There are over 230 different species of snake found in Thailand. So it is fairly safe to say that wherever you go in Thailand there will always be a snake nearby. This might put some people off, but what you must remember is that it is very unlikely you will be bitten or even encounter a snake unless you well and truly leave the ‘beaten track’. Most snakes will avoid human contact whenever possible. It has been said that on average only 2% of tourists will come across a snake in the wild while visiting Thailand.
Over the time that I have been exploring the lesser known areas of Khao Lak, I have come across wild snakes on several occasions. The main thing to remember is to be aware that they are there. Keep your eyes open and try not to disturb them. Most snakes are not the bloodthirsty killing machines that the movies would leave you to believe. Given space and a bit of respect, almost all snakes will either ignore you or slither away. Here are a few that I have found over the years…
Mangrove Pit Viper
These snakes can come in many variations of colour – grey, green, yellow, purple, brown. They are usually found near water or in very wet areas along the shoreline with salty water. Males can grow up to about 60cm long, whereas females often reach around 90cm in length. They will feed on lizards, frogs and other small animals. Sometimes even small birds and eggs.
Although they are not usually very active during the hot daylight hours, they can become easily agitated and take a very long time to calm down.
If they were to strike, their strikes are very fast but have only a short reach. They do not administer venom with every strike, however caution is advised. Though some people have died as a result of being bitten by these snakes, it is not common. Symptoms of being bitten are more commonly – pain, severe swelling, blistering and necrosis (tissue damage). In case of getting bitten antivenom is recommended.
These snakes are known to be among the longest snakes in the world. They typically average 1.5 – 6.5 meters. However, they have reached lengths of over 10 meters. Pythons are non-venomous constrictor snakes. Meaning they will use their strong bodies to wrap around their prey and squeeze to cause ultra-high blood pressure or suffocation in their prey, rather than injecting venom. Pythons can dislocate their jaws to enable them to swallow their prey whole. As they grow, the size of their prey will get larger also. Starting with small animals such as lizards and frogs all the way up to larger animals such as pigs, sheep and goats. They can often survive for months on a single meal.
They are found all over Thailand but are most commonly found near water. They are primarily nocturnal (come out mostly at night) however they are found in the day time if disturbed or sleeping at low levels.
Banded Mangrove Snake
Although this snake is mostly nocturnal (comes out mostly at night), they can often be found resting in trees along the waterline. They can grow up to about 2.5 meters long and can be identified by their vivid yellow stripes. These snakes are found all over South East Asia. Although they are venomous, they are not considered a danger to humans. If bitten the venom can cause pain, swelling and discomfort but is not normally fatal.
These snakes are often kept as pets by snake enthusiasts or used in snake shows throughout Thailand. They prey on small animals such as frogs, lizards, fish or eggs.
Of all the snake species in Thailand, this is among the most dangerous. Their venom is so strong that these snakes cause more fatalities than any other snake in Thailand. Anyone who receives even a small bite from these snakes should seek expert medical help immediately. Before striking often they will give a loud warning hiss.
They will usually grow to lengths of about 1.5-2 meters and are found all over Thailand. They are often found also in residential areas where they will prey on rodents, lizards, birds, frogs and other snakes.