Elapidae-Check list snakes northern Thailand

Snakes of northern Thailand: Elapidae  (cobras, kraits, coral snakes)

Bungarus candidus, the Blue Krait or Malayan Krait (above). This black-and-white banded krait can reach a length of 130 cm. In cross section the body is less triangular than in B. fasciatus. The vertebral scales are enlarged. The black bands are about 2-3 times broader than the white bands, the  latter usually contain numerous little black streaks. This krait occurs throughout the region, both in cultivated land and forests, from 100-1500 m asl. A-B. Adult specimens from Umphang District, Tak. C. A subadult from Tak’s Mae Sot District. D. An adult individual from Pa Sang District, Lamphun. E. Lateral view of an adult from Mae Fa Luang District, Chiang Rai, showing the black streaks in the scales of the white bands, and the enlarged vertebral scales (at right).

Bungarus fasciatus, the Banded Krait. Large snake, maximal length 230 cm. Upper side black and yellow banded, the black bands about as broad as the yellow bands and continuing on the ventral side (B, D). Vertebral scales much enlarged. Tail short and stump. Body triangular-shaped in cross section. Widespread and quite common throughout the region, often associated with forest streams and undulated paddies where it hunts on other snakes. A. Adult from Mae Rim District, Chiang Mai. B. Belly side of adult (C, D) from Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai. E. Head of specimen in picture A. F. Adult from Tha Song Yang District, Tak.

Bungarus cf multicinctus wanghaotingi, the Multi-banded Krait.

Calliophis muculiceps, the Small-spotted Coral Snake (pictures above). This is a small-sized snake attaining a length of no more than 50 cm. The upper side is reddish-brown with widely-spaced black dots, the belly is orange-red (A). There is a black nuchal collar and the snout is black. Two large black blotches are on the upper side of the tail that ends into a spine (C), whereas the under side of the tail is white with black blotches (D). It is widespread in northern Thailand, and probably also common, but it is not often spotted due to its small size and secretive habits (hunting for blind snakes in decayed wood and in the soil. A. A specimen from Ko Chang District, Trat. Thanks to Stan Klaassens for sending me this picture !! B. Head and neck of an individual fro Tak’s Tha Song Yang District. C. Upperside of the tail of a specimen from Chiang Rai’s Wiang Kaen District. D. Underside of tail, same specimen as in B.

Naja kaouthia, the Monocellate Cobra, a black or dark grey snake that can reach a length of 2 m. Juveniles usually have a dozen of narrow, widely spaced pale crossbands on the posterior part of the dorsum (figures C and D). The extended hood shows a distinct white ‘monocle’ with a black center (figure D), but this mark is often very vague or absent (B-C). The belly is silver-grey, only anteriorly it is cream with a vague greyish band 5-6 ventral shields wide. On the belly side of the extended hood usually a pair of distinct black ‘eyes’ surrounded by cream are shown. In adults the narrow crossbars are no more or hardly distinct. This snake rarely or never spits its venom. It is widespread in the northern region. In the Upper North it usually lives in mountain forests at elevations above 600 m. In the Lower North it also occurs at lower elevations as it does in Central, Northeast and South Thailand.
A. Juvenile from Tha Song Yang District, Tak. B. Adult from Mae Wong National Park, Pang Sila Thong District, Kamphaeng Phet. C. Subadult from Doi Inthanon, Mae Wang District, Chiang Mai. D. Juvenile from Mae Ramat District, Tak.

Naja siamensis, the Siamese Spitting Cobra. This cobra can reach a length of 130 cm. It is quite common in the valleys and low hills throughout the northern region. The upper side of this cobra is usually  light brown or buff, often with very  vague lighter cross bands. On the extended hood a spectacles-shaped mark often inconspicuous or absent (B, E). The belly cream with one or more grayish bands on the anterior part. A-B. Subadult from Mueang District, Lampang. C. Subadult from Mae Ramat District, Sukhothai. D-E: Adult from Sawankhalok District, Sukhothai.

Ophiophagus hannah, the King Cobra. This snake can reach a length of more than 5 m. The 50-80 cm long juveniles are black with cream cross bands (A and G). In subadults the cross bands fade away, in particular anteriorly and the ground color is usually getting lighter (brown) (E). Large adults are usually grayish-brown with a vague banding, but can also be completely black without any remaining banding. The belly is usually silver-grey (F). The species has a very characteristic head scalation with two large postparietal shields (B). When it raises the anterior part of its body, it spreads a hood which is not as wide as in cobras (C). A. Juvenile from Phop Phra District, Tak. B. Head and neck of pale-brown subadult in Bangkok’s Snake Farm (Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute) showing the characteristic head scalation with two large postparietal shields (with red asterix). C. Bill board in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim District advertising the show with the King Cobra. D. Karen boys show the road-killed subadult King Cobra they had found, Khun Yuam District, Mae Hong Son. E. A subadult from Loei’s Na Haeo District (Northeast Thailand). F. View of belly of the same specimen in D. G. Juvenile from Phop Phra District, Tak.

Sinomicrurus macclellandii, the Mac Clelland’s Coral Snake. A-B. Juvenile from Doi Suthep, Mueang, Chiang Mai. C. Adult from Umphang District, Tak. D. Juvenile from Phop Phra District, Tak. E-F. Juvenile from Umphang District, Tak. G. Tail defense of a juvenile from Doi Suthep.