Cobras in your Yard
It happens here in Thailand, and across a great many countries. Cobras can come into your yard, garage, home, or business.
What should you do about cobras in your yard?
Let them be? Should you kill them? Are you capable of it without getting bitten or having venom sprayed into your eyes?
I just don’t have a great way for everyone to deal with them. Some of you won’t be able to get help. You might not be able to find someone skilled at catching them, and you’ll have to take care of the cobra(s) yourself.
Some cobras spit venom too – at a distance. With a wind blowing the venom could travel through the air at some distance. It’s basically a mist. Do be very aware of that possibility. Without wind, count on the snake being able to squirt the venom 3 meters (10 feet) through the air toward your eyes. It corrodes the tissues of the eyes – so, really be cautious. They’re quite good at aiming for your face.
The first thing you should realize is – you and your family are not likely to be bitten by a cobra in your yard. The odds are against it.
Still, it happens. You step out of your door and it’s on the doorstep. Or it’s in the grass and you don’t see it. Your child or dog steps on it. It probably doesn’t happen every day, but I’d guess a couple of times a week across Thailand. I get emails many times a year from people wondering – “Vern, what do I do about cobras in my yard?”
Should you just live with that threat in your yard?
Cobra venom is very strong and can kill a child quickly before you can seek medical attention in some cases. Though you are most likely going to pull through an envenomed bite OK if you have someone take you to the hospital quickly – do you really want a cobra living in your yard?
I’ve thought a lot about the question – “What Would I DO?”
If I wasn’t skilled with snakes, and cobras in particular…
What would I do as a father of young kids with cobras in my yard?
1. If there was anyone I could call to have the cobra removed when I saw it – and that could arrive FAST and get it done… I’d do that.
Who can you call?
You can call the snake show guys in your area, or the ambulance guys on the emergency number, or tourist police, or any police. Usually, someone will be able to come out. They may not know what they’re doing. Or, they may not. It’s a roll of the dice really. If they cannot catch it the first time – I wouldn’t screw around more with calling them, and I’d go with Step #2.
2. Buy a long PVC pipe (3m) and make a noose with a thin flexible cord rope. Wearing safety glasses, catch the cobra in the noose. If you had a truck or had a helpful neighbor with one, and you can transport the snake safely in the back of the truck (still holding the snake in the noose) – you could take it to a remote area by water and drop it off to live another day. Use a truck with an open bed. Do not risk taking the cobra inside your vehicle.
If no truck is available, can you and another person take a motorbike to a remote location – with the cobra in the noose far out to the side of the motorbike – and drop it off near water and away from houses?
If not, can you walk a couple of hundred meters into the forest and drop it off near a stream or lake?
Failing everything you can think of to get the snake far away from your home, you could choose to kill it. How best to do that?
You could either pull the noose tight around the neck, shutting off the breathing (takes 20-30 minutes). Or, hold it underwater for that long until it stops moving.
Is it cruel? That’s a question for you to answer.
If you have exhausted your options to keep the snake alive and relocate it, you have to decide whether it’s a worthwhile risk to have the snake return to your yard and hurt someone.
The main reason a snake is in your yard, to begin with, is that there is food there, or the snake lives there. Once you move the snake out of your yard, you can immediately seal up all entrances to your yard and home. Easier said than done though. You can remove all frogs, fish, and bird feeders. You can keep trash locked in receptacles outside your yard – and rodent-proof your yard.
So many considerations when you have snakes in your yard. Even more grave considerations when the snake could kill you or your family, or your pets.
There is no good answer about what to do for someone who is not skilled at dealing with cobras.
I can’t condemn anyone for killing the snake if they can’t get help to remove it, or cannot do it on their own. Thais with cobras in their yards usually kill the snakes immediately – unless it’s a big one… then maybe a bit afraid, and they’ll call someone.
Using a long PVC pipe with a noose is probably the safest way to kill a deadly snake. Thing is, you’ll have to get the rope around the neck, not the mid-body. Squeezing the mid-body will just break ribs and not kill the snake by stopping it from breathing.
If you exhaust your possibilities – and there is nobody around to help – you need to get the snake out of your yard on your own or kill it. Up to you.
If you have more alternatives for someone faced with a cobra in their yard, or living in their yard, please leave a comment. It will be interesting to hear your views on the topic.