Please help identify this snake?

Asked August 20, 2017, 2:24 AM EDT

I am a British man married to a filipina living in Lopez, Quezon, Philippines, this morning our teenage son found this snake outside our toilet door? our house is some yards away from a river and when this snake was found our son managed to kill it, l believe it to be a rat snake but not sure as it has a distinctive orange underbelly with black and white rings? I have tried to find it on the internet to be sure but without success so l now turn to your group of experts in the hope we can be told of its identity? is it venomous to humans as well as animals? We have a lot of animals here including breeding pigs and piglets, dogs and cats, chickens, chicks and ducks too, over several months we have had some loss of cats and young dogs believing them to be poisoned but not sure if they were snake bitten or it was human induced poisons? We have a lot of small lizards that roam around inside the house and may be the reason we are getting a number of snakes so close to us now. This snake is largest of those we have found around the home so far, maybe we are lucky until now? Most were very small, about three or four inches and deemed to be very young but this one is about fourteen to fifteen inches? still young maybe but a worry to us? We would appreciate your help please to be sure that we know if we need to avoid contact with this snake? and if it is wise to have anti-venom on hand in the house? I enclose two photos for you to view and identify, we hope for your help. Our photos are deliberately sent to you not copyright controlled and made available to you or anyone so that they also may be made aware of this snake and take necessary precautions if required. With thanks!

Outside United States possible barred coral snake possible hemibungarus calligaster

5 Responses

Thank you for your question. The photographs are not taken close enough to make out types of scales and patterns on the back or details of the head. I believe this may be a Barred Coral Snake (Hemibungarus calligaster). This species is venomous. It belongs to the family Elapidae, which includes the cobras, coral snakes, kraits and sea snakes.

I have not been able to find too much information on this species. In an excerpt from The Coral Triangle: The 2011 Hearst Philippine Diversity Expedition, conducted by the California Academy of Sciences, the authors provide identification keys and descriptions of the dangerously venomous snakes of the Philippine archipelago. In this report they feature photographs of the venomous snakes that inhabit the Philippines. They provide descriptions of this species which has a pattern of broad black and red rings separated by narrow white rings. However, on the lateral and dorsal portions of the body, the red rings are heavily infused with black pigment, such that you only see the red coloration on the stomach of the snake. There is also a small amount of red on the head of the snake and the tip of the tail. Total length for males is 515 mm and females is 504 mm.

Distribution of this species includes Quezon.

The authors of the excerpt consider this snake to be dangerously venomous. I was not able to find any information regarding symptoms following the bite.

You can download the paper referenced in the expedition report by going to this link:

You may be able to get additional information on this species and a positive identification through one of the natural history museums in the Philippines, like the Univeristy of the Philippines Los Banos Natural History Museum. Here is a link to their website:

Sorry I can't give you a more definite identification. I hope this information helps, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.


Thank you for your reply also for the time and effort put into identifying this snake, l didn't take the photo and apologise for it not being a closer view but our son did not want to take chances, l did research myself and agree that it does look like a banded coral snake, l thought these snakes were more sea creatures than freshwater? I can only assume that after flooding of the river behind our house that the snake found its way up river from the sea when the water level dropped as the sea is not many miles away from us. we will take care when confronted with any venomous snake and again l thank you.

Terry Brandon

Thank you for your comments. You may have misunderstood something in my answer, because it sounds like from your comments that you believe this to be an aquatic species. The barred coral snake is a terrestrial species. Most species of snake can swim, and if you have had flooding in your area, it's quite possible the snake got swept into your area by high water, but this species is normally terrestrial.

Take care,


My thanks for your information! I stand corrected, l took it from the name coral snake that it would be a water species of snake... now l am made aware of it being a terrestrial snake I will at least be able to inform the family so we can all be more aware of it. We do suffer high water a lot from floods when there is heavy rain and recently the level was only centimetres from flooding our yard, this will certainly bring this snake and possibly others too into our yard and home, maybe l should consider placing rubber footing on the bottom of the doors to prevent any entry into the house, l am glad there is a site we can visit and ask questions, it is very helpful and even can be an eye opener, many thanks! keep up the great work you all do!
Terry Brandon

You're welcome. Contact us if you have any further questions.