Do you want to learn about the venomous snakes found in Bhutan?
If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the MOST COMMON venomous snakes you can expect to see. If I missed any, please leave a COMMENT at the bottom of the page. 🙂
You’ll see that the venomous snakes in Bhutan are very different from each other. They have different sizes, habitats, and even different types of venom. In addition, certain snakes are common to find living around people. For each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!
6 Venomous Snakes that Live in Bhutan:
*If you encounter any of these species, PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB! Venomous snakes are dangerous animals and should be left alone. The more you agitate them, the more likely you could get bitten. DO NOT RELY ON THIS ARTICLE to correctly identify a snake that has recently bitten you, as colors and patterns can vary widely. If you have recently been bitten, GO DIRECTLY to the nearest hospital to get help and to determine if the snake is venomous.*
#1. Indian Cobra
- Naja naja
Also known as Asian Cobra, Binocellate Cobra, Spectacled Cobra.
- Adults are 1-1.5 m (3.2-5 ft) long.
- They are uniformly black on top, while the underside is light gray, tan, or brown. Horizontal black bars decorate the throat.
- A pattern similar to a pair of glasses can be seen on the back of the neck, in the center of this species’ hood.
From lush forests to wide-open plains, busy cities to farm fields, the venomous Indian Cobra is a terrifying legend of the snake world. It loves hiding in tree hollows, termite mounds, and rat holes. You might even spot one taking a dip in the water to keep cool.
A member of the “Big Four” deadliest snake species in Bhutan, the Indian Cobra’s venom is no joke.
Within minutes or hours, the victim starts to experience symptoms leading to muscle paralysis, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest. Antivenom is vital within the first 30 minutes, so get treatment as soon as possible if you’re bitten!
In Asia’s ancient myths, Indian Cobras are revered and feared, representing power and illusion. While the practice is not allowed in modern times, snake charmers used to wow the crowd with the tunes of a flute guiding Indian Cobras to strike their fiercest poses.
#2. King Cobra
- Ophiophagus hannah
- Adults are 3-3.6 m (10-12 ft) long, but the largest specimens can grow up to 5.4 m (18 ft).
- Their coloring is olive green with black and white bands on the body.
- They have a prominent hood that opens in a defensive stance and a rounded nose.
The King Cobra is the longest venomous snake in Bhutan.
Despite its size, this species is not considered particularly aggressive. It usually avoids humans and slinks off when disturbed. However, it is known to defend incubating eggs aggressively and strikes intruders rapidly. A single attack can deliver multiple bites.
Interestingly, the venom of hatchlings is as potent as the adults’. The babies are brightly marked, but these colors often fade as they mature. In addition, they are often nervous and alert, which makes them highly aggressive if disturbed.
Whether you encounter a juvenile or an adult, giving this dangerous snake a lot of space is recommended. Its bite results in excruciating pain, blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue, and even paralysis. If the bite victim doesn’t receive medical help, they can die from cardiovascular and respiratory failure within 30 minutes of the bite. Stay back!
#3. Common Krait
- Bungarus caeruleus
Also known as Bengal Krait, Indian Krait.
- Adults can reach 90-175 cm (35-69 in).
- Their colors range from black to red, striped with thin white cross bars along the body. The undersides are usually white.
- The body is smooth and shiny. Their tails are short with prominent white bands.
The Indian subcontinent is teeming with wildlife, and among its most dangerous inhabitants is the Common Krait. This venomous snake belongs to the notorious “Big Four” species responsible for the most snake bites in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.
Common Kraits have a diverse diet. They feed on rodents, lizards, frogs, and other snakes—even their own kind! You’ll find them in farms and scrub jungles, sometimes even making their way to human settlements. Contrary to urban tales, Common Kraits don’t sneak into bedrooms to suffocate snoozing humans—in fact, they help control rat populations.
With that said, keep your eyes peeled and your senses sharp in Bhutan. The Common Krait’s venom is packed with neurotoxins that can cause muscle paralysis and respiratory failure. The scary part is that bites initially cause little pain, lulling victims into a false sense of security, then claiming lives four to eight hours later. Remember, timely administration of antivenom can save lives!
#4. Monocellate Cobra
- Naja kaouthia
Also known as Indian Spitting Cobra, Monocled Cobra.
- Adults measure around 135-150 cm (53-59 in) but can reach up to a whopping 229 cm (90 in).
- Young ones have more consistent colors, but adults can have yellow, brown, gray, or black-colored backs with or without cross bands.
- It displays an O-shaped pattern on the back of its flared hood.
The Monocellate Cobra is a dangerous snake in Bhutan you might encounter in rainforests and agricultural lands, living close to human-populated areas. Be careful! When it feels threatened, it raises its head and flares its hood, revealing the eye-catching monocle marking on the back to warn potential foes.
Monocellate Cobra Range Map
Regarding diet, mammals, birds, frogs, and fellow snakes are on the menu for the Monocellate Cobra. With specialized fangs, it delivers neurotoxic venom that can immobilize both its prey and unlucky humans who get bitten.
Thankfully, the Monocellate Cobra is generally docile and prefers to slither away when confronted. However, it can turn aggressive when cornered, and its bite can cause severe pain, convulsions, respiratory failure, and death if left untreated. Steer clear!
#5. Banded Krait
- Bungarus fasciatus
- Adults are about 0.8 m (2.6 ft) long, but the largest recorded was 2.7 m (9 ft).
- Its body is covered in horizontal yellow and black bands. The underparts of the head are yellow.
- The head is black, with a broad shape, but not distinct from the body. Look for its distinctive keeled spine, which gives its body a triangular shape.
The Banded Krait’s venom contains neurotoxins, and though bites are rare, it’s best to avoid this venomous snake in Bhutan.
Banded Kraits can be seen in diverse habitats, ranging from forests to agricultural lands and open countryside plains. They often live near human settlements, especially villages, because of the large supply of rodents and water.
Due to their love of water, they can most commonly be seen during rainy seasons. They are also nocturnal and usually hunt at night, mainly feeding on other snakes but are also known to eat fish, skinks, frogs, and snake eggs.
If harassed, they will hide their heads under their coils and do not generally attempt to bite. But, since they are more active at night, it can be easy to stumble upon one and wind up in danger.
#6. Oriental Whipsnake
- Ahaetulla prasina
- Adults grow up to 1.8 m (6 ft) long.
- This species has a slender body with a long, pointed snout.
- Their coloring varies from light brown to dull yellow-green and fluorescent green. Some individuals have a checkered pattern of light and dark green scales.
Oriental Whipsnakes are mildly venomous, but the toxins are not strong enough to hurt humans in Bhutan. If you see one, observe from a respectful distance, but you don’t need to rush away.
The Oriental Whipsnake is one of the most colorful snakes in Bhutan! Its impressive range of colors makes it difficult to recognize because individuals look so different from one another. However, the slender body and incredibly large, spade-shaped head should help with your identification.
This species is arboreal and usually lives in forest edge habitats such as parklands, rural agricultural areas, and wooded residential areas. It’s also a diurnal snake, so the best place to find one is sunbathing or hunting during the day. They eat small nesting birds, lizards, and tree frogs.
Do you want to learn about other animals in Bhutan?
If so, check out these guides!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Bhutan?
Leave a COMMENT below!