Alex Gillard spent more than 5-months with me, herping nearly every day, and sometimes multiple times each day. We found so much stuff I tired of counting it. Some amazing finds, and an awesome Summer! Thanks for coming out Alex! And no, I didn’t beg Alex to write this glowing report, I think we were both blown away with the quantity and quality (and sheer quantity of quality) of finds we had this year. Mind-blowing!
Well, it’s official, my time in paradise has come to an end. I woke up this morning, looked at the changing leaves on the Japanese maple outside my window, drank some tap water for the first time in five months and forced myself out of bed to face reality. I can say with absolute sincerity that the 5 months I just spent exploring the jungles of southern Thailand with Vern and Thailand Snakes were five of the best months of my life. If you had told 8-year-old me (the kid who used to keep corn snakes and tell people he wanted to be a herpetologist) he would one day stumble upon an opportunity to spend every day for an entire summer looking for snakes (and nocturnal fauna of all kinds) in rural SE Asia, it would have been Christmas Eve every night for the following 21 years.
From quite literally the first moment out with Vern, we were finding snakes (we saw a Malayan pit viper about 5 metres into the start of the hike). The first excursion, which lasted around three hours, turned up 2 more Malayan pit vipers, a Malayan and Laotian wolf snake, and 2 oriental vine snakes. Over the course of snake season (June-September) that would come to be considered a slow night. In the ensuing 5 months, Vern would be both directly and indirectly responsible for virtually every single animal I saw in southern Thailand. Whether it was found with him, or exploring locations he’d introduced me to, I was privileged enough to see and photograph 30 different species of snake during my time in Krabi. I was also thrilled to be able to make some finds which were lifers for both Vern and I (no small feat when you consider Vern has been in Thailand for almost 13 years and seen so much).
Thailand snakes definitely delivers on what it advertises (i.e. snakes), but if you keep your eye out, you are almost guaranteed to see so much more. During my time in southern Thailand I saw colugos, slow lorises, hog badgers, an Asiatic golden cat, a pangolin, a civet, many different species of bat, frog, toad, spider, scorpion, centipede, insect (flying and terrestrial) and lizard. There is so much to see in the Thai jungle and even in spots we had visited hundreds of times, Vern and I would always be surprised by something both of us (but more impressively, Vern) had yet to see.
People always claim to offer you an opportunity to experience the ‘real’ this, or ‘authentic’ that in the midst of so many pre-packaged, generic sightseeing opportunities out there. But what I found this summer is probably the only organization in the entire country (with a population of more than 68 million people) able to show you and teach you about the flora and fauna in southern Thailand and allow you to get so up close and personal with it. The combination of knowledge (of flora and fauna, of the geography, locations and layout of Southern Thailand) and his ability to spot animals in the rain forest really is unprecedented. You will not find anyone else capable of providing you with the type and consistency of experience.
If you love nature and the natural world (in particular snakes) and are going to be in southern Thailand, your best chance to see it up close, raw and in a 1-on-1 (or small group) setting, free of the big, noisy parties of people clamouring through the rain forest on the backs of elephants (scaring off all wild life in a 100 metre radius), is with Thailand Snakes. The experience is as unique as you will find in Thailand and is well worth your time.
Images of some of our finds…