Category Archives: Thailand Snake Notes

Nearly 7 Years of ThailandSnakes.com – Thanks!

Thailand Snakes stats.

When I started this website almost 7 years ago, I really didn’t think there’d be that many people interested in the herpetofauna of Thailand. I was so wrong. The stats above show the growth of ThailandSnakes.com over the years. This month we are already the 2nd highest traffic month ever. Traffic means people coming to the site and what they’re consuming – pageviews.

Now I need to come to a decision – either crank it up to be as big as it can possibly get, or just let it coast.

I certainly don’t have all the pages I want on the site yet. It’s slow going to add new species pages. It takes a few hours to write the information and find good photos. When I look at the traffic numbers, people are mostly interested in the common Thailand snakes, and venomous Thailand snakes categories.

I have few pit vipers listed. I have no seasnakes listed – I might have Laticauda. Can’t recall. I have very few snakes outside of the species I catch here in the South. I could really add another 100 species to cover more of the commonly seen snakes in Thailand.

I have a lot of helpful pages up. I’m not sure what else I could write to help people with snakes. If you have any ideas, do let me know!

I’m stuck about how to monetize the site. There is a ton of free info here, and I’ve written some books to cover more specific info people may want. I’m writing a new book that will be finished in a few days – “Venomous Snakebites and Near Misses – Southeast Asia Edition” which I hope everyone likes. Some of the stories are really fascinating. Danger lurking around every corner.

If you have any suggestions for the site, now is the time to let me know.

Cheers!

The Best Herping Headlamp? Petzl Ultra Rush!

OK, bear with me as I recommend this obscenely expensive headlamp for herping, but I have to do it. I doubt there is anyone else in the world using this headlamp to find snakes, reptiles, amphibians, etc… but, you know what?

The Petzl Ultra Rush Headlamp is the BEST Headlamp for Herping

How much is it? Don’t ask. You can’t afford it. I afford it because I reviewed it for my Headlamps101.com site, and then I’ve been using it for the past month, and it has absolutely blown me away. I have found more snakes and other wildlife than I would have found with other lights – by far. It’s not just the brightness, it’s bright. It’s a combination of factors reviewed below.

It’s really the best headlamp for herping that I’ve seen, and I’ve used dozens of LED flashlights and eight top of the line headlamps over the years. I have never found any headlamp even close to this one.

What Qualities Are Important in a Herping Headlamp?

LUMENS

It’s not just lumens. If it was, I’d go out and buy six of the 1,500 lumens lights for $70 each, and be done with it. It has little to do with lumens. I mean, you need a good number of lumens – say 400 lm to be bright enough for most of your herping needs. Four hundred does it for me for ground herping. It’s just about right. With the Ultra Rush headlamp, I get 420 lm for 5 hours straight. I can’t remember the last time I herped for 5 hours in a night, but yeah, it’s available if you need it that long. If you need it for longer than that, you can get 300 lumens for 7 hour out of it. That’s plenty long enough for even the most intrepid herpers. Three hundred lumens is still very usable for closer distances – say 3-4 meters in front of you, though it isn’t all that great for herping high in the trees.

With four hundred and twenty lumens, you will be able to light up the ground to about 10-15 meters and trees  – at every distance you could need to – because you sure aren’t climbing a 15 meter tree to get a snake down. You don’t need more lumens for most uses. That said, for road cruising – it is nice to have more so you can see 50 meters or so down the road and spot a snake. The Ultra Rush headlamp GIVES YOU THAT with 760 max lumens on demand. Switch on the super-bright 760 lumens occasionally as you need to see extra-far or need something you’re unsure about, lit up like Times Square. Or, you can just crank it up from the start to 760 lumens and it will go straight for 2 hours. Note – if you do it this way, it’s actually over 900 lumens for the first 15-20 minutes!

When I am riding my motorbike with the high-beams on and then turn on this headlamp at full power – the headlamp is easily 6 times as bright as my high-beams on the motorbike. That’s bright.

BEAM SHAPE

Keep in mind that the next factor – Beam Shape – greatly affects the measurement of lumens put out by the light. You can have 420 lumens spread out over 1 meter diameter at 4 meters, or at .5 meters, it is giving only half the light. The Ultra Rush gives you a large beam size – matching the capabilities of your eyes. Most beams are too tight or far too wide to give you what you need. For example, a headlamp with a 420 lumen rating that is spread out across 150 degrees of angle – will be so dim – you’d be lucky to be able to read a book by it. Lumens is a measure of total light leaving the headlamp. How it spreads out – substantially affects the brightness of the light. This leads us to the next factor…

For herping, you need a beam that matches exactly what your eyes are capable of. Your eyes are only capable of seeing snakes and other wildlife in a small range of area as you scan the ground or trees. At three meters from you, you’d be lucky to see a full meter in diameter. At four meters you could see a meter or so. The Ultra Rush was designed to match your vision.

Most headlamps have an overly-bright center spotlight beam which is too tight, too small, and too bright. At four meters distance, it is around a half-meter in size. That is too small and will contribute to eye-fatigue.

Another typical feature of headlamps and flashlights is that they try to do two things at once. They try to have a bright center beam (spot) and a wide beam going at the same time. The result is a too-bright center spotlight and a very weak flood light. Neither of these helps you find snakes. What you need is a circular beam that covers enough diameter so you can see what the light makes visible. The Ultra Rush is just perfect for this. There are 6 LED lights that blend perfectly to give you a round beam that is evenly lit and a big enough diameter to help you see everything that is there in front of you.

BEAM LIGHT BALANCE

Something I didn’t understand until recently is that, you want a WARM COLORED BEAM for your headlamp. Previous to the Ultra Rush, I was using the Nao 2 Headlamp – which I thought was awesome for 2016 – it’s dependable and I found hundreds of snakes using it. Guess what? It has a either a blue-tinted (cold) beam, or maybe it’s neutral – I cannot tell. But, when I compare the two beams – Nao 2 against the Ultra Rush – the Nao 2 beam has a bluish tint in comparison.

At first I didn’t know how that affected herping. Today I know, the slightly warm tint of the Ultra Rush is PERFECT for finding wildlife in the rainforest. For whatever reason, the warm light accents the differences between snakes and plants, snakes and the surroundings, lizards and plants, insects and plants or the ground. It’s really quite amazing to see the difference, but I’ve found so much more wildlife with this new Ultra Rush headlamp, than I ever found with my other headlamps with blue tints and tighter or looser beams.

DEPENDABILITY

The Petzl company has been around since the late 1970’s! No kidding. They were making headlamps for cavers and climbers for 40+ years now. They are definitely the best company for headlamps, and I’d not use anything else. I’ve used four of their top headlamps and all of them were durable, dependable, and gave a great quality of light. I’d certainly not switch to any other brand at this point. Go with what WORKS I’ve always been told.

When you’re in the deep rainforest and you need to depend on a headlamp to get you back out of the forest – and find you the most snakes and other wildlife – I strongly suggest you get this Ultra Rush headlamp. It’s expensive as hell. I encourage you to compare it to other lights – especially beam patterns. One-thousand lumens doesn’t mean much if the beam is super tight and laser-like. At least order this headlamp and try it out for yourself. I think you won’t be able to send it back. Like me. You’ll keep it and make excuses why you couldn’t possibly send it back. You’ll love it from the day it arrives.

Cheers,

Vern L.
ThailandSnakes.com
USASnakes.com
SnakebiteAid.org

 

Preparing for 2017 Herping Season – Excited…

Nothing quite like the anticipation of another amazing snake season here in Thailand and maybe some other parts of Southeast Asia in 2017.

We got some rain last week, flooded the hell out of Krabi in some spots, but most of it drained within a couple hours of bucketing down and flooding roads and places I’d never seen flooded before. A bit like the flood of May 2011, but worse.

Last night I went out and found 4 snakes in 25 minutes. That might be a record. There were trees all over the road, and I couldn’t go far, but I herped what I could get to, and I guess I really wanted to find snakes because it wasn’t difficult, but some were in difficult spots to see.

Here’s a rundown of what the year looks like at the moment.

February – Sisaket and Ubon Ratchathani trip.

April – Isaan trip – Yasothon, Sisaket, Ubon, and there’s a national park in Mukdahan I want to have a look at. There’s some things up here other than snakes that I’m interested in – and I’m not only talking about Spago’s Pizza either! Though, if my stomach will handle it, I’ll shovel some in.

May – Possibly having a couple visitors for herping. Anything could happen, so we’ll see.

June – SnakeStalk 2017. So looking forward to it!

July – Considering making a run up to Nakhon to see a few people and herp some new areas. Thing is, I really want to focus on hatchling king cobras here in our area – and I have a couple places to check on continually during June/July. It’s probably better I stay here, and make it August I go up to Nakhon (Korat).

Aug – Herping the heck out of this place, or going to Korat.

September – Herping the heck out of this place.

October – depends on weather

November – depends on weather

December – not much is likely

 

Thailand Snake Note – What is Field Herping for Snakes?

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:

  1. Walking through the forest, along streams, up mountains, etc.
  2. 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 protected]

Here’s more info – Herping for Snakes (Tips) >

How To Find a King Cobra in Thailand?

King cobra in freshwater stream in Krabi, Thailand.
A three meter king cobra found in Krabi province through persistence and luck.

Many people are trying to find a king cobra in Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere.

How Do You Find a King Cobra?

When I first got into the hobby eight or so years ago, I thought there was some sort of formula I could use to find snakes I was targeting. This was my mentality back then because I was an addicted kayak fisherman who was on the ocean every weekend and a fair number of weekdays floating around and catching gator trout, snook, redfish, and other amazing species. I figured catching snakes was just like catching fish. Target them with the right equipment, time, weather, and bait, and I could catch whatever I was focused on.

I’ve since learned that snakes and fish are radically different.

To start with, there are very few snakes you can target and catch repeatedly. Here in Southern Thailand I can usually target a Homalopsis buccata (puff-faced water snake) and have a good chance of catching one because I know where they generally are. Generally. Sometimes I cannot find them. Where they go is anyone’s guess, maybe to the deeper water during the dry season – because at the moment they are very difficult to find in the shallow pools I’ve been looking in.

Anyway, back to the King Cobra and how to catch one.

There are people who come over to Thailand and are lucky enough to find a snake during their vacation. One fell over a waterfall for a guy who sent me a photo of him standing beside one floating in a pool of water. Then, there’s everybody else.

Thailand king cobra fell over a waterfall in Thailand.
Thanks to Robert Abrams for permission to post this photo of a king cobra which washed over a waterfall while he was swimming.  Amazing Thailand.

Finding a king cobra comes down to just two things. Persistence, and luck. That’s it really. You can try to go out during daytime hours, or limited daytime hours. You can go out early evenings only. You can target patches of bamboo. You can go out during mating season. You can go out in areas where they are known to have been previously. You can rub captive king cobra feces all over your pants and walk around the forest. To my knowledge, it is only people who are persistent and who get lucky, that will find king cobras.

I’ve found four of them now. I live here in Thailand full-time and I am always looking around for them on the road, in open fields or wherever I am. I go looking for snakes in the forest a couple times a month on average. I can’t remember when I found the first one – there are two that were fairly close together. One was on step 357 of 1,200+ steps leading up a mountain at a Buddhist temple. People were screaming and a friend of mine ran down the steps and ran right into me.

Him: Hey Mr. Vern! Snake! You catch snakes, right?

Me: Sure, uhm, what kind of snake?

Him: Cobra! Big!

Me: How big?

Him: I don’t know, 4 meters maybe?

Me: No, I don’t catch 4 meter cobras!

I did however go up and touch the tail and poke it with a stick a couple times to move it off the steps. It was a real beauty – light brown, yellowish and in perfect shape. Very strong, and definitely the top of the reptile food chain in the area.

So, I wasn’t looking for snakes, and there she was – a real mindblower!

The next time was while looking half-heartedly for snakes and standing on a road that goes up a mountain. I was looking one way, turned around in time to see a massive tail of a king cobra disappearing into the thick brush. I mean massive as in twice the size and thickness of any other king cobra I’d seen at the snake show I used to visit a few times per month. It was ridiculously large. Apparently it just crossed the road behind me with no fear at all. I was only maybe 10 meters away.

Another time I found one on Penang Hill in Malaysia while running down a forest trail.

The last time, and this was one of the best for sure – was when I was herping with Tom Charlton, and he found one in the early evening as we herped some man-made pools I’d been to over 100 times before. I’d never seen a king cobra anywhere near there before. Still, there he was – 3 meters of absolute reptile perfection!

Tom had been coming to Thailand and Malaysia for 12 years and hadn’t found a king cobra before last week. They are NOT an easy species to target. You probably shouldn’t pay for a herping trip – a wildlife tour that promises to find you a king. In Indonesia they are actually promising you can find a wild king, but they’re putting them in bags and releasing them in front of the tourists that just paid stacks of cash to see one in the wild. It’s nuts!

There are two parts of the equation for finding kings – persistence and luck. Really, only luck is necessary – you don’t even have to go looking for king cobras to find them. You just need a lot of luck!

Good luck to you!

More info about King Cobras here.

King Cobra Fact Page >

All King Cobra Pages >

Thailand Snake Note – Bitten by Snake?

DO YOU KNOW WHICH SNAKE BIT YOU? IF YES, CLICK ONE:

If you are bitten by a snake in Thailand or anywhere in Southeast Asia:

1. Lay down on the ground and be calm. Many bites – around 50% – are “DRY” bites, meaning, there is no venom transferred during the bite.

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

Emergency Numbers:

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

3. 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.

4. Rinse the snakebite site with water if someone can bring it to you. Don’t get up to get water, stay laying down. Do not touch the bite site, or massage it, rub it, cut it open, or do anything to the site at all.

IF YOU KNOW WHICH SNAKE BIT YOU:

1. If the snake that bit you is a Pit Viper – any green or brown viper, just rinse the area with water and get to the hospital as soon as you can. Pit viper bites can take many hours and even days to become life-threatening. Pit Viper bites may burn and possibly throb at the bite site. Do NOT wrap a Pit Viper bite.

2. If the snake was a Krait, King Cobra, Coral Snake, or Keelback, you can apply an elastic wrap (or strips of any cloth) to the affected arm or leg, starting at the fingers (toes) and working your way up. Go directly over the bite site. The tension in the wrap should be firm, but a finger should be able to go under the wrap.

Snakes of this type have venom that is primarily neurotoxic, and affects nerve connections. The venom may act very fast – about 10 minutes, or you may have at least a couple hours before severe effects begin. Wrap the limb and get to a hospital quickly.

3. If the snake was one of the other cobras – Monocled or Spitting Cobras, you should not wrap the bite site unless you are more than 10 minutes away from a major hospital. If you are in a remote location – wrap the bite immediately. Wrap the bite immediately for children.

Some symptoms of envenomation are: vomiting, dizziness, severe headache, weakness, slowing of heart rate and/or breathing. Cobras have venom which is both neurotoxic and necrotoxic, meaning it can severely damage tissue at the bite site – especially when wrapped.

If you begin having any serious symptoms soon after a Cobra bite, immediately apply a snug pressure wrap starting at the foot or hand of the bitten limb and moving up the limb. Get to a hospital immediately – having someone take you in a car, truck, or sitting between between two people riding a motorbike. DO NOT DELAY.

IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHICH SNAKE BIT YOU:

1. If you do NOT KNOW what type of snake it was that bit you, go to the hospital immediately. Do not wait for symptoms to develop. Ideally you will be at a hospital within 10-15 minutes of the bite, and they can monitor symptoms. If you have a severe burning or throbbing at the bite site, do not wrap the bite – it is likely to be a Pit Viper or Cobra bite. HOWEVER, if you have nausea, stomach pain, breathing or speech difficulties, or drooping eyelids, wrap it immediately and go to the hospital fast.

2. At the hospital, antivenin is given AFTER you start to have symptoms, not before. Some bites are “dry bites” and inject no venom. 

Caution… antivenin (also called antivenom) can cause severe allergic reaction which sometimes results in anaphylactic shock – a potentially deadly complication. Get good advice on the necessity of antivenin before it is administered. The doctors should do a test to see if you’re allergic to it first before full-scale administration of antivenin. They can also administer the first vial extra slowly and remain prepared for symptoms of shock in case of allergy.

One doctor I know well insists that antivenom should not be given until a syringe of epinephrine is on the table – in case of anaphylactic shock. He has found an approximately 30% instance of bad reaction against the antivenom.

Insist on it!

Here is how the test for sensitivity to antivenin is administered (from Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, Bangkok): “Since the antivenin is prepared from horse serum, sensitization to heterologous protein may occur in some individuals. To avoid serious allergic reactions, skin test should be performed prior to the administration by injection of 0.02 ml of 1:100 antivenin dilution intradermally. It should be noted that the skin test may not predict the anaphylaxis nor delay serum sickness reactions.”

Do Not:

  • Suck the poison out or use any devices to suck out the venom, it can cause more damage to tissue if it is a viper bite.
  • Use a tourniquet, electro-shock, or massage
  • Use ice over the wound
  • Drink alcohol, food, or use aspirin or drugs or medicine of any kind.
  • Use herbal remedies – ingested or applied to the bite site.

Sources:

Information for this article was collected from legitimate sources of emergency information regarding snakebite treatment.

If you want to dispute these steps – please send email to: [email protected]

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 (link is down, site is down)

2015 Recap and 2016 Ideas for ThailandSnakes.com

Well, 2015 went out with a slow crash of everything I have going online to provide income. In a way it’s good because it shocks me into doing something bigger. In a way, it’s bad because I was enjoying not having to work for the past eight years – just being on my own schedule without having to worry about money issues. I don’t have any income related to snakes, but I have at times asked for a donation for Snake Identification services and received some.

Everything cycles around… good times, bad times, and that’s OK. I’m ready for 2016.

In 2015 I wasn’t much focused on snakes until the latter part of the year. I herped sporadically in June and July – the best months for finding snakes, and I focused more on other pursuits like getting my foot healthy after a 5th metatarsal stress fracture. Now that’s healed up pretty well and I’m on track for running a 30 mile race through the mountains here in Thailand at the end of 2016.

Over the past eight years I’ve asked myself whether I could make a living doing something with snakes and other reptiles. Being in Thailand is great for the opportunities I have to see and interact with wildlife of all sorts. It isn’t so good for straight- up business opportunities unless well-funded. Which I’m not.

I thought for years about how great it would be to create a sort of wildlife zoo for people to come and experience snakes, lizards, geckos, turtles, and all sorts of other bugs and other things – in a very natural environment – like a large tented biosphere, almost like a butterfly enclosure you see at some parks. I have a lot of ideas about how to make it zoo-like, but not a zoo at all. I don’t believe in having captive animals – but I’ve come up with a way to organize it so we don’t have animals rotting in cages for years until they die.

So, I’ve been thinking about that. That’s a rather long-term goal. Could happen within a year if I met the right people.

I think about bringing groups of Thais and visitors to Thailand to some place like this to see wildlife instead of all we have – dilapidated “King Cobra Snake Shows” where the snakes are tormented day after day for no reason except a couple hundred thousand Thai baht each month going into the pockets of the owners. People attending shows learn next to nothing because the Burmese and Thais giving the shows don’t speak English well enough to communicate in the language. Not to mention a good portion of the information given out is entirely incorrect.

I’ve been looking at selling snake-related products like books, ebooks, tongs, hooks, traps, video training modules for kids wanting to learn more about reptiles and other animals we have all around us here. I’ve considered setting up a non-profit where people could donate tax-free.

I’ve been thinking about sort of going along the same lines as Rom Whitaker in the India Gats. He has setup a program to study king cobras by radio-chipping them, and following them extensively through the forest as they go about doing what they do on a daily basis. He did it without a degree in biology. He just established his little group and started doing it. I think he eventually got grants, and today he charges volunteers for staying there.

Anyway, so I’m thinking about a lot of things – even more than mentioned here, but I’m not fully convinced that getting started with a number of these projects is worthwhile, or sustainable. Few people across the world care at all about reptiles. I’ve looked at Kickstarter and Indiegogo.com – where people can raise funds (crowd-source) for various ideas, causes, animals, etc. There are very few having to do with reptiles at all. Those that have been tried – haven’t received hardly any donations.

The sad fact is that most people don’t really care about snakes all that much – the general population is just too afraid of them. Many people think that snakes are better off dead. Trying to survive by working with reptiles on donations – is going to be rough, if not impossible.

Still, somehow I’d like to make it work. There are those of us that are passionate about doing something to help stop the slaughter of thousands of king cobras being sold to China as dinner, or python and cobra skins for shoes and bags.

There are some really amazing animals in the rainforests of Thailand, but a lot of them are going to go away because locals see them as easy money.

Just yesterday I changed the name of our Facebook page from “Thailand Snakes” to “Thailand Snakes and other Reptiles.” I might start to branch out to cover lizards, geckos, turtles – wildlife people are maybe more likely to care enough about to donate for.

So then, I have a lot of ideas for 2016, but not sure how much will get started. It depends mostly on figuring out some sort of sustainable funding.

If you or someone you know has a real passion about reptiles and you have an idea how I could go about funding some of these ideas, please get in touch with me.

Don’t forget about our June 2016 Thailand Field Trip event – it will creep up on us faster than you think. There are still a few spots open if you’re thinking about joining us. Start HERE to register.

I’m almost finished with another ebook – not entirely sure of the title yet, but it will be something along the lines of, “Is That Snake In Your Yard Deadly?” I got some great photographers to contribute, so it should be a nice resource for anyone living in Thailand. I will send an email out and write a note here when I release it.

OK, have a GREAT NEW YEAR! If you’re up to something with snakes or reptiles in Thailand, or anywhere, feel free to share with me using the CONTACT page.

Cheers!

Vern L.

Thailand Anaconda

Just a quick note here to clear something up. We get some searches for people looking for anacondas in Thailand – Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Pattaya.

There are no anacondas in the country of Thailand. At least not natively. There are PYTHONS here.

We have mostly reticulated pythons, but then there are also Burmese pythons and Blood pythons.

Reticulated pythons get as long as an anaconda, but not as thickly muscled, nor do they weigh as much. The biggest reticulated python I’ve seen in the country was about 6.5 meters (21.3 feet). Supposedly they reach 30 feet.

Cheers!

Vern

How to Remove Snake During Bite?

If you are an experienced herper and you’re bitten by a deadly venomous snake in Thailand you have seconds to get the snake off you – the more time you take, the greater the chance you are in a life or death situation.

The problem with venomous snakes is that they chew the venom into their victim. The longer you let a snake stay attached to you, the more likely you are to suffer serious complications from the bite – including envenomation (venom injected).

It’s almost unbelievable, no, it IS unbelievable to me that Joe Slowinski – an accomplished herpetologist, let a Many-banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus) bite down on his finger for 10 seconds before getting it off. Perhaps he felt no fang pierce the skin, and so thought he was OK to ease the snake off his finger. Nobody that was there reported that. It’s just a guess. Why else would he let the snake bite that long? This is the #3 most toxic territorial snake in the world – and he definitely knew that the instant he was bitten. He died as a result of the bite some 30+ hours later after failing to get a helicopter to his remote location in Northern Burma.

Anyway, so, don’t let the snake bite down on you for more time than it takes to immediately get it off in the case of a cobra, krait, coral snake, or viper. All of these snakes can put you in grave danger of losing your life.

What is the proper way to remove a venomous snake? Great question – and I don’t know. In all the hundreds – or even thousands of videos I’ve watched about snakes, not one person has ever showed HOW.

I’ll ask a couple herpetologists today and add their responses to this snake note.

Ok, here is what I found out. Basically some advice from those that deal with snakes – venomous and non-venomous – a lot.

1. All venomous snakes are dangerous. Even those that are listed as “Mildly Dangerous” or something else here on this site.

2. Snakes have bad days, headaches, other aches, and other things that put them in agitated moods without you doing anything to cause it. Today is not like every other day with your snake, be extra careful everyday and don’t take the snake for granted.

3. Even small snakes can bite down hard and start chewing before you realize what is happening. Once they start chewing, and once the bite lasts for longer than a second or two – assume venom is being injected into your body and get the snake off you immediately. A 12 year old boy in Phuket, Thailand was bitten by his pet Rhabdophis subminiatus (red-necked keelback) and was in the hospital for 14 days with serious complications. He did pull through though.

4. If a snake bites down don’t pull back on the snake to pull it off you, some snakes have curved teeth (some more than others) and you risk ripping your skin, ripping the teeth off the snake, and making the wound worse.

5. Try grabbing the tail and petting it strongly by rubbing the scales backward – against the lay, ruffling them. This works well with most snakes.

6. Try holding the snake under water – submerged.

7. Try running very warm water over the snake’s head until it releases.

8. Try bending the tail up and backward – this causes a lot of pain in the snake, and even pythons are said to release their bite at this.

9. If you don’t particularly care if you kill the snake while removing it – you can pour rubbing alcohol over the snakes head – it should release. It may die though.

10. If you have vodka, whiskey, or some other strong drinking alcohol to pour over the head – that works well.

If you are bitten by a krait or a cobra, coral snake, or viper in the wild where water isn’t available, personally I would grab the snake behind the head – careful not to grab ON the head because the venom glands are located there on the sides of the head by the eye, and you could actually inject a lot more venom into your body than without touching those areas.

Force the snake’s mouth open and concentrate on getting the top jaw away from your skin – snake venom comes from fangs in the top of the jaw.

Remember, with deadly snakes you have very little time. You don’t have time to go find hot water or tequila, just get it off you immediately. Every second counts.

If anyone else wants to comment on this or has info to add – please write me at: [email protected]

Update: I found a video by some guys that get bitten many times a year. They recommend “Listerine” mouthwash to remove the snake quickly – every time. Fast forward to 2 minutes 40 seconds to see Listerine do it’s stuff.

I’ve started to bring a small container of Listerine with me in my snake bag.

Apparently they’ve used this often – and haven’t seen any negative effects on the snakes. Crazy idea – right?