Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Black-headed cat snake

Boiga nigriceps

(Albert Charles Lewis Günther, 1863)

In Thai: งูต้องไฟ, ngu tong fai

Boiga nigriceps (black-headed cat snake) is a species of colubrid snake from South-East Asia. They are large snakes; adults may attain a total length of 1.75 m.


It gets its name from the greenish to blackish coloration of its head. Neonates and juveniles do not exhibit this dark color on the head until adulthood. The body color ranges greatly from brown, orange, red, and even black. The ventral region of the snake is yellowish below the neck and white for the rest.


Two subspecies are recognized:

  • Boiga nigriceps nigriceps (Günther, 1863)
  • Boiga nigriceps brevicauda Smith, 1926


Indonesia, Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand.


The black-headed cat snake is arboreal, but frequently comes down to the ground in search of prey. They occupy lowland and mid-elevation tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia.


Little is known about the black-headed cat snake's venom toxicity on humans, but it is thought to be comparable to the severity of a copperhead. This rear fanged colubrid's bite rarely results in adverse effects due to its poor venom delivery system. Luckily their fangs' positioning doesn't result in any significant envenomation.

Symptoms tend to stay localized to the envenomation site, limiting the victim to minor pain.


The black-headed cat snake feeds on lizards, frogs, birds, small mammals and other snakes in the wild.

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Scientific classification

Boiga nigriceps

Common names

  • German: Schwarzköpfige Nachtbaumnatter
  • English:
    • Black-headed cat snake
    • Red cat snake
  • Thai: งูต้องไฟ, ngu tong fai


  • Boiga nigriceps brevicauda, Malcolm Arthur Smith, 1926

    Range: Indonesia (Siberut, Sipora)

  • Boiga nigriceps nigriceps, Albert Charles Lewis Günther, 1863

    Range: Thailand, China (Guangxi), Indonesia, Malaysia


  • Boiga nigriceps brevicaudata, Nikolai L. Orlov & Sergei A. Ryabov (2002)
  • Boiga nigriceps, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Boiga nigriceps, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Boiga nigriceps, Michael Wilmer Forbes Tweedie (1950)
  • Boiga nigriceps brevicauda, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1926)
  • Dipsadomorphus nigriceps, Franz Werner (1913)
  • Boiga nigriceps, Thomas Barbour (1912)
  • Dipsadomorphus nigriceps, George Albert Boulenger (1896)
  • Dipsas hoffmanseggii, Wilhelm Karl Hartwich Peters (1867)
  • Dipsas nigriceps, Albert Charles Lewis Günther (1863)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)


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Boiga nigriceps
Boiga nigriceps
Boiga nigriceps
Boiga nigriceps
Boiga nigriceps (young)
Boiga nigriceps range

Range Map

Distribution map of Black-headed cat snake, Boiga nigriceps in Thailand
  • Bang Lang National Park
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Khao Banthat Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Chong
  • Khao Laem National Park
  • Khao Luang National Park
  • Khao Nam Khang National Park
  • Khao Pu - Khao Ya National Park
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Khlong Bang Yai Forest Park
  • Khlong Yan Wildlife Sanctuary (n/w)
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Phang Nga District, Phang Nga
  • Ngao Waterfall National Park
  • Pa Bon District, Phatthalung
  • Sa Nang Manora Forest Park
  • Tha Sala District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Yong Waterfall National Park
Range map of Boiga nigriceps in Thailand