Snake Identificationsnake research

Are There MANY Snakes in Thailand?

I just went back and counted up how many times people in Thailand submitted a Snake ID request through the form on the right side column link.

478 times in 10 months. That’s a lot of people seeing snakes, but really is just a tiny fraction of everyone that sees snakes in Thailand. Some don’t need me to identify them, others don’t think to go find out what it was. Still others don’t see the snake clearly enough to give a good description on the form.

Out of those 478, I probably ID’ed the snake correctly in about 20% of the cases. Not because I instantly know the right one, but because I list multiple snakes – that I hope are researched by the one that submitted the Thailand snake ID request.

It’s very difficult to identify a snake based on color and size alone. Time of day helps. Where it was found – in a tree, in rafters in a house, in the fresh or salt water – all help.

You know what REALLY helps? Photos.

With a photo – we can at least nail it down to 2-3 snakes it must be, or probably is… almost always we can say whether it is dangerous or deadly or not.

So, about 50 times per month we get a form submitted. Almost 2 per day. Can you imagine how many hundreds of people in Thailand will see a snake today? Maybe even 1,000 people across this country of nearly 60 million residents and another million or so visitors here at any one time.

That’s a lot of snakes.

Still, with all of those sightings – not very many people die from snake bites. From the Malayan Pit Viper or one of the kraits – usually less than or around 10 deaths per year each. That’s not too bad. It’d be nice if it was “0” – but, the world isn’t perfect, right?

If you come to Thailand on vacation – would you see likely see a snake?

No. I think maybe 1-2% of all tourists see a snake in Thailand, staying here for a week. Just a guess, but I don’t think it’s more. Heck, it takes me a serious effort usually before I can see a snake.

Yesterday I was lucky and had a red-necked keelback go across my motorbike path. I was able to stop and grab her and transport her to a local heavy forest area where she had less chance of being struck by a speeding vehicle.

You must go looking for snakes to find them – as  a rule in Thailand and all over southeast Asia. They are not as common as birds, bugs, or bees.

Don’t fear Thailand because of snakes – you’ll probably never see one unless you go herping and looking for them specifically!

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One Comment

  1. Well, tourists may not see snakes here, but on my very first holiday to Thailand, 6 years ago, I got bitten by a snake on my last day on vacation. Have no idea what snake it was, I only know that I stepped on in, bare-footed, and it bit me in my toe. First thought in my brain was, what the hell am I stepping on, and within a fraction of a second, the bite came. It felt like stepping on a small rubber hose. It must have been 2-3 cm in diameter, so it was a pretty thing snake. Anyway, the bite – It hurt like hell, and I was rushed off to the hospital by the staff. It was totally dark, which is why I did not see the snake, and therefore, I could also not identify it.

    Imagine how scared I was, lying there in the emergency room, Thai people all around me, not understanding what they are saying – Ripping my shirt of, drawing my blood, and at the same time, coming over with a big poster with one deadly snake after the other on it, asking me to point out the one that bit me. I thought I was going to die :)

    And – As you know, if you’re not able to identify the snake that bit you, you cannot get any anti venom as it’s made from the snakes own poison. So, they could do nothing but wait to see what happened to me. I was hospitalized. My foot grew 3 times in size and it hurt like hell. I was under constant observation, and I was on a intravenous painkiller. But still, it hurt. Hurt like HELL!

    Doctor said, that they had no idea what snake bit me, but they could tell it was poisonous. It might have been lucky that the snake did not inject all it’s poison into me, or that it had just used it’s poison killing some rodent. Who knows, but fact it, I was very lucky.

    24 hours later though, I was allowed to go back to the hotel. The staff from the hotel were very nice and all of them very sorry – It was, after all, at their place I got bitten. They even paid my hospital bill, even though I told them, that I had insurance, and could pay it my self. Oh well, after a few days, I was back in Denmark and my foot was back to normal.

    To this day, I still don’t know what snake bit me – I only know that it hurt. And, learn from me. Don’t walk bare-footed in grassy areas at night! :)

    So now that I live in Thailand, I see a lot more snakes that I would actually care for. But I live in an area where they are commonly found. I actually saw one this morning, he was heading under my gate with a mouse or rat in his mouth. He saw me, and we had a stare-down for a few seconds, before I stamped my feet into the ground and scared him away. Thanks to this page, I think I was able to determine that it must have been a Rat Snake – So, not dangerous (if it really was a Rat Snake) – But still, don’t like Snakes in my garden, and my dogs are stupid enough to take them on. My girlfriend once had to fend for the lives of the dogs when they went up against a King Cobra – Oh my, lucky me I wasn’t there :)

    Anyway! Just wanted to drop a comment :)

    Btw; There’s 65 million people here in Thailand, not 60… :)

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