimming.
While a Reticulatus Python can be fairly aggressive and known to bite at even the smallest of disturbances, it’s venom isn’t too much to worry about. Their size however can prove to be dangerous, as many can grow to be upwards of 4 metres in length.
Oriental Whip Snakes
Officially known as Ahaetulla prasina, the typically all green coloured Oriental Whip snake can be found in the trees and forests of agricultural areas throughout all of Thailand. Lying in distinctive loose loops both while awake and asleep, Oriental Whip snakes tend to stick to the outer branches, where they can easier feed on birds, frogs and lizards.
The oriental Whip snake isn’t considered to be dangerous, although it can bite and it is venomous. If it does bite, it’ll need a good 15 minutes of massaging their venom into the bite for any effect to take place, giving you plenty of time to get free.
Golden Tree Snake
The Golden Tree Snake can be found in all sorts of places in Thailand, from inner city parts of Pattaya and Bangkok to homes and gardens and forests. Known amongst experts as Chrysopelea ornate ornatissima, the Golden Tree snake can ultimately be found wherever the geckos, lizards and rodents they love to eat can be found. Likely also due to their diet, they’re mostly active during the daytime, and are renowned for their speed and ability to climb walls.
While the Chrysopelea family of snakes is a venomous one, the venom is so mild that if it were to bite a human then it wouldn’t have much of an effect.
Like the name suggests, the Copperhead Racer, or Coelognatus radiates, is a fast snake, and is able to quickly flee if it begins to sense its in danger. Growing to around 2 metres and usually found in wooded areas and in villages and towns all over Thailand, the Copperhead Racer likes to stay down on the ground, and is usually most active during the daytime.
If the Copperhead Racer does begin to sense any danger and is unable to flee, they’ll usually get themselves into a double S shape and start to snap, or alternatively play dead. There’s nothing to worry about when it comes to being in danger with a Copperhead Racer, as they’re non-venomous they pose no threat to humans at all.
Laotian Wolf Snake
The Laotian Wolf snake is a very thin snake, and grows to a maximum length of around 50 centimetres. Also known as Lycodon laoensis, the Laotian Wolf snake is black with yellow stripes, and most commonly found in the countryside and in hilly or mountainous terrain.
While it’s an aggressive little snake that could still bite, it mainly suffers from short man syndrome and is pretty much harmless. That being said, it can be fairly easily mistaken for a Banded Krait snake due to its similar yellow and black stripes. This snake is incredibly venomous and deadly, so be careful.
Indochinese Rat Snake
Typically growing to little over a metre in length, the Indochinese Rat snake (Ptyas korros) can usually be found around the lowland areas throughout all of Thailand during the day time.
While they pose no threat to humans, they can be very quick to jump and bite when cornered and feeling threatened. Typically though they’re fairly speedy snakes, and would ultimately prefer to flee.
Known officially as Xenochrophis piscator, the Checkered Keelback is also known as a fish snake, due to it’s propensity to be found in close proximity to water. Often reaching lengths of up to 2 metres, the Checkered Keelback is most commonly active in the daytime, and can be known to cover pretty large distances when on the prowl for some dinner.
The Checkered Keelback can often be mistaken for a Cobra due to the way in which, if agitated, it will often flatten out the neck and stand erect before moving in to bite. If they do bite, it isn’t threatening to humans.
The Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia) can be a relatively common sighting, and seen all over Thailand, as well as in parts of Nepal, southern China and elsewhere. While it typically likes to stick to the ground, its just as proficient at swimming or climbing, and it can be found in various locations across the country from rice fields and plantations to cities and villages, both day and night.
The Monocled Cobra is one of the most dangerous snakes that can be found in Thailand. Often growing past 2 metres in length, they’re still incredibly agile and swift, and their venom is extremely potent and life threatening to humans. The Monocled Cobra is definitely one to avoid.
Malayan Pit Viper
The Malayan Pit Viper, otherwise known as Calloselasma rhodostoma, can usually be found around old wood or dry leaves and stones. Similar in colour to these surroundings, the Malayan Pit Viper can grow up to a metre in length, and mostly only comes out at night.
Like with the Monocled Cobra, the Malayan Pit Viper is one of the deadliest venomous snakes in Thailand, and if it feels threatened it can advance incredibly quickly when coming in to bite.
White-lipped Pit Viper
There are more than 20 different speciaes of Pit Viper in Thailand, and for most there’s no easy way to tell which is which. The White-lipped Pit Viper however, also known as Cryptelytrops albolabris, is one of the most frequently found snakes in Thailand, predominantly choosing to do its business near human settlements in wooden or bushy areas close to water. Living off of a diet of birds, lizards, rodents and frogs, Pit Vipers stick to the ground at night, and can grow to just over a metre in length — although males tend to be a little shorter.
While the White-lipped Pit Viper isn’t much of a threat to humans, it’s still be very painful if one bites. White-lipped Pit Viper bites are a frequent occurrence in Thailand, so common in fact that a serum to protect humans from all green Pit Vipers is readily available. Should one bite, it could lead to necrosis.
What is the Most Dangerous Animal in Thailand?
In a land full of giant centipedes the size of a grown man’s forearm, scorpions, jellyfish, venomous red lion fish, mosquitos and a whole lot more, snakes are one of the most dangerous animals Thailand has to offer.
The most deadly is the aforementioned Monocled Cobra, and despite often growing more than 7ft long, this by no means weighs it down. If a Monocled Cobra feels threatened and wants to attack it will have no issue doing so incredibly swiftly, and thanks to it’s highly deadly venom, Monocled Cobras provide the highest fatality rate of all snakes in Thailand.
In addition to Monocled Cobras, the King Cobra and Spitting Cobras also provide a large threat. King Cobras can grow as large as 5 metres, and baby King Cobras especially are incredibly venomous, as too are Spitting Cobras. The only difference here is, as the name suggests, Spitting Cobras are incredibly efficient and accurate when it comes to spitting venom in the eyes. Their goal is to blind the threat, and they can do so with sniper-like precision from as far as 3 metres away.
Are There any Poisonous Snakes in Thailand?
So as you’ve no doubt discovered by now, there are indeed poisonous snakes in Thailand. In fact, over 7,000 snakebites are treated each year in Thailand’s hospitals, with the aforementioned Monocled Cobra most responsible when it comes to any resulting fatalities. Along with the King Cobra and Spitting Cobra, the following are also some of the most poisonous snakes that can be found in Thailand:
- Chain Viper
- Pit Viper
- Coral Snakes
It’s important that you make sure you’re wearing long trousers and long boots if you are heading out, and take a stick with which to constantly hit the ground if you’re going to be walking in tall grass. If a venomous snake is going to cross your path, it’s vital that you don’t attack, or even try to scare it away. Simply stay out of its path or allow it to run away, as most will always prefer to do.
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