We have a Thailand Snakes Facebook page now. We created the page to make it easier for people to join and post photos and videos, articles that related to Thailand snakes. We have 128 members, but a lot of people in the old Thailand Snakes Forum – are not over there yet.
Here is the URL: http://www.facebook.com/ThailandSnakes
Every few days when I either have some free time, or just reach a point in my snake herping addiction where I MUST GO, I romp around the forest in southern Thailand and try to find cool stuff.
This was a perfect Thailand night. The air was cool and there was even a breeze. The air was not thick and wet, and I wore a long-sleeved shirt and military issue cammies, socks, and running shoes – all things I NEVER wear in southern Thailand unless herping and trying not to be eaten by mosquitoes.
It was very dark on this night – and I think that was a reason for my success. It started out with a small snake slithering off the bank and into the water – very fast, and very small – maybe 8 inches long. In another 10 minutes i saw a 2 meter mangrove snake swimming across one of the small pools of water.
It was ALMOST within reach with my 40 inch tongs – but I just missed him twice. I grabbed slowly and didn’t want him to know I was grabbing at him. He didn’t pick up speed or alter his course – so I think he had no clue something was grabbing for him behind…
He went to the bank – covered with greenery, and just inched up in there and sat. I ran around the lake on the sidewalk and then very slowly crept down to spot he was. I just watched and waited for movement. Nothing. I waited 10 minutes. Nothing. I started pulling apart the vines and water plants that were hiding him. Very slowly. Nothing. I stayed for 10 minutes and pulled up everything around. Nothing. Apparently he slipped under the water and safely away. They are great underwater swimmers, and he must have known I was after him. Bummer. Still, it’s a great feeling to see a 2 m snake swimming in the pitch black night air.
I walked further… in 5 more minutes I saw another 2 meter mangrove snake climbing a wall and ready to ease itself into the water. I waited until his head went forward, just over the water, and grabbed with the tongs – GOT HIM.
Unfortunately I couldn’t film the snatch, and now I’m desperate for a goPRO video camera I can strap to my head. This DSLR stuff is for the birds while herping by myself. I asked two guys to come, and neither were interested. WTF! Irrational fears…
Anyway – you see a bit of the snake on video.
Later that night I saw about 4 nice leopard gecko type beasts – catching 2 to show friends. They freeze when the flashlight is right on them – probably totally blind – and they are easy to grab.
I saw a couple of small owls.
I heard a heavy movement on the hill next to the water. I stopped and listened… it was HEAVY, breaking big twigs loudly. WTF? It had to see me – and yet, it was moving to me, not away.
Initially I thought – big monitor. But I heard no footsteps.
Then I guessed – big reticulated python or Burmese python. Maybe it was looking at me as a meal, or maybe didn’t see me – just saw the flashlight.
There are bears in Thailand – but probably not right there where I was. There are some wild cats – but I don’t think it would be stalking me.
If you’re going to come herping in Thailand and you’re wondering what months not to come, I can tell you.
November – March.
By November the whole country starts cooling off. While the snakes don’t go into total hibernation for the most part, they do get awful sluggish and some don’t move for months.
If you’re paying for someone to take you herping in Thailand you are better off coming during the May – September timeframe. Even October is usually quite a bit better than November. Keep in mind that if the cool weather comes early (80’s F) the snakes will get harder to find – and sometimes impossible!
Usually I don’t go hunting for snakes in November to March – there is just no point in it. This year a number of people have been in contact with me to go herping with them, and we did spend hours in the field looking. Picture walking for hours and hours from 7pm to 10-12 midnight – prime time for snakes – and finding nothing. These spots were the most productive that I know during other months. During these months – we found scorpions, geckos, millipedes, spiders, monitors, and tree marsupials.
I’ll be doing little herping after December 10th – as that’s when the last batch of guys is coming to give it a shot. Hopefully I’ll have something to show you soon!
It’s official, Thailand herping in November is damn near dead. There was some success at the beginning of the month with some guys from UK and Germany, and a guy from the USA. From about the 15th on – herping has been real rough. We’ve been out for about 15 hours over 2 nights and one day – in prime spots and found nothing to speak of. Sure we found scorpions, giant spiders, some cool geckos, and papaya sucking moths and bats, but, snakes? Skunked.
If it wasn’t for a German woman coming to tell us she just saw a wolf snake in her bungalow, in the ceiling, we’d have been completely skunked!
When I’m not herping I see more snakes. I caught a copperheaded racer and a blind snake during the last 3 days. Big whoop – right?
It’s been a tough week. It’s been so tough that these guys from the USA are going to go out on a longtail boat and catch mangrove snakes tomorrow morning. I’ll go for the ride and to shoot some video. The snake master down here – says 100% you WILL see mangrove snakes during this trip.
We’ll see! I’m not holding my breath man, it’s been a helluva week!
A lot of snake enthusiasts would like to go snake herping – or looking for snakes, but they’re not really sure what it’s all about. Here I’ll explain.
You book a number of days from someone offering herping trips (us). When you arrive we’ll meet you at your hotel and go from there for day 1. Day 1 might consist of a 30km ride out to a place we have found snakes in the past. A lot depends on the Thailand weather. Snakes love to come out during and after a rain. Reason is – the frogs and other wildlife are more abundant then. If it rains straight for 2-3 days, you won’t find many snakes out in that. But, if the weather turns sunny after a couple days of rain – bam, they’re out.
You can target certain snakes or snake family and we will create a custom itinerary for you based on the number of days you’re staying for.
Herping can be done in two primary ways:
Walking through the forest, along streams, up mountains, etc.
Driving around at night to find snakes crossing the road. It sounds almost ridiculous, but after a rain this is an especially productive technique if you’re in the right area.
Usually you’ll be walking and on your feet for a couple of hours at a time. There are always places we can stop and rest if you feel the need – the herping excursion goes according to what you need.
During the field herping you may be able to take photos right there where you find the snake, or, you might choose to bag it up and take it to another location for photos. The snake is then released in it’s natural environment. We don’t keep snakes. We cannot allow you to keep them either.
When you hire a guide to take you herping in Thailand, in our case anyway, we are not there to put on a show for you – you are the focus. The trip is focused on your experience. On occasion we might pick up a snake for you – but, it’s really all about you! We can tell you where to look and tell you some things about the snakes you find, of course.
Herping, even in Thailand, is a little bit like fishing in Florida. There are many varieties of snake out there. They are in some hard to reach places. If you want to make the effort to find them – chances are you will find some. If not, if you don’t turn over every snakey rock or board, you may not find enough snakes to make you happy. On occasion the weather is wrong and we will only find a couple of snakes. Sometimes, for no reason we can understand – we don’t find many snakes.
We hope that isn’t the case, of course, and we try every time we go out herping in the field to find snakes!
If you have any questions about setting up a herping trip in Thailand while you’re here – zap us an email at: email@example.com.
Our Thai guide took us to a place that looked snakey from the start. I’d never been in this particular part of the forest, but he said he goes there to find cobras.
Our first find was after an hour of looking – one of the guys paying for the trip, Barry, found a really nice specimen of Red-Necked Keelback. These snakes are common in Thailand, but every time I see one I just love the things. This one was defensive and flared up like a cobra and showed us all the amazing colors… red, green, yellow – these are rainbow colored snakes. They are harmful only if it bites and hangs on. This one was a biter, and our Thai guide got tagged quickly. We didn’t see any break in the skin, and the snake let go as fast as it struck. We guess no envenomation – he didn’t experience any symptoms as the day wore on.
Our second found snake of the day was a small monocled cobra – Naja kaouthia, and it was a lovely black color. These snakes – at least in this locale – are at their most beautiful when they’re completely black. As they get older they turn a brownish color that isn’t all that cool.
We took it further up the path where the herpers from Australia could get good photos. It was a really stunning snake. I didn’t bring my camera because I like to focus more on the people and what they’re doing. There’s a lot of ways someone could do something stupid while herping. I can get photos anytime. Now, if we found a king cobra – that would be different… as you don’t see those in the wild on a daily or maybe even yearly basis.
After almost three hours we called it quits. There were numerous frogs and small lizards we saw on the trip. Those are always a bonus. Nobody was much interested in them – everyone had snake on the brain.
Over the last 3 days I’ve enjoyed a bit of time away from the home office to go with two great snake enthusiasts from the UK. They came over for a few days before heading south to Malaysia’s Lankawai Island.
We had some hours of cruising country roads looking for snakes crossing. At a nearby nature habitat we found a number of snakes including the Painted Bronzeback, Paradise Tree Snake, a White Lipped Viper, and a 2 meter long Mangrove Snake we literally had to pull out of the tree with the snake tongs after Tom climbed some 20 feet into the tree to reach him.
Not sure if you know or not, but we do have a video channel at YouTube that you might want to have a look at:
I’ve been considering this for a number of months now. I am possibly going to start offering field herping here in Thailand to visitors that want to experience that amazing side of Thailand that I’ve come to know – finding all sorts of snakes and other reptiles – lizards, monitors, as well as scorpions, spiders – or whatever you happen to be into.
Thailand is a herping paradise. There are many places to look for snakes that I know of, and we can also stop off at the snake guy’s place and let you interact with some of the cobras (monocled and king), pythons, Malayan Pit Vipers, Rat Snakes, or whatever they happen to have. I also may be keeping some snakes at the time so you’d have access to those as well.
If you are planning a trip to Thailand to do some herping and, instead of flying blind you’d like me to show you some spots you’ll have the highest probability of success – you should send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back with you right away.
Look for more in the coming weeks as I narrow down what exactly to offer snake enthusiasts and herpetologists on these Thailand herping trips.