Thailand’s Black and White Snakes

One of the biggest problems (and dangers) of herping in Thailand is not knowing which snake you’re looking at. There are many snakes that look close enough to each other and can be misidentified.

The black and white snakes are probably the most difficult to distinguish because when juvenile, they can look quite similar in appearance. White snakes are nearly impossible to identify!

I myself have had a horrible experience where I misidentified a black and white sub-adult blue krait as a juvenile Laotian wolf snake. When I turned around, a friend had it in his hand. Talk about a nightmare!

I had seen dozens and dozens of kraits before that, and still, because of where this black/white snake was found I figured it was a harmless wolf snake. I had never found a blue krait in this spot before, only wolf snakes. It was a real eye-opening experience!

Malayan Krait (Blue Krait) from Southern Thailand. Common, dangerous, deadly, and size is usually about 1 meter long.
Adult Malayan (Blue) Krait from Thailand. These are common across much of the country and have very potent neurotoxic venom. Contact with this krait should be avoided as much as possible. Though they are not known to bite often or to strike out, they are extremely dangerous because of their strong venom. ©Vern Lovic

Black and White Snakes (as adults or juveniles)

  • Butler’s Wolf Snake – Lycodon butleri
  • Dark (Dusky) Wolf Snake – Lepturophis albofuscus
  • Laotian Wolf Snake – Lycodon laoensis
  • Malayan Bridle Snake – Dryocalamus subannulatus (usually brown and white or brown
  • Malayan Krait (Blue Krait) – Bungarus candidus*
  • Malayan (White) Banded Wolf Snake – Lycodon subcinctus
  • Many-banded Krait – Bungarus multicinctus*

Deadly snakes in the list above are marked with an asterisk (*).

A small Laotian wolf snake with black, yellow, and white bands running the length of the body from the neck.
Adult Laotian wolf snake has some yellow whereas the juvenile of the species only has black and white bands running from the neck to the tail. ©Vern Lovic
A small snake found herping Southern Thailand in Krabi called, Dinodon septentrionalis.
A small Lycodon laoensis – Laotian wolf snake. I thought for a long time that this was a different wolf snake because the bands were so well-defined at the tail. Oops! We all make mistakes. ©Vern Lovic
Malayan bridle snake has fewer white/black bands than the Malayan krait and isn't dangerous to man or any animal except very small prey.
Malayan Bridle Snakes (Lycodon subcinctus) look just like Malayan Kraits – and yet, they are not dangerous. ©Vern Lovic
Malayan bridle snake - Dryocalamus subannulatus in banded pattern form from Southern Thailand's Krabi province.
A brown Lycodon capucinus – common wolf snake. White bands or very odd dot patterns are characteristic of this snake. ©Vern Lovic
Unidentified Bridle snake with black and white bands running the length of the snake.
Bridle snake – not sure which. ©Vern Lovic
Black and white bridle snake from southern Thailand south of Bangkok.
Black and white Bridle snake. ©Vern Lovic
White banded Lycodon subcinctus snake from Thailand.
Lycodon subcinctus – non-venomous. Fewer white bands than a krait, but more clearly defined than some other black and white snakes.©Vern Lovic

Black and white snakes are rather easy to notice especially when they are moving because if moving slowly, their body pattern is like a waving checkered flag at the F-1 races. Isn’t it?

If you want to know how to identify snakes by looking at the variables that define them and differentiate them, see our “How To Identify a Snake?” post.

VERY difficult to identify are completely WHITE SNAKES >

Night tours for finding wildlife in Krabi, Thailand.
Click to find out more information about some night nature tours to find snakes, frogs, mammals, insects, and all kinds of wildlife at night.


  1. What kind of snake about 5 ft. Long. With black and yellow stripes running up body

    1. If you mean stripes, a radiated rat snake has black stripes running up the upper half of its body. If you mean bands, a banded krait has bands going around the entire body from neck to tail.

  2. I was outside preparing a load for washing. My washing machine has legs on it so it sits raised above the ground by about 10cm. I turn to my left to grab some detergent. After pouring the detergent, I grabbed for a bottle of bleach. It was at this moment, that the snake mentioned above slithered past me from behind. There wasn’t anything other than my washing machine to hide behind (I had just moved in 3 weeks prior). I figured if it didn’t feel the need to bite me, I wasn’t going to see fit to harm it.

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