Got a call from a resort about 30 kilometers away last night. They had a snake caught in a fish trap on their pond. They didn’t know how long it was in there, or if dead. They thought they saw it move. I figured, well I haven’t been out of the house, let me go take a look.
I grabbed my camera and flashlight (it was near dark already), and raincoat. It was raining all day. I wondered what snake would be out on a day like this?
I get there and the manager leads me across a flooded yard 50 meters away at one end of a large pond. The water is racing over a drainage level and it’s raining hard. I’m chilled, so it must be around 25C. The water is cold, I feel it with my foot as I stepped into a deep puddle. I was shown the fishing trap – a very small net bag with tiny fish inside. Also there was a snake coiled up tightly and not fighting as I moved the bag.
As I moved it around I realized it was a small (1.5-2m) king cobra! WOW. Glad I came out for this!
I dropped the fishing trap net into my big snake bag and the snake hit the bottom of my bag while I pulled out the trap. I tied it off, and double and triple checked it and put it in the car for the trip home. The entire time the snake didn’t move but once or twice, very slowly. I figure it was cold and needed to warm up, but it was also exhausted from trying to escape from the trap for maybe 16 hours since the day before. The trap was half in the water, so it was definitely chilled down to a chilly temperature. The water was maybe 20C – definitely out of the ideal range for a king in Southern Thailand where it’s always over 28C.
Overnight the snake moved not at all. I figured it was maybe dead. I transferred it to a plastic box and secured it in a spare bedroom which I locked.
This morning I had a check and as soon as I touched the box I heard a small hiss. YES! It was alive and probably going to recover fully. Just needed a few more days of rest.
So, that’s where we’re at now. The snake is hopefully well on the road to recovery and I’ll get some photos and videos as I release it where it was found. I haven’t had the pleasure of finding a small king before. They are so much more unwieldy than the bigger, slower kings. I’m looking forward to a great time releasing it in maybe two days. I have a friend coming from the UK tomorrow, so that will be good to have his assistance with filming.
As I was putting the snake in the big plastic box from the bag I realized, there’s really only one snake I’m afraid of to any degree. It’s the king cobra. They are just incredible snakes, and I’ve heard secondhand about a couple of people dying from them already. I’ve seen the result of bites and heard plenty of stories from the Burmese guys at the snake shows. Kings have a way of biting when you don’t expect it. Happens to the best in the world. Happens to guys that milk thousands of snakes. Happens to guys who work thousands of hours with them (Snake show guys, Luke Yeomans). Happened recently to an older guy in India who was doing snake rescue. It twisted in his hand while he was dumping it in a bag. He died quickly.
Snakes are nothing to mess with here in Thailand. There are a number of them that can fool even the best. Monocled cobras that spit venom – ever hear of that? I’ve seen it. Ever hear about a banded krait (B. fasciatus) without bands, but with stripes? Yep, mutations exist. You could be sure what a snake is, and then it is something else entirely.
Please be exceptionally careful around snakes in Thailand, and in Southeast Asia… well, across the globe. A bite is not just a serious thing – it’s expensive as hell and it’s a lot of pain not just for you, but for your family. Don’t take risks… hand-holding a banded krait in the daytime is asking for a bite. Some of the effects are irreversible. I know a guy bitten by one in Bangkok in the daytime at a show in a bar. He suffered for 2 YEARS. Kraits aren’t supposed to bite in the daytime, that’s what you heard – right? Lots of surprises in this hobby.
Video of the Release… The king cobra recovered in a short time and we were able to let it go free right where it was found.