When you are in Bali, you do not only need to be careful with Bali’s common law, but also with the animals. Balinese believe that it is prohibited to kill animals that live in sacred places, shrines, caves, and forests, because they believe that those animals are sacred and part of the sacred places.
You will find monkeys, bats, cows, and even snakes that live freely in some places. But, because they are actually wild animals. It could be dangerous if you unintentionally provoked them, especially for snakes. There are many reported accident involving snakes in Bali, like snake biting and even killing.
Bali has 35 species of snakes, but only six of them are dangerous; there are king cobra, spitting cobra, red-tailed green rat snake, Malayan krait, sea snake, and red-necked keelback. All of them are harmful and venomous snakes. You need to know whether you are encountered with a venomous snake or not. Here are the snakes of Bali that are considered as dangerous:
King Cobra has 3 to 4 meters in length and up to 6 kg in weight. Its skin is smooth with olive-green, black, or tan color, and pale yellow or cream color on its belly. King Cobra is famous with its expandable hood that will spread when it is about to attack. The venom is dangerously fatal and often leads to death. When you accidentally meet this snake, runaway is the best option.
Some cobras could spray venom from their fangs when they are defending themselves. It could reach as far as 2 meters away, and if the sprayed venom hits the eye, it can cause permanent blindness.
Red-tailed Racer (Gonyosoma oxycephalum )
Just like its name, this snake has bright green color with a red or brown tail. Red-tailed racer snake likes to climb trees and across branches as it has powerful and smooth scales on its belly. The tail of this snake is grey in spite of its common name.This snake is commonly found in plantation and hidden really well because of its green color. It bites really fast but luckily it's not venomous.
Banded Krait (Bungarus Fasciatus)
This snake has a blunt tail, and is uncommon in Bali, possibly being a recent introduction. In contrast the Blue Krait (Bungarus candidus, also called the Malayan Krait) is arguably the most venomous snake in Bali that one is likely to encounter. (LOCAL SNAKE NAMES ARE NOT USEFUL FOR IDENTIFICATION, AND LEAD TO CONFUSION! The Blue krait is not blue, but has a number of colour forms, making identification difficult - black and white bands of equal width, or all black, or light- or dark brown, or with white irregular patches. There is no antivenom here fore this snake, but it is usually out and about very late at night when most people are asleep. It is not found on beaches, but in the ricefields. And please NEVER RUN AWAY FROM SNAKES! They cannot chase you and only want to get away if they can. This snake is often found in Bali's beach. They are venomous, and the venom is still lethal even after the injection of anti-venom. Malayan Krait or blue krait has dark-brown, bluish-black, or black crossbands color and separated by yellowish-white spaces. Needless to say, you must run away when you see this snake.
Bali is surrounded by the sea and famously known for its beautiful corals and sea creatures. One of them is sea snakes or coral reef snake. If you decided to go diving or snorkeling, and accidentally encounter a sea snake, do not try to touch them. Even though sea snakes are considered as mild-tempered, but when they get provoked, they will use their venom for defense. Then, it will be fatal. The sea snake pictured here is a so-called Banded sea Krait (Laticauda colubrina). Unlike most other sea snakes, it also comes ashore to hide in rocks and cliffs. It is highly venomous, and once more there is no antivenom here for treatment of a bite of this snake.
Island Pit Viper (Trimesurus Insularis)
This is the snake that bites most people and potentially causes a lot of tissue damage and even death is not even mentioned here. A common snake from the coasts to about 1000m, the Island Pit Viper (Trimeresurus insularis) is green, has a rather short, fat body, and a characteristic RED TAIL which distinguishes it from other green snakes here. It comes out after dark, and descends from its hiding place in a tree or wall, and sits on the ground where it may be stepped on.
For more information and photos of snakes in Bali, you can visit "Ron Lilley's Bali Snake Patrol". Ron is an expert on snakes and he also give talks to the public and schools, and give snakeproofing advice. If someone sees a snake and they want to know what it is, please send him a photo to his page, and he should be able to identify it for you. Be aware that snakes do come into houses sometimes, especially in the rainy season. If you are unlucky enough to get bitten by any snake, get medical help as soon as possible! Bites are rare, and fatalities from snakebite are rare too, but it is best to seek medical attention quickly to limit the effects. Check with your nearest doctor/clinic and ask if they can treat snakebite, or can recommend another hospital nearby. Sanglah hospital in Denpasar is quite good at treating snakebite, but do call and ask first!
Ron's advice is for you to STAY AWARE THAT THERE ARE SNAKES AROUND, AND ALWAYS ILLUMINATE THE PATH AHEAD OF YOU AT NIGHT, YOU ARE UNLIKELY TO BE BITTEN!
We would like to thank Ron for his kind contribution in revising this article. You can reach him at his page, Ron Lilley's Bali Snake Patrol or his Whatsapp: (+62) 8013 38496700 if you encounter any snake and would like to know what to do.