Are Thailand Snakes Dangerous to Visitors?

A deadly Thailand snake, the red-headed krait (Bungarus flaviceps). These are extremely rare.
A deadly Thailand snake, the red-headed krait (Bungarus flaviceps). These are extremely rare.

I often receive email from people that are deathly afraid of venomous and other snakes in Thailand. Some people refuse to visit the country after finding a website like ThailandSnakes.com. They get the idea that snakes are rampant all over Thailand and that they are unavoidable. The truth is much different. You are not likely to see any snakes in Thailand during your visit. Even if you go looking for them, snakes are difficult to locate. The other night I went out for over three hours in the heart of snake country, and still didn’t find any snake.

Anyway, here is an email I just sent to someone to help allay fears of snakes in Thailand.

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Hi Brian,

Snakes are really about the least harmful things you could ever come across for a couple of reasons…

1. They have no legs or arms. They are basically a long tail. They cannot move fast on the ground, I mean fast in comparison to humans. We can easily outrun any snake that exists.

2. Only the very large pythons in Thailand might target a human being as prey. Everything else gets away as fast as possible – even when confronted.

3. There are about 8 deaths per year due to venomous snake bite in Thailand. Probably every one of them are plantation workers that get bitten, apply some “magical salve” made of ground leaves and roots, and then, when they realize their foot or hand is gangrenous – go to the hospital too late. Occasionally a snake handler is bitten and dies – they tease the snakes mercilessly, day after day, and eventually a snake gets in a lucky bite.

4. You have to really piss snakes off before most of them will bite… or, be too close. So, don’t get close and don’t aggravate them.

I have never heard of a tourist, visitor, foreigner, being bitten by and killed by a deadly snake in Thailand. People have cobras in their yard, vipers, whatever else… the snakes do NOT want to see humans and will get away at every opportunity.

Just be cautious walking in grass outside. Don’t walk anywhere you cannot see where your feet are stepping.

If you see a snake in your yard – grab a photo, send it to me, and I’ll let you know if it was venomous. If so, and you see it again and can watch where it goes – call the EMS or police in your area, and they’ll know the snake guys that can come take it away for you.

If you’re bitten by a snake, stay calm and go to the hospital. Venom usually takes hours before you’re debilitated. Wait to see if symptoms even develop. A good portion of bites don’t include envenomation. They are dry bites, so to speak. Little or no venom is released through the fangs during a dry bite. There have been studies done with cobras and vipers that show that 30-50% of bites are dry bites, even when the snake is directly stepped on.

Hope this helps. I’ll repost it at the thailandsnakes.com site. Maybe it will help someone else relax a bit about snakes here.

Cheers,

Vern L.

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