Banded Krait

Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus)

These are yellow and black kraits here in Thailand. In some other part of the world (Borneo) they are black and white. There are also Blue Kraits aka “Malayan Kraits” which are black and white. And the really incredible looking Red-headed Krait which looks nothing like either of them.

[Last updated: 14 July 2023]

Banded Krait Snake at Bangkok, Thailand Snake Farm
Yellow Banded Krait. Highly venomous, deadly, and relatively common in Thailand. There is a white and black krait also called the Blue Krait. Above is at the Red Cross Snake Farm in Bangkok. ©Vern Lovic

Bungarus Fasciatus (Banded Krait)

A large Bungarus fasciatus (banded krait) from Southeast Asia.
Yellow and black Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus) venomous and deadly. © Tom Charlton.

Thais say: (ngoo sam lee-um, or ngoo kan plong) This is a bit confusing in Thailand where in southern Thailand any viper is known as Ngoo sam lee-um. Lee-um means triangle, and so some people confuse the triangle-shaped heads of the vipers with the triangle cross-sections of the kraits.

Length: average 1.5 m up to 2 m (about 6.5 feet) In Thailand they don’t usually reach a full 2 meters, but I have seen one that was just over 2m.

Range: All over Thailand and most of Asia. Never found in Krabi province, oddly enough.

Notes: Banded kraits are secretive, meaning they are mobile at night and prefer grass or other greenery to hide them. I have seen a few dead on the roads – but I don’t go digging up ratholes or termite mounds. I may start if I don’t find one soon.

I’ve been looking for three years to find a krait with yellow and black bands like these.

At dinner last night I was looking around a small restaurant with many ponds, for snakes. I asked the owner’s son if they had seen any. He said, Ngoo Sam lee-um. That could be the one. I’ll get their permission for some late-night herping and try to bag one.

I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. This restaurant is located on a small hill close to sea level in southern Thailand. There are many frogs at the ponds, and probably many snakes too.

Update 2021- I’ve been to that restaurant numerous times and have not had a call from them about this krait. I am not sure they have been found in Krabi. I have never found roadkill B. fasciatus here in Krabi.

I have found a large 2-meter banded krait dead on the road banded krait in Surat Thani on the main highway leading to Krabi.

Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus) Curled Up In A Barrel
Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus) Curled Up In A Barrel

Habitat: This Thailand krait lives on the ground and in rat holes and termite mounds, under stumps or rocks and in other cool, damp places. Recently I saw photos of one in some limestone rocks here in Thailand. They prefer wide-open areas near water.

Rice fields and mangrove areas are the best places to start looking for them at night.

They have been found as high as 1,524 meters in Malaysia and about 2,300 meters in Thailand.

Active Time? The snake is mostly nocturnal and is quite active at night. Most bites occur at night, as the kraits move close to people sleeping – usually on the floor, and probably the person moves and the krait bites. More dangerous at night, during the day they are not biters. These kraits are common in the northeast Thailand provinces.

Recently a six-year-old boy was bitten and could not be revived. The snake had come up into their home in Surin to escape some flooding.

Food: Other snakes almost exclusively – rat and cat (Boiga) snakes. In captivity, I have seen them eat the following live snakes: Calloselasma rhodostoma, Chrysopelea ornata, and Gonyosoma oxycephalum. One noted herpetologist states that these kraits don’t like to eat water snakes.

Will also eat rats, mice, frogs, lizards if snakes cannot be found.

Defensive Behavior: The banded krait is slow acting during the day, lethargic, and usually not interested in striking. However, it can protect itself quite well – it is a strong biter and has been recorded as killing a large type of cattle 60 minutes after a bite.

Banded Krait skull showing fangs, jaw, and other dentition.

Banded Krait skull showing fangs, jaw, and other dentition. Skull located at Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand. ©Vern Lovic.

Venom Toxicity: Very toxic. Deadly. This yellow/black banded krait from Thailand appears to have venom that is very toxic to humans. The typical LD-50 studies to assess the toxicity of venom in mice, rate this as a very toxic venom as well.

These snakes rarely bite during the day, but if they do, they can transfer enough venom to kill you. I read about a person dying in 30 minutes, and another dying in 15 hours.

A famous American herpetologist, Joe Slowinski, was killed by a baby krait (Bungarus multicinctus) in Burma while on a remote expedition. He finally succumbed after 30 hours. They can be quite deadly.

The cause of death is that your muscles are paralyzed and your diaphragm can’t work any longer to pull oxygen into your lungs.

Kraits are very deadly in this regard. However, if you are able to get to a hospital with a ventilator you will likely be OK. There is no specific antivenin for snake bites from this snake, but polyvalent venom is used – which can also treat bites from Naja kaouthia and Ophiophagus hannah.

Interesting to note… when fed on a live garter snake the krait venom acts instantly to cause death. Apparently, krait venom is very efficient with snakes – the krait’s primary diet.

Handling: The banded and Malayan blue kraits are not known to bite during the daytime. However, at night time they bite rather easily, as evidenced by the numerous krait bites that occur at night to people usually laying down to sleep on the floor either outdoors or in their homes with the door open.

I would never handhold kraits like the man is doing in the photo above. The krait venom is so toxic, it’s just not worth the risk – however small. Their venom is stronger than that of monocled cobras.

Antivenin:  Polyvalent. It is advised by experts to get antivenin in your bloodstream for krait bites before you have symptoms because once symptoms develop you may have lost nerve functioning that will likely not return.

Offspring: Mating in March-April and 4-14 eggs laid about 60 days afterward. The mother krait remains with the eggs for another 60 days before they hatch. Baby kraits are about 30cm long at birth and have venom.

I couldn’t find in the literature whether the mother left the eggs as they started hatching – so she didn’t eat them herself or not. The King Cobra does this instinctively because it also eats other snakes.

Update: I was contacted by a man who was bitten by this same type of krait during the night (midnight) at an impromptu show at a bar in Bangkok. The snake handler let him hold it and it bit his arm deeply. He was lucky to live and had lingering effects for more than five years after the bite!

Banded Krait Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: B. fasciatus

Binomial name
Bungarus fasciatus
Classified by Schneider in year 1801

Photo of Two Adult Banded Kraits:

2 Banded Kraits - Bungarus fasciatus from southern Thailand, Nakhon si Thammarat province.
Quite deadly, but shy snakes – see the video below. ©

Video of Jackie with Banded Krait from Nakhon Si Thammarat, Southern Thailand:

Two Step Snake - IT BITES, You Die? 🇹🇭Thailand Living
Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses from Southeast Asia.
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Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses!

More than 34 stories of venomous snakebites and very near misses from Southeast Asia’s most deadly snakes – King Cobra, Malayan Pit Viper, Monocled Cobra, Banded Krait, Malayan Krait, and more! Digital Book with over 100 pages by Vern Lovic.

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  1. I just found a baby banded kraits outside my apartment near my door. I think he’s sleeping with frogs kinda playing on him. Anyway, Im at Phiboon Mangsahan Northeast Thailand working as a Math Teacher. Creepy, as Im afraid of any kind of snakes. ????????????

  2. Just recently moved here permanently. Saw one of these this morning dead on the road close to Ban Muang Sakon Nakhon Province. Length about 75 cm. Wasn’t sure what it was due to the coloring, so I stopped to check.

    Thanks for posting all the pictures and vitals. Will keep watching for more reptiles now that I am here full time

    1. Hi John, Thanks for your note. 2.75 meters is massive for this snake, that would be a world record I think. Are you sure it wasn’t something else? Cheers!

  3. Hi, Vern.

    Last night I was playing with my computer in my room and heard my sister freakout yelling “a snake…! It’s big…in the backyard!”

    I immediately heading to the door where my sister saw the snake. I was hoping it’s just another baby Red-necked keelback which is often appears there. I was freakout too after seeing it was a BIG black and white (malayan krait) snake between my sandals in front of the doorstep. The size was around 1.3-1.5m with the diametre bigger than a broom stick.
    I knew how dangerous it is!

    What makes me panic is that, I have 3 dogs in my backyard. Luckily the smallest one was currently inside, but the other two was outside. I’m afraid if they sees the snake they will try to touch it or playing with it (this happened with the red-necked keelback snake before).

    I opened the door and let those 2 dogs inside, and my father came from a small room behind the backyard with a net stick that often uses to catch a fish from an aquarium ( I don’t know what the name is)

    The krait is fast even though I knew it wasn’t aggresive. It’s slippy and jumped outside the net after it’s caught inside the net.
    Then my mother brought a broom stick and hit it a couple times while my father held it with the net.
    The krait fainted, finally easier to get it inside the net, we feel pity for the snake but we had no choice if one of us is bitten by it.
    Then we threw it away in an empty lot 10m of our house.

    I was clueless how did such a big krait appeared again in our house.
    The first time was 4 years ago, it’s smaller than this one. It appeared under the tv table in the living room while we there.
    We had no idea how dangerous it was at that time. Luckily we can caught it without injuring it and threw it away at the same place.

    Actually in our backyard is full of stuffs, my father tends to keep every stuff there. We got so many rats lately, but they running around in the cable under the roof or somehow in the floor eating the leftover dog’s foods. I often saw a lizard and somehow quite big too. When it rains, a bunch of frogs appears. I was curious how did they suddenly disappearing in a recent week, did they eaten by a snake? Which kind of snake ate all the frogs here? So last night was the answer

    We’ve already seal the entry points last year.
    There were a little hole in the wall that heading directly to an empty lot behind our house. It’s a small farm but so many plantation. We didn’t realize the hole there cause it’s blocked by a big grass.

    Can you help us how to prevent these snakes come into our house again? The only access is now from the front gate and a small hole (around 15cm diameter) to dispose all the water from the backyard. It flows directly to the sewer beside the empty lot.

    For the red necked keelback snake, usually they are small but I’ve seen the big one like this krait but we loosing it.
    Damn we got a scary backyard, a snake appears here around 6 times a year. Luckily our dogs always safe and sound!


    1. Hi Julian, wow, great comment. Thanks for the update on what’s going on there. I have a book – KEEP SNAKES OUT! on amazon. You can look it up. I think it’s print and e-book. Choose one.

      Kraits are very dangerous, but they are not very fast or interested in biting. If your dog grabbed it, I think your dog will kill it and the dog won’t even be bitten. I’m about 95% sure. Of course, the 5% is what sucks.

      DO be careful! Red-necked keelbacks too – easier to handle, but they have a very strong venom that can put you in the hospital with failing kidneys.

      Cheers and best of luck!


    2. Hye julian.. where are your location? Im looking for this krait for my research. Regard, Jo-Malaysia

  4. Hye vern.. m looking for this krait in Malaysia. Do u have any idea where I could find it?

  5. I’ve had three juveniles wander into my home over the last few days. Must be all the rain we are having up here in Phistanulok. Lucky i have Cats and dogs. Beautiful snakes. Even had a 5ft monitor helping himself to a bath in my pond the other day. hehe.

  6. I think I ran over one of these tonight near Nong Khai. It was probably 1.5m+ and pretty thick. It felt like a little speed bump. I didn’t realize what it was until I came here and looked it up. Usually I try to get pics of snakes I see, but it was raining pretty hard so I decided to keep going. I hope the snake is ok. I got him right in the middle of his body. Do you know if snakes can survive being run over, assuming you don’t run over the head?

    1. often times the intestines and other organs are left bulging from the anal opening – so, they die of infection and other things anyway. Broken ribs, shock? I think most snakes cannot survive a hit by a car or motorbike, but I’ve known at least 1 to do so.

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