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Voluntary service for snake relocation

protection, education

conservation

medical treatment 

 

Conservation by Education

You must unlearn what you have learned!!!

Yeah! You’ve got me there. I was also a big Star Wars fan.

The point is that most of us humans got wrong education over the past generations.
There are old books just like the bible, who’ve spread wrong believes to people all over the world until today. And certainly humans didn’t know much about reptiles many hundreds if not thousands of years ago. In the past 30 years people started to do a lot of research, and tried to understand the spatial ecology of a few species, and their behavior. In the end they found out very exciting stuff…

If reptiles would wear pants, they would perhaps pee them all the time. That’s not a joke!
If you catch wild snakes, they often urinate all over the place. They don’t want to hurt us.
They don’t want to fight us. They just want to be left alone, and get away.  To them we’re just huge terrifying predators, and they seem to know that they have not many options to survive an attack by us. Retreat or die! But if we don’t give them chance to escape, a bite will be the last resort. So, please don’t try to hurt or kill them. Let them retreat, and you’ll see. Nobody will get hurt.

Therefore the only logical way to convince humans of not killing reptiles can be education.


Presentation in Si Ri Panya International School


Presentation on a Charity Event at Tiki Beach Club Resort

We need to unlearn this nonsense of the holy book, the mainstream media, or even of our anxious parents and grand parents. And then we need to learn what these creatures are, and also what they want from us. Actually nothing! Just a peaceful neighborhood with us. We could easily learn how to live together with cobra nd co.
Nobody needs to get hurt or killed!

Snakes… yes, even the venomous ones… are not our enemies.  As predators, or even apex predators they’re very important for a healthy ecosystem. And we humans need a healthy ecosystem too.

What are apex predators? And what’s their purpose?

Apex predators serve to keep numbers of other predators or herbivores in check.
By weeding out the slow, weak, and dying animals, they increase the health of the population as a whole. However, they actually do much more than that. Left to their own devices, a herd of herbivores, like a deer, will stay in one place, eating everything down to the ground before they move on. However, a healthy predator population (such as our indigenous Reticulated Pythons) will keep a herd (or a population) moving around, looking for cover, and generally trying not to get eaten. This improves the health of the ecosystem as a whole. It leaves smaller plants and grasses for smaller herbivores, prevents erosion, and allows more saplings to mature. This reduces run-off into rivers and streams which in turn reduces flood damage. All of these things are linked to the health and movement of the large prey species.

Phangan has 3 natural terrestrial apex predators. The Asian Water Monitor (Varanus Salvator), the Reticulated Python (Python/Broghammerus Reticulatus) and our majesty (Ophiophagus Hannah). – (images below are in the same order)

They are actually all worldwide protected animals. This also applies for Thailand by the way.

While we can still often find water monitor lizards in creeks, back water ponds or brackish river mouths at the coast, and pythons almost everywhere even close to humans, the King already experiences an enormous decline by habitat loss, deforestation, and human killing, because of superstitious believe and fears, or by poaching for their bushmeat… Continue reading “Conservation by Education”

We can peacefully coexist with Cobras and Dragons

Harmless Cobra Strike

After my 2 days absence I found posts with the question about the chance to get bitten by cobras on our island again.

Well! I bet you will rather die by motorbike accident or any other causes. And according to our hospital statistics we have just 3 cobra bites per year tops. In contrast to these very low case numbers our hospitals got reports of at least 3 dog bites per week. And these injuries are even more severe than cobra bites given that the bite victims got antivenom treatment in time. Dogs bite people just because they cross their territory. Cobras never do that! They rather retreat. And if they don’t see a chance to retreat, they will just show their famous defense display. They will hood and watch us until we back off. If we don’t heed the warning, and even come closer, they will stay ground and mock an attack, and try to maintain what we call “social distancing”.

Here is another nice video clip of my favorite herpetologist Rom Whitaker of either great the bbc documentary “One Million Snake Bites”.

This time with a close relative of our Monocled Cobra (Naja Kaouthia), the Indian or Spectacled Cobra (Naja Naja).

The video was shot with high speed camera, to prove the fact that cobras rarely strike in purpose to kill humans. But do your math!

King Cobra Encounter with Rom Whittaker

Today I want to show you a nice demonstration of Rom Whitaker, one of my favorite herpetologists and reptile conservationists.
People often ask me, how they should react, if they have an unexpected encounter with cobras. And I hear often, that I must be completly nuts to handle aggressive cobras.
But true Cobras of the family Naja, or the biggest hooded venomous snake of the world, the King Cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah) aren’t really aggressive. They just get an extreme adrenalin kick, and are extremely scared. But do the math! This clip of the BBC documentary 1 Million Snake Bites shows Rom with a wild aprox 3.5m long King Cobra. Please don’t try to get in a situation like this by yourself, as long you don’t have experience with venomous snakes. But if you get accidently in a situation like this, remind yourself on this clip, and try to do exactly the same. Don’t move! Just wait.

Asian Water Monitor Lizard the monks best friend

In Thailand some people still eat them. Some believe they bring bad luck. They call them even “the damned”(Hia). I think this monk makes it clear folks. Monitor Lizards are the primates of the reptile world. Once they make friends to humans they can be faithful friends just like dogs or rather like cats, because they have also their own life, and are not dependent from us. But once socialized they become very curious , and like to hang around with us.

An amazing documentary of the anatomy of our in Thailand more and more rare getting Burmese Python (Python Bivittatus), the next related to our famous Monty, the Reticulated Python. Burmese Pythons got once imported as pets in the US, and released to the wild by people who got overwhelmed by it’s size, and issues to get enough food for such a big animal. Now he is threatening wildlife in the everglades as a top predator. As an understandable result pythons aren’t very popular over there. That’s why they’re allowed to hunt and kill them. I wished humans would be that consequent with other pests of more popular animals. But unfortunately pythons don’t have fur. Anyway… check out, how amazingly evolution has equipped this fantastic creature for it’s successful survival.

A marvel of mother nature.

A short video teaser of a soon airing BBC documentary of the snake research teams at Sakaerat Biosphere Research Centre of the Sakaerat Biosphere Reserve .

The teams do most commonly research about behavior on King Cobras and True Cobras in the north of Thailand.

How do I recognize venomous snakes?

Since I do Reptile Rescue on the island, I had many chats with people after snake encounters, or also with people who just wanted to know in general, how to behave in such situations. And how to distinguish venomous from non-venomous snakes.

The perception, that most people even rather consider to live beside or with snakes, than removing or even killing them, makes me insanely happy. I’m glad to find so many real nature lovers on Phangan. Most people even change their mind after an educational chat, and let harmless non venomous snakes roam in their house, just like geckos. But of course they need to be 100% sure, that these mostly little intruders don’t cause any harm to their beloved ones. That fact posed me the question, how I can help everyone, to identify and distinguish deadly venomous snakes from similar appearing non-venomous snakes.

That’s why I decided to make this page with all venomous snakes who could at least in theory be indigenous on Phangan. And for comparison I will show you their non-venomous not entirely same looking copy cats.

Let’s start with the 3 deadly venomous snakes, whose existence is approved today.

  1. The Monocled Cobra (Naja Kaouthia)
  2. The King Cobra or Snake Eater (Ophiophagus Hannah)
  3. The Small Spotted Coral Snake (Calliophis maculiceps)

To number 3 I will come back later…. I didn’t find any good copy cat shots yet.

Instead I come to our first copy cat of mentioned no. 1 and no. 2,  the Indochinese Rat Snake (Ptyas Korros)

These 3 snake species variate so extremely in their appearance, people often get confused between N. Kaouthia, Ptyas Korros and the Ophiophagus Hannah, who likes to eat the 2 first mentioned species. If you have the chance to look closer, like on the images, you can see the difference in eye size and the size of the facial scales. If it comes to distinguish color and pattern, it will be difficult even on pictures, because it changes depending on temperature, and also in each individual. They can be brown, olive green, khaki, grey or even black. All 3 have also sometimes marks like spots or speckles. Or even thin bands. So always be careful. The safest way to find out the copy cat, would be to corner it, and see, if it shows us a hood. Rat Snakes don’t do hoods. They blow up the throat vertically. We have some other snakes, who also make hoods in Thailand. But they’re lethal venomous too. It’s for example the Red Necked Keelback (Rhabdophis subminiatus). But as the name reveals, it will show us a red neck hood.

 

Then we got proof of existence for Bungarus Candidus, the Malayan Krait. Two snakes always cause confusion. The Wolf Snake of the family Lycodon, and the Bridle Snake of the family Dryocalamus. The difference you can see, if you have a closer look on heads and tails.

 

Books are showing us the existence of the Banded Krait, Bungarus Fasciatus. But it seems to me, that this type didn’t make it to Phangan. Even the local rescue Service couldn’t confirm any encounters with this impressing snake. This time we have a copy cat of the family Boiga. The Cat Snakes. In this case it’s the Mangrove (Cat) Snake. The yellow bands of the Boiga Dendrophila are much more narrow, than the bands of B. Fasciatus.

 

Another copy cat of the Cat Snake family would be Boiga Cyanea, The Green Cat Snake. In first second it looks really like a White Lipped Pit Viper. But have a closer look in her eyes. And also lips and nose are totally different. Not just in color. Also the shape reveals the dodger.

Note:  On the image above I typed the wrong name for the snake on the left . It’s certainly not a white lipped pit viper.  Because they have yellowish eyes. It’s a large scaled pit viper. But it regards the same. It’s not indigenous on Phangan)

 

And we have two more “actors”. The Longnosed Whip Snake (Ahaetulla Nasuta), and the Red Tailed Racer (Gonyosoma Oxycephalum). First mentioned causes confusion because of it’s very similar color, and depending on the viewing angle, the head also looks triangular, like a viper head. But the eyes reveal the main difference. The pupils of Ahaetulla are horizontal, not vertical, like the pupils of Crytelitrops or Trimeresurus Albolabris or Macrops, the White Lipped Pit Viper and Big Eyed Pit Viper.

 

First aid for snake bites

After most expats or tourists hear, that we have venomous snakes on the island, it obviously begs the question of how they should proceed in case of a snake or bengal monitor lizard bite. Both mentioned cases may not happen  very often, as we barely get in contact with these very fast and intelligent creatures. And they would also never attack us, as long we don’t corner them. But in case it happens some day, and you’re not sure if the snake was venomous or not, you should always go to the hospital just in case. The first address for people on Phangan is the Phangan Hospital on the images above. They have enough antivenin to send you safely to the Bangkok Hospital at Samui, where they have enough antivenin to get you back on track.

 

Displaying King Cobra antivenin.jpgDisplaying Cobra antivenin.jpg

Here now the first aid leaflet, which I’ve nicked from Dr. . Of course with his kind permission. Thank you at this point!

1. Keep the patient calm and reassure him. Please note that 70% of snake bites are caused by non-venomous snakes and of the rest 30%, only half of them would have features of envenomation.
 
2. Keep the patient quiet. Don’t move the site of the bite. If the bite is on the arm, put a splint. If on the leg, splint the limb and don’t allow the patient to walk. There is no advantage of putting a tight tourniquet proximal to the site of bite, rather it would do harm.
 
3. Go as soon as possible to a hospital which has ASV available. Use whatever means of transport is available.
 
4. It is harmful to put nicks or cuts on or around the bite site. It is also not advisable to wash the wound. Both these practices ensures that the venom spreads fast all over the body.
 
5. Please note that even after you reach the hospital, treatment with Anti-snake venom is started only when signs/evidence of venom envenomation is noted. It is dangerous to inject Anti-snake venom without signs/evidence of envenomation.
 
6. It is good to be kept under medical observation for 12-24 hours after the bite. There are some snakes like Krait where the symptoms of envenomation may be observed only after 6-24 hours.
 
7. It is better to keep a snake bite victim nil per orally until the doctor allows to eat orally.
 
8. Please remove ornaments like rings, bangles, wrist bands etc. if any near the bite site as swelling of the bite site can cause problems with their removal later.  
 By the way… Dr.  did some very interesting writings about his snake bite treatments on patients in his hospital in India. Do the math by clicking on his name!
Yet I didn’t find any spitting cobras on Phangan, which doesn’t mean that we could have an encounter with this beautiful snake someday.  But I have to warn you anyway. Especially for the safety of your pets. Especially cats and dogs often don’t take heed of their warning, and approach them frontal with below a half meter distance. Our Monocled Cobra and the huge King Cobra can also spray venom, if they get too nervous. As long you keep safety distance, you have nothing to worry. They can’t shoot it over long distance, like the Spitting Cobra.  But they loose venom while they gasp from fear.
If this happens to your pet or even to yourself, please rinse your eyes with water. If you don’t do anything, it can cause enormous damage on the cornea, and often ends with a purulent infection. And an untreated infection can even lead to death.
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