Here is some general information about snakes in Thailand to put your mind at ease about the danger of venomous snakes in the country.
There is little to be afraid of if you are coming to visit Thailand for a few days, even a month. You are not likely to see any snakes at all unless you are out specifically looking for them. Even then, sometimes when I go looking, I don’t find any snakes after hours of looking. A friend just north of me in Hua Hin told me that he and another two guys just went out for 6 hours the other night and found nothing. That is the way it goes sometimes.
The video below covers the reality of life in Thailand and whether you will see snakes, and what to do when you do see them.
Each area of the country is slightly different, but snakes exist all over Thailand. Just get used to that idea. Most snakes cannot harm you. All snakes prefer NOT to harm you. They just want to be left alone. They’re not social like puppies and kittens.
Watch this video for information about Thailand snakes in general. If you have any questions, just comment or write me an email. Cheers!
In Nakhon si Thammarat there is a zoo – and they’ve just successfully bred a very rare snake – the Thai Gold Python (Python molur bivittatus) – in captivity. There are 30 young pythons that will be distributed across the nation of Thailand.
The article (below) says- “The “gold Thai python” once lived in dry evergreen forests in Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Prachin Buri and Sa Kaew.”
Some are calling this a Burmese Python – unless there is another species that looks very similar.
I’ve never even heard of this phase of the Burmese python snake – apparently, they are quite rare.
There are a LOT of cool snakes in Nakhon Si Thammarat though – at the national park there. If you get a chance – head on over there after seeing Khao Sok – the ultimate wildlife park in Thailand for snakes, any kind of reptile, bird, or animals in the wild.
There are over 200 species of snakes in Thailand – come on a herping trip and see some!
I have a banded krait video (click) up at Youtube and a guy responded with a comment that I didn’t know whether to take seriously or not. Apparently it is true, he was bitten by a banded krait in 1995 while enjoying a night out in a Bangkok bar on Soi Cowboy.
Some of the snake handlers at the cobra shows regularly ask members of the audience if they want to come out and play with the deadly snakes. Sometimes people do. It’s a rather thin line between letting audience members interact with the snake in a dangerous way – and just doing enough so they think they are. In this case, they let this Swedish guy come down onto the floor with the snake. Well, here are his comments. I’ve edited them a bit to make it more understandable. It still might not be perfect, but, best I could do. He said English was his 3rd language. Pretty damn good for 3rd language!
His story below:
I got bitten by a banded krait 1995 in Bangkok, and it was during the night, at a Soi Cowboy bar with a Muay Thai boxing ring as the snake show platform. They had 3 cobras they played with for a while and then brought out the banded krait.
The snakeman invited me to come up on stage (I suppose he didn`t expect me to do it). He took it by the tail and swept it from side to side towards me. As the snake got aggravated and aggressive and attempted to strike, but the distance kept me safe until it pulled itself up and lunged – striking like a whip. It bit me on the arm, while everyone in the bar screamed as it reached from his hand all the way to my arm… pumping, as it seemed to have been doing so for long, as my reaction was to first see it attached to my arm, then I remembered the whip like attack.
In my mind it was so much faster than human awareness could keep up with. Still, as I saw its eyes it made me think, “like a shark, with dead eyes”. I quickly realized that I could die and I grabbed it around the throat and squeezed very hard and ripped it off my arm. The head was angled and mouth still open. I hit it on the head full-force to kill it, and dropped it – yet it remained alive.
I picked a small tooth out of my arm, smaller than a kitten’s tooth. I bled from just one small spot where the tooth was embedded. Yet, it got enough venom in to fully envenomate me.
The effects of a such bite were far worse than I could have imagined, as I ended up in hospital and after a week or so, when I was about to leave the hospital, the doctor told me it would take around 5 years to recover – and it did.
The guy who was bitten has a Youtube account with username – Pasiorha.
Quite a story, right?
I have never seen one of these snakes try to bite… and I wasn’t aware they struck outward from the body like that. I thought they just twist around to bite. Learn something new all the time.
So, when the snake show guys ask you if you want to come down and play with the deadly snakes – will you?
I often receive email from people that are deathly afraid of venomous and other snakes in Thailand. Some people refuse to visit the country after finding a website like ThailandSnakes.com. They get the idea that snakes are rampant all over Thailand and that they are unavoidable. The truth is much different. You are not likely to see any snakes in Thailand during your visit. Even if you go looking for them, snakes are difficult to locate. The other night I went out for over three hours in the heart of snake country, and still didn’t find any snake.
Anyway, here is an email I just sent to someone to help allay fears of snakes in Thailand.
* * * * *
Snakes are really about the least harmful things you could ever come across for a couple of reasons…
1. They have no legs or arms. They are basically a long tail. They cannot move fast on the ground, I mean fast in comparison to humans. We can easily outrun any snake that exists.
2. Only the very large pythons in Thailand might target a human being as prey. Everything else gets away as fast as possible – even when confronted.
3. There are about 8 deaths per year due to venomous snake bite in Thailand. Probably every one of them are plantation workers that get bitten, apply some “magical salve” made of ground leaves and roots, and then, when they realize their foot or hand is gangrenous – go to the hospital too late. Occasionally a snake handler is bitten and dies – they tease the snakes mercilessly, day after day, and eventually a snake gets in a lucky bite.
4. You have to really piss snakes off before most of them will bite… or, be too close. So, don’t get close and don’t aggravate them.
I have never heard of a tourist, visitor, foreigner, being bitten by and killed by a deadly snake in Thailand. People have cobras in their yard, vipers, whatever else… the snakes do NOT want to see humans and will get away at every opportunity.
Just be cautious walking in grass outside. Don’t walk anywhere you cannot see where your feet are stepping.
If you see a snake in your yard – grab a photo, send it to me, and I’ll let you know if it was venomous. If so, and you see it again and can watch where it goes – call the EMS or police in your area, and they’ll know the snake guys that can come take it away for you.
If you’re bitten by a snake, stay calm and go to the hospital. Venom usually takes hours before you’re debilitated. Wait to see if symptoms even develop. A good portion of bites don’t include envenomation. They are dry bites, so to speak. Little or no venom is released through the fangs during a dry bite. There have been studies done with cobras and vipers that show that 30-50% of bites are dry bites, even when the snake is directly stepped on.
Hope this helps. I’ll repost it at the thailandsnakes.com site. Maybe it will help someone else relax a bit about snakes here.
On July 17, 2015 In Austin, Texas there was an 18-year-old man that seems to have been bitten by a monocled cobra in his vehicle recently and died of cardiac arrest (heart attack). This site got hammered with thousands of page-view requests for the monocled cobra fact page as a result.
The news report was horribly inadequate. It told that the man was bitten by a monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia). It showed snake tongs outside the man’s truck. It said the man died. It said that authorities were now looking in Austin, Texas for a monocled cobra and that they have a “good chance” of catching it. Huh? A good chance? I wouldn’t say that at all.
But, I don’t know where they’re looking. Maybe there isn’t much in the way of greenery around there and maybe it won’t be difficult to catch the snake. Anyway, when the temperature dips into the 50’s or so, that snake will not be mobile because it probably never experienced anything like 50°F!
The Siamese Viper, Russel’s Viper, or Chain Viper. Daboia viper snakes kill more people across the globe than any other snake. Their fangs are long, strong, and permit a lot of venom to be transferred in an instant.
ONE OF THE COMPLICATIONS OF A BITE FROM THIS SNAKE IS THAT A MAN’S TESTICLES MAY SHRIVEL (testicular atrophy), AND THERE MAY BE A LOSS OF PUBIC HAIR.
Even 3 Years AFTER THE BITE!
(Source – WHO – World Health Organization publication, “Guidelines for the Clinical Management of Snake bites in the South-East Asia Region.”) Here is an abstract from a paper written on the topic.
Needless to say, this is NOT a snake you want to be bitten by. Curiously, this is one snake I don’t see the freehandlers picking up.
THAILAND LOCATION – This species is located in Central Thailand – meaning Bangkok, Pattaya, and surrounding areas. There is no reason it couldn’t be found outside that range because ranges often change as snakes are discovered in places they previously were not found. They do prefer dry air to humid, and are not found in dense forest.
This and other species of Daboia are also found across much of Asia.
CAUTIONS – The Siamese viper is a primarily nocturnal snake that crawls along the ground. It is found on paths, sidewalks, in backyards, and really almost anywhere. Do not walk at night without a flashlight. Do not walk in high grass or plants where you cannot see clearly to the ground. This is the type of cover these vipers may be found in, day or night.
ANTIVENIN – monovalent, “Russell’s Viper Antivenin.” Developed at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok, Thailand.
Got off to a busy start with a number of visitors, including the most esteemed, Al Coritz aka: ViperKeeper on YouTube. Al and I went out on our own a couple of trips but also were able to herp with a couple of my friends – Marc Littlewood and Ronny Levin. We found 3-4 snakes each night as I recall. ViperKeeper was able to add a few snakes to his Lifer List – including the Malayan Krait (B. candidus), the Brown-spotted Pit Viper (T. venustus), Mangrove Pit Viper (T. purpureomaculatus), Malayan Pit Viper (C. rhodostoma), and a Small-spotted Coral Snake (C. maculiceps). There may have been more, and there were definitely more non-venomous he’d not seen in the wild before. Great visit – so glad he finally made it over to Thailand, I’ve been inviting him for about six years!
After Al left, I had to really get to work in planning the Summer Event which has managed to elude a name altogether. Elliot said it should be called, “SnakeStock 2016.” And that sounded almost reasonable, but it didn’t stick this year. Maybe next year.
We had 18 people come from all over the world to experience venomous and non-venomous snakes in various field herp activities. We climbed mountains and rode kayaks looking for snakes. Neither of which produced even one snake. Bit of a bummer there.
The event overall was a success, but bordered on catastrophe. I’ll leave it at that. We found 36 snakes and 16 species, so really quite a decent expenditure of energy by anyone’s standards. We ate awesome food and I met some amazing people. You never really know who is going to show up, and I was very pleased with the group. I’ve never herped so much in my life, so that was a new experience. Still, it hasn’t ended. I’ve got Elliot visiting and there are still 3 guys from the Event who are in town. We’re set to herp again tonight, after herping last night and finding 7 snakes, and 7 the night before. It’s definitely the right time of year, but I have noticed a big uptick in my spotting skills since I’ve been going out often. I am sure I can go out any night and find 3 snakes, probably more, depending on how much time I have. I haven’t had that confidence before.
Oh, I almost forgot… the highlight of the 5 day event, for me, was the neonate D. cyanochloris, a bronzeback snake that was just mind-bogglingly beautiful. I found one years ago at the top of a mountain with a temple – and haven’t seen it since.
This next book, “Is That Snake In Your House Dangerous?” has taken MONTHS longer than I was expecting. It is difficult to rely on others for information, photos, and advice. Guess they are necessary evils but man, so much for producing the book in a couple of weeks like I thought I might – last year!
THAILAND SNAKES T-SHIRTS
I still have some XXL t-shirts left in white, green, grey, and yellow. These shirts fit the average man once washed. The material is quite decent and I have had no complaints at all.
The FB group is going well. We’ve got around 4,500 subscribers. Not a whole lot of regular contributors though. Wish I could change that. I’ll refocus on the website for a bit, having neglected it for months while the FB site is easier to share small info bits.
ON THE HORIZON
I have an idea… an overall idea about how to go about funding the rest of my days in Thailand, should I choose to stay. It involves snakes. It involves venom. It does not include milking snakes. Will reveal more as I get more into the outline of it. It’s a big idea and yet one that I think has the potential to change at least some portion of the world. Yeah, that big… Let’s see if I can pull it together.
OBLIGATORY SNAKE PHOTOS
I’ve been taking less and less photos and focusing more on videos. I have a ton of videos to put up on YouTube, but it will be a long time before I’m able to focus on them and get them uploaded. Here’s a photo or two – some snakes found recently.
Vern L. ThailandSnakes.com Facebook.com/ThailandSnakes
Here’s a bit of news out of Krabi province. Just in the last month I’ve come across two people that were bitten by two of the worst snakes in the country, in all of the world really.
The first case was almost expected. I mean, you work with deadly snakes everyday, multiple times each day, and you’ll eventually slip up and one will get you. That’s what happened to a young 19 year old that works at a cobra show. He was doing the show with the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). He was on his knees and moving his head around to entice the snake to strike. He stopped moving for a brief second, and the snake struck at his shoulder. The bite was more of a scrape, but it definitely scraped the shoulder of the boy pretty deeply. His scar looks serious enough. To be bitten on the shoulder right there, near the heart and near some big blood vessels probably would not have resulted in a good situation had he been envenomated. But, he lucked out tremendously. The big cobra didn’t inject any venom. LUCKY OWEN!
As you probably know, king cobras have a venom that is not all that potent. I mean, it’s comparable with pit viper venom as far as cytotoxic damage it does, but it also has the neurotoxic component that renders muscle useless and stops the heart and breathing. The exceptional power of the king cobras bite is that it can transfer up to 7 ml of venom into the body of a victim. The usual amount is about .5 ml, and that’s enough to kill most people with a good bite.
The second case of snake bite in Krabi happened to a woman that was working in her garden at mid-day. There had been no rain at all for about two months prior to the bite incident. She kept her garden water on a lot during the day so she could water her plants. The snake, a Malayan pit viper, was coiled under some plants enjoying the cool water. She put her hand close to where it was, and ZAP. It tagged her with both fangs on the hand. She quickly wento to the hospital, but never did present any symptoms. Another dry bite! So, two-for-two here in Krabi.
Venomous snake bites result in a dry bite around 50% of the time. That means that you have a 50-50 chance that there will be no other complications other than the damage to your skin where the fangs penetrated.
Be careful in your garden, and walking around. May through December is the time in Thailand and many bordering countries where snakes are at their most abundant and most active. Be especially careful not to tread on or near the Russell’s Viper or Malayan Pit Viper. These are two vipers that are well hidden on the ground and don’t tend to move out of the way when someone is walking toward them. At night – use a flashlight (torch) to see where you’re putting your feet as you walk. You do NOT want to be bitten by a venomous snake in Thailand. Take care!
Thailand Herping Report by David Frohlich (Acrochordus granulatus)
I decided to go herping in a mangrove forest near Pranburi, Thailand with a friend of mine, George. We arrived there at about 8:00 p.m. The weather during March was warm and the sky was clear. Surprisingly not many insects were calling. We found 3 Long-nosed Vine Snakes (Ahaetulla nasuta) in the first 30 minutes of the walk and we were very happy with that. But they were nothing compared to the next snake I spotted about 1 hour later at about 9:30 p.m.
I saw a black and white banded snake surfacing in mid-river for air. I immediately ran into the water to grab it! My first thought was that it’s a krait of some sort, but then quickly realized that its not. It turns out it was the rare Marine File Snake also known as the “Wart Snake” (Acrochordus granulatus)! These snakes grow to about 1 meter long and has black and white banding the entire length of the body. They are rather rare marine snakes that are active at night and are predominantly water dwellers. They eat small fish and saltwater eels. What a beautiful snake! I had never seen one of these before. The skin feels rough like sand, but at the same time very soft as well. Unlike any snake I have ever felt, very difficult to describe. The eyes are bright blue and the tail is slightly flattened into a paddle shape. Once I brought it out on land to get a good look at it, I felt 7 huge lumps in the snakes body in the back half of the body. I’m am assuming she is pregnant and those lumps are the juveniles, these snakes don’t lay eggs like most snakes, they give live birth. I am very happy to have found this truly awesome snake in Thailand.
The Marine File Snake is non-venomous and of no danger to humans. Acrochordus granulatus can be quickly identified by small blue eyes located on top it’s head, the lack of enlarged ventral scales, and loose-fitting skin with a gritty, sandy feel to it. On land, it is very sluggish and moves slowly. This snake is in the same Genus as the Javan File Snake (Acrochordus javanicus), which is brown in color, as thick as a human leg, and up to 3 meters in length.
Here is a short video of the snake:
Here are some photos of the Marine File Snake in the location found:
Thailand Snakes covers venomous and non-venomous snakes in Thailand and surrounding countries. Cobras, Kraits, Vipers, Corals, Rat Snakes, Tree Snakes, Whip Snakes, Pipe Snakes, Kukris, Pythons, and more.