Do you want to learn about the venomous snakes found in Laos?
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 Laos 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!
10 Venomous Snakes that Live in Laos:
*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. 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 Laos.
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!
#2. Malayan Krait
- Bungarus candidus
Also known as Blue Krait, Common Krait, and Javan Krait.
- Adults are 108 cm (43 in) long on average.
- They are easily identified by their striped bodies, ranging in color from dark brown to black or blue. There are yellow or white gaps between these stripes; some are speckled.
- They have small, round eyes and large nostrils.
The Malayan Krait is as colorful as it is deadly. In the hilly landscapes and tropical rainforests of Laos, this venomous snake knows how to blend in with its surroundings. It makes its homes in forests and plantations, often near water.
The venom of the Malayan Krait is not to be taken lightly. In fact, it earned the nickname “Five-step Snake” because victims can take only five steps after being bitten! Although this is not quite true, venom is very dangerous and has a mortality rate of 60-70% if not immediately treated.
The Malayan Krait is a master of the night, preferring to hunt lizards, frogs, mice, small animals, and even fellow snakes when the sun goes down. Although generally slow-moving, it can quickly escape when faced with danger. Be careful not to provoke this snake, as it will strike aggressively and without warning!
#3. Thai Spitting Cobra
- Naja siamensis
Also known as Black and White Spitting Cobra, Indochinese Spitting Cobra, and Siamese Spitting Cobra.
- Adults measure around 90-120 cm (35-47 in) in length. They can occasionally reach up to 160 cm (63 in), but it’s rare.
- This species is slim, different from other cobras in the Naja family.
- Body colors can be gray, brown, or black, with white spots or stripes. Some have so many white markings that their bodies almost look white.
- The mark on their hood can vary: sometimes irregularly shaped, sometimes resembling spectacles, or even missing altogether.
Look for Thai Spitting Cobras in lowlands, hills, plains, and woodlands in Laos.
Sometimes, they wander into urban settlements while hunting mice, so stay alert! These snakes also feed on toads and other snakes.
To protect itself from potential attackers, the Thai Spitting Cobra can spit venom from 1 meter (3.3 ft) away, a shorter range than most cobras. Regardless, don’t take that lightly! This cobra accurately aims for the eyes, causing intense pain and temporary blindness.
Thai Spitting Cobra Range Map
By day, Thai Spitting Cobras sluggishly rest in burrows but turn to aggressive hunters at night. If you come across one, back away slowly and leave the area! This species’ venom has neurotoxins and cytotoxins, causing pain, necrosis, paralysis, and even death in unlucky victims. Seek immediate medical help if you get bitten.
#4. White-lipped Pit Viper
- Trimeresurus albolabris
Also known as Green Tree Pit Viper and White-lipped Bamboo Pit Viper.
- Males are 60 cm (24 in) long. They also have light-colored side stripes, which the females lack.
- Females are 81 cm (32 in) long.
- Their coloring is green on the upper body, with lighter shades of yellow, light green, or white on the belly and sides of the head.
The White-lipped Pit Viper is a dangerous venomous snake in Laos.
Their preferred habitat is shrublands, agricultural areas, forests, and suburban gardens. These vipers are ambush predators that wait for small mammals, birds, and frogs to come by. When a meal gets close, they attack, injecting venom until the prey dies.
White-lipped Vipers are solitary and most active at night, which helps them to avoid hunting during high temperatures. They prefer cooler weather because it’s easier to use their heat-sensitive pits. These organs pick up the body heat of animals, but that heat can be hard to distinguish on warmer nights.
The White-lipped Pit Viper has hemotoxic venom, which can cause various symptoms. Some people report only mild irritation, but this snake’s bite can cause pain, blood clots, and death if left untreated.
#5. Many-banded Krait
- Bungarus multicinctus
Also known as the Chinese Krait or the Taiwanese Krait.
- Adults are 1-1.5 m (3-5 ft) long. The record length is 1.85 m (6.1 ft).
- Its body is slim and slightly compressed on the sides, with the spine visible on top.
- Their coloring is dark bluish-black with white cross bands along the back.
Look for the Many-banded Krait in shrublands, agricultural fields, woodlands, suburban areas, and villages. It often makes its home inside abandoned buildings. This species prefers to stay close to water, so pay close attention to rice paddies, ditches, and riverbanks.
It’s best to keep your distance from this dangerous snake in Laos.
Many-banded Kraits have strong jaws and can twist sharply, landing a bite even when held behind the head. It can take up to an hour to show symptoms of a bite, by which time there can be lethal consequences. So if you see one in the wild, it should be left alone.
#6. Chinese Cobra
- Naja atra
Also known as Taiwan Cobra.
- Adults are 1.2-1.5 m (4-5 ft) long.
- Their coloring is iridescent black overall, with several white or yellow lines on the body and a white throat.
- They have the prominent fanned hood typical of a cobra species.
The Chinese Cobra is one of the most venomous snakes in Laos.
Its typical habitat is shrublands and mangroves. However, it’s highly adaptable to a wide range of terrain, including grassland plains, open fields, jungle, and even heavily populated regions. The only habitat it avoids is dark forests with a closed canopy.
The Chinese Cobra has a varied diet and hunts both night and day, so you can see this species at any time. Unfortunately, this makes it even more dangerous for people who are caught unaware. Many accidentally stumble upon a Chinese Cobra and are bitten before they notice the snake.
This species’ highly venomous bite contains cardiotoxins, which damage the heart and muscles, and neurotoxins, which damage the brain and nerves. This combination causes life-threatening symptoms, including necrosis, chest pain, fever, lockjaw, and difficulty breathing. Fortunately, antivenom is widely available, so seek immediate treatment if you’re bitten.
#7. Golden Tree Snake
- Chrysopelea ornata
- Adults are 115-130 cm (45-51 in) long.
- Their coloring is green, with black cross-hatching and yellow, red, or gold accents.
- They have slender bodies and flat heads with defined necks.
Golden Tree Snakes hunt for bats, lizards, and small rodents during the day. This species is an arboreal snake that lives mostly on tree branches. It has great gliding ability and is an excellent climber, easily moving from tree to tree.
It is mildly venomous and uses its venom to subdue its fast-moving prey. The snake stalks after the prey once it’s delivered a bite and seizes it by the neck, which is crushed in its strong jaws. Because their venom is mild, a bite from this species can be irritating and painful to humans but is not life-threatening.
Golden Tree Snakes have become increasingly available in the exotic pet trade in recent years. Unfortunately, many imported specimens have heavy parasite loads, and the stress of captivity often leads to untimely death. It’s much better to observe this species in the wild since it does poorly in captivity.
#8. 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 Laos. 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 Laos! 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.
#9. Kramer’s Pit Viper
- Trimeresurus macrops
Also known as the Large-eyed Pit Viper and Green Pit Viper.
- Adults are 50-71 cm (20-28 in) long.
- Their coloring is bright green, with a red line running over the tail. Their eyes are yellow or light brown and relatively large.
- Males have a lighter green or blue line underneath their eyes, extending toward the neck.
The venom of this species has hemotoxic properties, but it’s too mild to be dangerous to humans. However, bite victims may experience localized swelling and pain that usually disappears within a few days.
Kramer’s Pit Vipers are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time in trees. They prefer humid forests, particularly bamboo forests, often close to a water supply.
This viper is an ambush predator and usually hunts during the twilight and evening hours. It eats lizards, small birds, and rodents like mice. During the day, Kramer’s Pit Vipers rest among leaves where they are camouflaged thanks to their green color.
#10. Malayan Pit Viper
- Calloselasma rhodostoma
Also known as the Malayan Ground Snake, Malayan Moccasin, and Malayan Ground Pit Viper.
- Adults are 76-91 cm (30-36 in) long.
- Their coloring is reddish, pale brown, or grayish with a thin dark brown vertebral stripe.
- The scales around the mouth are pink or yellowish.
This venomous snake is known in Laos for being bad-tempered and quick to strike.
Even though deaths are not common, the bite of the Malayan Pit Viper is excruciating, and the venom can cause tissue death around the bite wound. Many victims are left with dysfunctional or amputated limbs. Seek medical treatment immediately!
Malayan Pit Viper venom is useful for medical purposes despite its dangerous effects on the body. For example, Ancrod, an enzyme in this snake’s venom, can treat blood clots and helps prevent heart attack and stroke.
Do you want to learn about other animals in Laos?
If so, check out these guides!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Laos?
Leave a COMMENT below!