Species of Thailand

Mangrove cat snake

Boiga dendrophila, Heinrich Boie, 1827

(In Thai: งูปล้องทอง, ngu plong thong)

Boiga dendrophila, commonly called the mangrove snake or gold-ringed cat snake, is a species of rear-fanged colubrid. It is one of the biggest cat snake species, averaging 6–8 feet (1.8–2.4 m) in length. It is considered mildy-venomous. Although moderate envenomations resulting in intense swelling have been reported, there has never been a confirmed fatality.


Snout longer than eye; rostral more broad than deep, visible from above; internasals as long as or shorter than the prae-frontals; frontal as long as or slightly shorter than its distance from the tip of the snout; loreal as long as deep or more

long; a praeocular extending to the upper surface of the head, not reaching the frontal; two postoculars; temporals 2 + 2

or 2 + 3; eight (nine) upper labials, third to fifth entering the eye; four or five lower labials in contact with the anterior

chin-shields; latter as long as or longer than the posterior; anterior palatine teeth not much larger than the posterior.

Scales in 21 (23) rows, vertebral row enlarged; ventrals 2O9-239; anal entire; subcaudals 89 no. Black above, with yellow transverse bands, continuous or not extending across the back; labials yellow, with black edges. Lower surface black or bluish, uniform or speckled with yellow; throat yellow. Total length 2310 mm.


Mostly nocturnal, it is a potentially aggressive snake. Even captive bred specimens can be nervous and may strike repeatedly. Although many specimens will calm down and allow handling, they are normally easily stressed and may refuse food for extended periods of time if disturbed. (Handling, of course, should involve safety precautions for the handler, due to their nervous nature and the fact that a bite can cause pain and injury.)

Geographic range

Indonesia (Bangka, Belitung, Borneo, Java, Sulawesi, Riau Archipelago, Sumatra), India, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippine Islands (Panay).


Including the nominotypical subspecies, nine subspecies are recognized as being valid.

Nota bene: A trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Boiga.

  • Boiga dendrophila annectens – Indonesia (Kalimantan); Brunei Darussalam; East Malaysia
  • Boiga dendrophila dendrophila – Indonesia (Java); Borneo.
  • Boiga dendrophila divergens – Philippine Islands (Luzon, Polillo)
  • Boiga dendrophila gemmicincta – Indonesia (Sulawesi).
  • Boiga dendrophila latifasciata – Philippine Islands (Mindanao)
  • Boiga dendrophila levitoni – Panay (and probably other islands of the West Visayas region)
  • Boiga dendrophila melanota – S Thailand, West Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia (Sumatra)
  • Boiga dendrophila multicincta – Philippine Islands (Balabac, Palawan)
  • Boiga dendrophila occidentalis – Indonesia (Babi, Batu Archipelago, Nias, Sumatra)

The subspecific name, levitoni, is in honor of American herpetologist Alan E. Leviton (born 1930).


Despite one of its common names, mangrove snake, B. dendrophila is found more often in lowland rainforests than in the mangrove swamps from which its common name is derived.


The mangrove snake feeds on reptiles, birds, and small mammals in the wild.


The venom of mangrove snakes is not considered life-threatening to humans, and they have been kept as pets.

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Scientific classification

Boiga dendrophila

Common names

  • German: Mangroven-Nachtbaumnatter
  • English:
    • Mangrove cat snake
    • Mangrove snake
    • Gold-ringed cat snake
  • Thai:
    • งูปล้องทอง, ngu plong thong
    • งูตามธาร, ngu tam than


  • Boiga dendrophila annectens, George Albert Boulenger, 1896

  • Boiga dendrophila dendrophila, Friedrich Boie, 1827

  • Boiga dendrophila divergens, Edward Harrison Taylor, 1922

  • Boiga dendrophila gemmicincta, André Marie Constant Duméril & Gabriel Bibron, 1854

  • Boiga dendrophila latifasciata, George Albert Boulenger, 1896

  • Boiga dendrophila levitoni, Maren Gaulke, Arnold D. Demegillo & Gernot Vogel, 2005

  • Boiga dendrophila melanota, George Albert Boulenger, 1896

  • Boiga dendrophila multicincta, George Albert Boulenger, 1896

  • Boiga dendrophila occidentalis, Léo Daniël Brongersma, 1934


  • Boiga dendrophila, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2014)
  • Boiga dendrophila gemmicincta, Mark Laita (2013)
  • Boiga dendrophila divergens, Rafe Marion Brown (2013)
  • Boiga dendrophila gemmicincta, Karl Patterson Schmidt (2012)
  • Boiga dendrophila gemmicincta, Thomas Cherico Wanger et al (2011)
  • Boiga dendrophila levitoni, Maren Gaulke (2011)
  • Boiga dendrophila divergens, David S. McLeod (2011)
  • Boiga dendrophila, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Boiga dendrophila gemmicincta, Jelmer Groen (2008)
  • Boiga denrophila sic melanota, Andreas Gumprecht (2005)


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Boiga dendrophila
Boiga dendrophila
Boiga dendrophila
Boiga dendrophila

Range Map

Distribution map of Mangrove cat snake, Boiga dendrophila in Thailand
  • Bang Lang National Park
  • Chai Buri District, Surat Thani
  • Don Sak District, Surat Thani
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Huai Yot District, Trang
  • Kapong District, Phang Nga
  • Khao Chong
  • Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
  • Khao Luang National Park
  • Khao Nam Khang National Park
  • Khao Nan National Park
  • Khao Phanom Bencha National Park
  • Khao Phra - Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Khlong Phanom National Park
  • Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khok Pho District, Pattani
  • Khuan Khanun District, Phatthalung
  • Ko Samui District, Surat Thani
  • Lam Nam Kra Buri National Park
  • Lan Saka District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Phang Nga District, Phang Nga
  • Mueang Phatthalung District, Phatthalung
  • Na Thawi District, Songkhla
  • Ngao Waterfall National Park
  • Phuket Province
  • Rattaphum District, Songkhla
  • Si Sakhon District, Narathiwat
  • Sichon District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Su-ngai Kolok District, Narathiwat
  • Suk Samran District, Ranong
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Thale Ban National Park
  • Thung Wa District, Satun
  • Ton Nga-Chang Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Waeng District, Narathiwat
  • Yan Ta Khao District, Trang
  • Yaring District, Pattani
Range map of Boiga dendrophila in Thailand