Thailand’s Snakes in the Dark


snake-vertLast night I went out about midnight on the porch to secure the motorbikes together with some steel cables and big padlock like I do every night.

Something was strange looking on one of the motorbike seats and it too me a second to realize as it started to move – it was an almost 2 meter long green snake!

Well, I love snakes so I immediately asked my wife to bring me the digital camera so I could take some video and photos. Why didn’t I get it myself? I learned something. NEVER take my eyes off the snake – no matter what. I’ve lost a couple that way.

The video was much too dark but I got about 80 photos as I tried to coax it into the neighboring jungle area and away from our group of houses.

The head of this snake is triangular – signaling poisonous, but small. I think the head of a pit viper is usually larger. Either way, I didn’t do anything too crazy, but I had to lift him up with my stick and play with him a bit. He was really slow moving and deliberate… didn’t strike once no matter how I moved him around with my stick.

At one point he climbed up the wall into the window of my neighbor – who wasn’t home yet. She’d have flipped out, I know.

The snake expert, Joachim Bulian, said on his snake site it’s particularly hard to ID the green vipers in Thailand. Well, here’s what he said…

A normal person cannot tell the difference between the green Pit Vipers. The following Pit Vipers, present in Thailand, have a green colour:

* Cryptelytrops (Trimeresurus) albolabris (White-lipped Pit Viper)
* Viridovipera (Trimeresurus) gumprechti (Gumprecht’s Pit Viper)
* Parias (Trimeresurus) hageni Hagen’s Pit Viper
* Cryptelytrops (Trimeresurus) macrops (Large-eyed Pit Viper)
* Popeia (Trimeresurus) popeiorum popeiorum (Popes Pit Viper)
* Popeia (Trimeresurus) fucatus *in the works from MALHOTRA & THORPE (2004) not yet entered
* MALHOTRA & THORPE follows, entered here under the name Popeia
* Parias (Trimeresurus) sumatranus (Sumatra Pit Viper)
* Viridovipera (Trimeresurus) vogeli (Bird Pit Viper)

I’d say from the photos and description on his site that mine is a:

Trimeresurus hageni
Thai:ThaiSnakeName-95 (ngu kiau hang mai)

But, supposedly it only grows to 116 cm – this one was definitely longer – over a meter and a half.

Here’s a photo that closely matches my snake… the belly was that same color of yellow. The head and eye looks just like it…

Trimeresurus hageni >

Any other guesses?

Oops – update: Snake expert, Joachim Bulian zapped me an email… this is a Boiga cyanea – a Green Cat Snake! They have poison, but are rear-fanged and due to their docile nature are pretty harmless for humans. They grow up to 186 cm – which matches my snake’s size. Picture and more at next post, Thailand’s Cat Snake >

More information needed on Thailand snakes? Try this…

Thailand Snakes FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions and Answers regarding Thailand’s poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes.

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.

9 thoughts on “Thailand’s Snakes in the Dark”

  1. Hi Vern

    I found a nice pristine skin of ‘my’ Chrysopelea ornata in our garage (even with the glazy coverings at the eyes!!!) So excited!
    How can I preserve and keep it best in this hot and humid climate?
    Do you have any ideas?

    1. Not really… but of course I’ll come up with some… air conditioned place. Or you could find a lot of those little dry dessicant packets and put the skin in a box with those – or a plastic bottle – that’d be best – airtight. The skins deteriorate very quickly in the humidity! Good luck!

  2. I was just lying in my bed on Phuket with the curtains open to get the breeze in. I could not sleep and felt that the crickets where extremely loud this night. I stood up and looked at the floor on the balcony (not a usual thing to do) and I saw this long tail lying on the floor. When I turned on the lights I saw it was a very long slim green snake. First I thought it was the Chrysopelea ornata that we have living around our house, but after taking several pictures and getting closer and closer I suddenly realized with a shock that this ones head was heart shaped and did NOT have those beautiful markings like the Chrysopelea! I ran to get my snake book and looked it up. Ohoh looked a lot like a viper. Now I started to panic slightly. I love snakes but a dangerous snake like this was now to close for comfort. Especially after we lived last year with a couple of Cobras living in the foundation of the house, making baby’s. They at least did not climb strait up against the wall. This one was on our balcony on the first floor, close to our bed and there are no stairs going to that balcony! He must have climbed up against the wall.So he can climb against any wall of our house whenever he wants to. How safe are those mosquito screens???Do we always keep the windows closed properly? Will he gets us in our sleep???

    He had been lying on the balcony railing for at least 30 minutes while I was taking pictures /looking him up in the book and discussing what to do with him. If we called someone for help he would surely be killed. Something I really would hate to have to do. Anyway he started to move and climbed against the wall into a tiny little hole in the roof. His house I guess. Now at least we new where he lived and that meant that we could find him if we would want to do something about him. But first we need to find out if he really was/is so I googled, and arrived on this site and low and behold I think my snake is not a viper! If so he can stay and live here for as long as he wants and that would be nice company for the Chrysopelea. Anyway he was at least 1.50 cm if not longer. Tomorrow I can probable measure the balcony railing and make a better guess. His head was small, he was very passive (which actually worried me because the whole ‘oh a snake is much more scared from you then you from him ‘did not seem true at all here)I did not see his tongue move in and out, he was very good at climbing,he was beautifully green with a lighter yellowish belly, his skin looked like he just shed it so shiny and smooth was it, and his eyes where big but not really big. I really hope it is the Boiga cyanea it really looks like it a lot. I have many many pictures I could post but have no clue how to do that on this site yet.

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Because the head was a bit triangular I thought my Boiga cyanea was a viper for a while too. The cat snake does have a rather triangular head and I didn’t get too close to this one. I was told by a snake guy living south of Surat that mine was a cat snake here. They are very slow, deliberate and not easily excited snakes… they do love to get into screens and windows. They are nocturnal and love geckos and tokay geckos. The Chrysopelea and the Boiga are venomous to some degree. They’re both rear-fanged snakes but, if they bite and chew they can inject venom enough to send you to the hospital. Don’t get that close to either. You can send photos to my email. I’m emailing you in a minute. Cheers Deb and thanks for the great comment!

  3. i live in north east thailand and only last week i was sitting in the front room, playing with the pc, i suddenly saw a rather large lizard dash across the floor, coming out of the kitchen and out the front door. curious as to what caused him to run for his life, i went into the kitchen to investigate. there, half in and half out of the grill door, head raised about a foot of the floor was this green beautiful snake! we looked at each other for a brief moment and i got hold of the mop which was lying handy and ushered it out of the kitchen. he slithered away into the banana grove just at my back door. needless to say the grill door has been modified to keep him out should he decide to return.
    i really dont know what type of snake it was but im hoping it was non venomous!

    1. Thanks for the story Ben… Type of snake? Golden Tree snake, green cat snake, Oriental Whip Snake – maybe one of those… how long was it? How thick? Colors… green belly, green top, green head?

  4. Hey Vern… I had this same snake in a banana tree next to my Kuti (monks hut). I don’t like snakes, but coaxed this one into the tall grasses on the hill side behind my hut. He didn’t seem to care about me being so close to him. Just kind of ignored me actually. I’ve seen several snakes around the temple here, nothing that I noticed that looks dangerous. We did have a python of sorts awhile back, he was up in my rafters. I convinced him to move somewhere else. Not sure where, but I still look for him from time to time. He was about 8′ long and about as thick as my arm. Basically what I did, was pour on the incense sticks and bug spray and he left. Didn’t like the smell I guess. :-)

    1. Gotta be careful with the green ones – there are lots of vipers that are green – and very poisonous. This one has some venom – but, rear-fanged and can’t really bite that well or that long to chew the venom into you. Assuming you don’t let it. This was a very cool snake -and I’m tempted to go look for him in the yard. I think I know where he hangs out.

      Yesterday I saw a small copperheaded racer going across the road. I stopped and pulled his tail to get him in the road while I found something to get him with… and eventually just couldn’t find anything fast enough – a car was coming. He went off the side of the road and I lost him quick. Then when I got home I realized… take off my shirt and scoop him up with that. Next time… just hope it’s not a poisonous one the next time I’m unprepared.

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