Tag Archives: Thailand herping

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.

If you haven’t joined the email list – join HERE to get information I sometimes don’t release here through the website.

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.

December 2015 Snake Note

It’s the end of the herping season for 2015 – not only is the year winding down, but there is a real dearth of snakes in the usual areas. I made it a goal to herp more during the latter part of the year because usually from about November through April you can’t find me in the forest at night looking for reptiles and other wildlife. I wanted to find out if I was missing out on something.

This year I went out at night a number of times during October, November and December. I, and those that came with me, found 40+ snakes during this time. I have to say that is about half or less of what can typically be found during a similar effort in the June – July time period. So it’s less productive for sure, but if you’re itching to get out there and find something cool to look at – it’s worth going. There were a couple of “one snake nights” and probably there was even a no-snake night, but I try not to remember those.

This morning I’m sure the air temperature was down to 24°C (75°F) as I took my daughter to school on the motorbike. That was the coldest air I’ve felt in a year!

I’ve had some discussions with other friends about why the herping declines so harshly at the end and beginning of the year.

There are a number of features in play – mainly the temperature and the humidity – both of which change pretty drastically toward December. Twenty-five degrees C is not cold by any means, and snakes can surely move around in that temperature, but when the average temps are closer to 28-32, I think 25 becomes quite cool for them too. It’s likely well outside their ideal range.

The humidity also plunges during these dry months without rain. Snakes prefer a certain humidity level to thrive – and probably the low levels of the dry season make the snakes take a little break when it nose-dives.

The other factor, and this might be a bigger one than both those already mentioned, but tied to them, is there are very few frogs, lizards, skinks and other prey walking around during the dry season. There are some frogs, there is the occasional gecko or lizard, but maybe they aren’t the preferred species? Maybe we see fewer kraits (snake eaters) because the smaller fossorial snakes are curled up in a ball in a hole in the dirt somewhere, riding out the dry season. Could be that too.

All these factors seem to have some effect, serving to make November through April – poor herping season in the country. Other evidence that supports this is I get far fewer requests to identify snakes at my online service. I also see far, far fewer snakes DOR (Dead On Road) or crossing the road.

Whether there are less snakes to find during the daytime, is something I cannot really comment on other than DORs and those crossing the road. I don’t go looking specifically for snakes during the daylight hours, so I’m not sure whether their numbers drop so much during the dry season.

Anybody have any idea on that?

Thailand Snakes Facebook Page – Join Us Over There

Thailand Snakes forum over at Facebook
Thailand Snakes forum over at Facebook

We have a Thailand Snakes Facebook page now. We created the page to make it easier for people to join and post photos and videos, articles that related to Thailand snakes. We have 128 members, but a lot of people in the old Thailand Snakes Forum – are not over there yet.

Here is the URL: http://www.facebook.com/ThailandSnakes

Here is the link: Thailand Snakes Page at Facebook

Night Herping in Southern Thailand – Video

Every few days when I either have some free time, or just reach a point in my snake herping addiction where I MUST GO, I romp around the forest in southern Thailand and try to find cool stuff.

This was a perfect Thailand night. The air was cool and there was even a breeze. The air was not thick and wet, and I wore a long-sleeved shirt and military issue cammies, socks, and running shoes – all things I NEVER wear in southern Thailand unless herping and trying not to be eaten by mosquitoes.

It was very dark on this night – and I think that was a reason for my success. It started out with a small snake slithering off the bank and into the water – very fast, and very small – maybe 8 inches long. In another 10 minutes i saw a 2 meter mangrove snake swimming across one of the small pools of water.

It was ALMOST within reach with my 40 inch tongs – but I just missed him twice. I grabbed slowly and didn’t want him to know I was grabbing at him. He didn’t pick up speed or alter his course – so I think he had no clue something was grabbing for him behind…

He went to the bank – covered with greenery, and just inched up in there and sat. I ran around the lake on the sidewalk and then very slowly crept down to spot he was. I just watched and waited for movement. Nothing. I waited 10 minutes. Nothing. I started pulling apart the vines and water plants that were hiding him. Very slowly. Nothing. I stayed for 10 minutes and pulled up everything around. Nothing. Apparently he slipped under the water and safely away. They are great underwater swimmers, and he must have known I was after him. Bummer. Still, it’s a great feeling to see a 2 m snake swimming in the pitch black night air.

I walked further… in 5 more minutes I saw another 2 meter mangrove snake climbing a wall and ready to ease itself into the water. I waited until his head went forward, just over the water, and grabbed with the tongs – GOT HIM.

Unfortunately I couldn’t film the snatch, and now I’m desperate for a goPRO video camera I can strap to my head. This DSLR stuff is for the birds while herping by myself. I asked two guys to come, and neither were interested. WTF! Irrational fears…

Anyway – you see a bit of the snake on video.

Later that night I saw about 4 nice leopard gecko type beasts – catching 2 to show friends. They freeze when the flashlight is right on them – probably totally blind – and they are easy to grab.

I saw a couple of small owls.

I heard a heavy movement on the hill next to the water. I stopped and listened… it was HEAVY, breaking big twigs loudly. WTF? It had to see me – and yet, it was moving to me, not away.

Initially I thought – big monitor. But I heard no footsteps.

Then I guessed – big reticulated python or Burmese python. Maybe it was looking at me as a meal, or maybe didn’t see me – just saw the flashlight.

There are bears in Thailand – but probably not right there where I was. There are some wild cats – but I don’t think it would be stalking me.

Ok then – enjoy the video.

Thailand Snake Journal – Snake Hunting is Rough Lately

 

Mangrove snake in Thailand mangroves. Boiga (Cat snake). Boiga dendrophila melanota
We spent a few hours pulling these out of trees in the mangroves in southern Thailand. Great FUN! Mangrove Snake - Boiga dendrophila melanota - mildly venomous, rear fanged.

 

 

If you’re going to come herping in Thailand and you’re wondering what months not to come, I can tell you.

November – March.

By November the whole country starts cooling off. While the snakes don’t go into total hibernation for the most part, they do get awful sluggish and some don’t move for months.

If you’re paying for someone to take you herping in Thailand you are better off coming during the May – September timeframe. Even October is usually quite a bit better than November. Keep in mind that if the cool weather comes early (80’s F) the snakes will get harder to find – and sometimes impossible!

Usually I don’t go hunting for snakes in November to March – there is just no point in it. This year a number of people have been in contact with me to go herping with them, and we did spend hours in the field looking. Picture walking for hours and hours from 7pm to 10-12 midnight – prime time for snakes – and finding nothing. These spots were the most productive that I know during other months. During these months – we found scorpions, geckos, millipedes, spiders, monitors, and tree marsupials.

I’ll be doing little herping after December 10th – as that’s when the last batch of guys is coming to give it a shot. Hopefully I’ll have something to show you soon!

Cheers,

Vern

Thailand Snake Journal – Herping in November

It’s official, Thailand herping in November is damn near dead. There was some success at the beginning of the month with some guys from UK and Germany, and a guy from the USA. From about the 15th on – herping has been real rough. We’ve been out for about 15 hours over 2 nights and one day – in prime spots and found nothing to speak of. Sure we found scorpions, giant spiders, some cool geckos, and papaya sucking moths and bats, but, snakes? Skunked.

If it wasn’t for a German woman coming to tell us she just saw a wolf snake in her bungalow, in the ceiling, we’d have been completely skunked!

When I’m not herping I see more snakes. I caught a copperheaded racer and a blind snake during the last 3 days. Big whoop – right?

It’s been a tough week. It’s been so tough that these guys from the USA are going to go out on a longtail boat and catch mangrove snakes tomorrow morning. I’ll go for the ride and to shoot some video. The snake master down here – says 100% you WILL see mangrove snakes during this trip.

We’ll see! I’m not holding my breath man, it’s been a helluva week!

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]

Thailand Snake Journal – Herping Field Trip #8

Our Thai guide took us to a place that looked snakey from the start. I’d never been in this particular part of the forest, but he said he goes there to find cobras.

Our first find was after an hour of looking – one of the guys paying for the trip, Barry, found a really nice specimen of Red-Necked Keelback. These snakes are common in Thailand, but every time I see one I just love the things. This one was defensive and flared up like a cobra and showed us all the amazing colors… red, green, yellow – these are rainbow colored snakes. They are harmful only if it bites and hangs on. This one was a biter, and our Thai guide got tagged quickly. We didn’t see any break in the skin, and the snake let go as fast as it struck. We guess no envenomation – he didn’t experience any symptoms as the day wore on.

Our second found snake of the day was a small monocled cobra – Naja kaouthia, and it was a lovely black color. These snakes – at least in this locale – are at their most beautiful when they’re completely black. As they get older they turn a brownish color that isn’t all that cool.

We took it further up the path where the herpers from Australia could get good photos. It was a really stunning snake. I didn’t bring my camera because I like to focus more on the people and what they’re doing. There’s a lot of ways someone could do something stupid while herping. I can get photos anytime. Now, if we found a king cobra – that would be different… as you don’t see those in the wild on a daily or maybe even yearly basis.

After almost three hours we called it quits. There were numerous frogs and small lizards we saw on the trip. Those are always a bonus. Nobody was much interested in them – everyone had snake on the brain.

Thailand Snake Note – Recent Herping Trip

Over the last 3 days I’ve enjoyed a bit of time away from the home office to go with two great snake enthusiasts from the UK. They came over for a few days before heading south to Malaysia’s Lankawai Island.

We had some hours of cruising country roads looking for snakes crossing. At a nearby nature habitat we found a number of snakes including the Painted Bronzeback, Paradise Tree Snake, a White Lipped Viper, and a 2 meter long Mangrove Snake we literally had to pull out of the tree with the snake tongs after Tom climbed some 20 feet into the tree to reach him.

Not sure if you know or not, but we do have a video channel at YouTube that you might want to have a look at:

LIVING IN THAILAND Channel

Here is our snake only channel:

Thailand Snake Videos

Thailand Snake Note – Herping (Herpetology) Trips

I’ve been considering this for a number of months now. I am possibly going to start offering field herping here in Thailand to visitors that want to experience that amazing side of Thailand that I’ve come to know – finding all sorts of snakes and other reptiles – lizards, monitors, as well as scorpions, spiders – or whatever you happen to be into.

Thailand is a herping paradise. There are many places to look for snakes that I know of, and we can also stop off at the snake guy’s place and let you interact with some of the cobras (monocled and king), pythons, Malayan Pit Vipers, Rat Snakes, or whatever they happen to have. I also may be keeping some snakes at the time so you’d have access to those as well.

If you are planning a trip to Thailand to do some herping and, instead of flying blind you’d like me to show you some spots you’ll have the highest probability of success – you should send me an email at: [email protected] and I’ll get back with you right away.

Look for more in the coming weeks as I narrow down what exactly to offer snake enthusiasts and herpetologists on these Thailand herping trips.