Thailand Snake Note – Bitten by Snake?

If you are bitten by a snake in Thailand or anywhere in Southeast Asia, and you don’t KNOW that it is a non-venomous snake:

1. Find someone to help you get to the hospital immediately – don’t wait for symptoms and don’t drive yourself.

Emergency Numbers:

1155 – Tourist Police – English speaking; 191 – Thai police nationwide; 1669 – Ambulance nationwide; 1646 Bangkok ambulance.

If you have some time between when your ride leaves (like waiting for ambulance):

2. Clean wound with water. Be gentle, don’t scrub harshly especially if the wound burns intensely. If you know the snake that bit you was a viper – do not touch the wound site, just rinse with water.

3. This next part (#3a) is if you know what kind of snake it is. Go straight to #3b if you don’t know positively which snake bit you.

3a. If the snake that bit you is a pit viper – any green viper, or the brown Malayan pit viper or Russel’s Viper (Chain Viper), just rinse the area with water. Don’t touch it, just let it bleed out some if you can. If great amounts of blood – apply a light pressure to stop the bleeding, of course. Ideally you don’t want to wrap a viper bite with a compression bandage, it can cause more damage.

3b. If you do NOT KNOW what type of snake it was that bit you, Immediately apply a pressure bandage or wrap a piece of clean dry cloth around the bite site as well as above and below the bite by a few inches. This is essential for krait, coral, and cobra bites. Elastic wraps that you use for ankle sprains work well. Wrap it snugly, but you should still be able to put a finger under the bandage.

4. Stay as still as possible. Tell someone or write down what you can remember about the snake – color? thickness? pattern? Was it in a tree? On ground? Identifying the snake is very important so you get the right antivenin, if one is needed.

5. Antivenin is given after you start to have symptoms, not before. Some bites are “dry bites” and inject no venom.

Caution… anti-venin (also called anti-venom) OFTEN causes severe allergic reaction. This allergic reaction can be deadly in some cases. Get good advice on the necessity of anti-venin before it is administered. The doctors should do a test to see if you’re allergic to it first before full-scale administration of anti-venin. Insist on it.

Here is how the test is administered (from Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, Bangkok: “Since the antivenin is prepared from horse serum, sensitization to heterologous protein may occur in some individuals. To avoid serious allergic reactions, skin test should be performed prior to the administration by injection of 0.02 ml of 1:100 antivenin dilution intradermally. It should be noted that the skin test may not predict the anaphylaxis nor delay serum sickness reactions.”

Do Not:

  • Suck the poison out or use any devices to suck out the venom, it can cause more damage to tissue if it is a viper bite.
  • Use a tourniquet
  • Use ice over the wound
  • Drink alcohol, food, or use aspirin – Paracetamol is OK for pain, better if you take nothing before going to the hospital.
  • Use herbal remedies


Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, Thai Red Cross Society,
Bangkok, Thailand (662) 252-0161-4; [email protected]

Some information was collected from various what we think are legitimate sources of emergency information regarding snake bite.

If you want to dispute these steps – please send email to: [email protected]

Once you identify the snake that bit you – here is some more information by snake name – scientific classification:

AFPMB – Database of Venomous Animals and Plants (click)

Here is the database listing venomous snakes by country:

AFPMB Database of Snakes by Country (click)

About Vern Lovic

All posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, coral snakes, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species with more than 70 of them venomous and dangerous to humans.

9 thoughts on “Thailand Snake Note – Bitten by Snake?”

  1. Hi, I’m a medic with the Australian Army currently training with the Thai’s in Chiang Rai, thank you for this site as it helped to confirn best treatment for Thai snake bite, exactly the same as management in Australia.
    Much appreciated

    1. Hi Steph, please be careful about taking what I’ve written as the authority on what is the right and wrong way to treat snake bites. I am not any sort of authority. I’ve taken what I’ve read and written these articles. I think they are accurate, but of course many people have different ideas about the proper treatment for bites from different snakes. There are many things to take into consideration – as you probably know. I suggest consulting the Saovabha Snake Farm in Bangkok – also called the Red Cross Snake Farm in Bangkok. They are the venom experts and can likely provide you with a more accurate idea of how Thais treat snake bites in the country. Thanks. Vern

  2. “2. Clean wound with water. Be gentle, don’t scrub harshly.”

    Quick question: Won’t that render a Venom Detection Kit useless in identifying the type of snake that bit you? Or is a VDK not used in Thai hospitals?

    1. Great question Chris… and I don’t know. I think it would depend on the hospital as there is a very large range of poor to great hospitals in Thailand. Best to write or call the Red Cross Snake Farm in Bangkok at the Queen Saovabha facility and ask if it is supposed to be standard procedure if you need to know..

  3. During my younger years, my Dad was working in a hospital in India for a six month visit. I was bitten by a Cobra (I don’t remember the type). I am moving to Chiang Mai in June 2012 to help with a local orphanage. What would my chances of a repeat bite be? Can you offer any preventative steps or safety tips? Thatnks, Mike in the USA.

    1. Hi Mike,

      Your chances are a couple of million to one. Don’t worry, you won’t even likely SEE a cobra. Cobras do appear to like kitchens… outdoor kitchens too. They are like all snakes – hide under things. They’re on the ground usually, but can climb bushes.

      Did you have much problem from the bite, or was it ‘dry’ – no venom?



    1. Someone posted that the animal rescue groups would be the best people to research in your area. Google that and see if you can get in touch with someone. If you do, let me know so I can post it here on the resources page – if you would. Cheers!

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