Tag Archives: thailand snake bite

Homalopsis buccata Almost Rips My Finger Off

OK, exaggerating a bit.

OK, a lot.

There is nothing quite like a bite from a snake, when you’re completely not expecting it. I’ve caught a number of these “Puff Faced Water Snakes” – Homalopsis buccata, and while one bit the tongs, none has ever attempted to strike at me. That changed the other night while on a herping trip with Courtney from North Carolina in the states.

I grabbed it fine the first time, and it death-rolled so fiercely I thought it was going to break it’s own neck. I let it go back on the ground by the pond I’d just picked it up at.

The flashlight was shining right in his face – and I was coming up on the approach from behind, but, in hindsight – a bit too much to the side, and he could still see my hand coming. He twisted and struck backward and sideways to grab my middle finger fiercely. I did the twitch, you know, where you jerk your arm in an exaggerated fashion, twirling the snake around like a circus baton, by the mouth on your finger – putting the teeth MUCH deeper than they were originally? Yeah, I did that.

He was NOT letting go, so I asked Courtney to gently put the snake hook point through the jaw between my finger and the joint. Eventually the top opened enough, and then I snuck the bottom finger out. No re-bite, which I was thankful for.

This was a juvenile, but these snakes have powerful jaws, and 26 teeth (I counted the puncture marks on my finger). I was bleeding good, and Courtney got a few pics. Will put one up when she sends me one.

Though a snake is not “known” to bite… do not take it for granted. Practice the same techniques as always to keep from getting bitten. Twenty-six teeth in your finger is not a good feeling… more importantly, you could break some of them in your finger – harming the snake.

Snake Bite! Thai Man Bitten by Monocled Cobra (Naja)

Thai man bitten by a monocled cobra - Naja kaouthia - in Thailand at a snake show
Closeup of cobra bite site on inner right thigh.

I was visiting my friends at the snake show yesterday. One of them was bitten 5 days ago by a Naja kaouthia during one of the shows. It bit his leg through the pants – and got him with both fangs.

Nobody expects this to be a life-threatening bite because he has been bitten 4 times in total now – by the Naja kaouthia (monocled cobra). Humans build up a resistance to the venom over time, and to see the small wound that he has now – it’s hard to believe one of the most deadly snakes in the world bit him.

I’ll attach a video here of me interviewing Dtom and Jackie about how the bite happened – when I get a faster internet connection – right now it’s junk and not working well for a big upload to YouTube.

Thailand Snake Note – Bitten by Snake?


If you are bitten by a snake in Thailand or anywhere in Southeast Asia, and you don’t KNOW that it is a non-venomous snake:

1. Find someone to help you get to the hospital immediately – don’t wait for symptoms and don’t drive yourself.

Emergency Numbers:

1155 – Tourist Police – English speaking; 191 – Thai police nationwide; 1669 – Ambulance nationwide; 1646 Bangkok ambulance.

If you have some time between when your ride leaves (like waiting for ambulance):

2. Clean wound with water. Be gentle, don’t scrub harshly.
3. Immediately apply a pressure bandage or wrap a piece of cloth around the bite as well as above and below the bite. Elastic wraps that you use for ankle sprains work well. Wrap it snugly, but you should still be able to put a finger under the bandage.
4. Stay as still as possible. Tell someone or write down what you can remember about the snake – color? thickness? pattern? Was it in a tree? On ground? Identifying the snake is very important so you get the right antivenin if one is needed.
5. Antivenin is given after you start to have symptoms, not before. Some bites are “dry bites” and inject no venom.

Caution… anti-venin (also called anti-venom) OFTEN causes severe allergic reaction. This allergic reaction can be deadly in some cases. Get good advice on the necessity of anti-venin before it is administered. The doctors should do a test to see if you’re allergic to it first before full-scale administration of anti-venin. Insist on it.

Do Not:

  • Use a tourniquet
  • Use ice over the wound
  • Drink alcohol, food, or use aspirin – Paracetamol is OK for pain, better if you take nothing before going to the hospital.
  • Use herbal remedies

Sources:

Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, Thai Red Cross Society,
Bangkok, Thailand (662) 252-0161-4; qsmi@redcross.or.th

Some information was collected from various what we think are legitimate sources of emergency information regarding snake bite.

If you want to dispute these steps – please send email to: info@thailandsnakes.com.

Once you identify the snake that bit you – here is some more information by snake name – scientific classification:

AFPMB – Database of Venomous Animals and Plants (click)

Here is the database listing venomous snakes by country:

AFPMB Database of Snakes by Country (click)

Most Likely Venomous To Bite You? Malayan Pit Viper

Brown Malayan Pit Viper in Thailand. These are deadly snakes if you don't get immediate treatment.

The Malayan Pit Viper (Calloselasma rhodostoma) is the venomous (bad) snake that is most likely to bite you. They have the habit of lying in the short or long grass and just waiting for prey to walk by. If human footsteps are coming close – it doesn’t attempt to move, it just sits there.

This is why the Malayan Pit Viper is the cause of most of the serious bites in Thailand, and Malaysia. They just don’t get out of the way, or flare up a hood or anything. They are what we call lazy snakes, and they’re quite deadly too. This snake is responsible for more deaths in Thailand than any other.

However, if you make it to the hospital for the anti-venin quickly you will likely be fine. Some herpetologists call the Malayan pit viper the “finger rotters”. Their venom is cytotoxic and destroys all cells of the body – including bone. Their venom dissolves bone… it’s quite harsh stuff and you DON’T want to be bitten by this snake because you’ll likely lose part of whatever what bitten.

These Thailand snakes are most active during the night time, but, they seem to just sleep in the open grass during the day too. BE CAREFUL NOT TO STEP NEAR THIS SNAKE. Their bite is vicious and fangs go deep.

Thailand Snake Note – If Bitten by Snake?

<big>If you are bitten by a snake in Thailand it’s a good idea to immediately wrap an elastic bandage, shirt, whatever you have directly on top of the wound, and if the wrap is long enough – continue to wrap above and below the wound as well.

Get to a hospital. DON’T READ THE REST OF THIS  –  GO NOW.

There are more than 40 species of venomous snake in Thailand. Some are quite deadly. Most, rather harmless. The ones you have to look out for are:

  • King Cobra
  • Monocled Cobra
  • Equatorial Spitting Cobras
  • Indochinese Spitting Cobras
  • Malayan Kraits
  • Malayan Pit Vipers
  • All Pit Vipers
  • Russell’s Viper

I may have forgotten some, but I just wanted to list those that you are most likely to be bitten by – and be in serious trouble. These are the deadly snakes. More than likely you’d be bitten by either of two – the Russell’s Viper and the Malayan Pit Viper, both very common and both quite deadly if not treated immediately.

So, DON’T READ ANOTHER WORD  – GET TO THE HOSPITAL NOW.</big>