wildlife in paradise city ...
As Hua Hin is located quite centrally in Thailand, it is home to numerous species of snake. In total, there are some 60+ varieties in Thailand. Most are found all over the country, whilst others are localised in the north and south and not found in Hua Hin. However, over 40 can be resident either in Hua Hin or in outlying areas, so it's important to be aware of them. If you spend any amout of time here, you're sure to come across one at some point.
Not all are poisonous and the strength of venom varies considerably from species to species. Some are extremely toxic and medical attention must be sought immediately, whilst others inject only a small ammount of weak poison and other than a bite resulting in painful swelling, there is no real risk to humans. Others still are totally harmless.
Temperaments are changeable as well. Some snakes are known for their aggression and will strike with very little provocation. Others (even poisonous ones) are shy and retiring and really do need a good reason to attack you.
On the whole, it is a good general rule that snakes are not interested in humans. They do not feed on us, preferring small mammals and amphibians instead, so a snake bite is usually the result of provocation by you, surprise on the snake's behalf (ie you've stepped on it), threats to its well-being and disturbing an adult with its young. You're more likely to come across snakes at night when they hunt. During the day, they rest and only if you disturb one are you likely to see it.
They cannot hear, so if you are in an area where there might be snakes, say on a golf course, it's wise to carry a golf club or length of wood with you to beat the ground, especially if you're venturing into long grass. A snake's sense of feel is highly developed and the vibrations the "beating" causes will make most snakes scurry off before you even see them.
If you are unlucky enough to be bitten, here are some dos and don'ts. Firstly, unless you are 100% certain that the snake is non-venomous, assume the worst and get medical attention as soon as possible. Always try to identify the snake - its colour, shape of head and size etc - as this will help doctors give you the necessary antivenom. If at all possible, try to bring the dead snake along with you, although this will not always be practical. You must immobilise the part of the body that has been bitten, as often as not the leg and try to keep the victim as calm as possible. Any increase in pulse rate will only spread the poison more rapidly. DO NOT attempt to suck the venom out or cut the wound with a knife. These actions will only lead to more damage. Try to clean and cover the wound to prevent secondary infections and if there is no chance to get the victim to medical facilities within 30 minutes, apply a touriquet, but be careful not to to apply pressure to the wound and only do so if you are confident about applying it correctly.
There are plenty of snakes around Hua Hin - you can get them in your garden and they will also venture into the centre of town occasionally. However, please do try and remember that many species are endangered nowadays and if you treat your encounter with one correctly, you will have virtually no chance of being bitten. Even if you are, antivenoms are so effective these days, very few bites result in death.
We have listed below the types of snake you can find around Hua Hin with photographs to help you identify them and an indication of how dangerous they can be.
Cobras are renowned as extremely poisonous snakes and the bite will be fatal if medical attention is not received quickly. There are a number of varieties. The common, or monocled cobra (pirctured) is normally active at night and they can climb and swim. When threatened, they rise up and spread their necks. As long as you remain calm, they will usually leave you alone.
King cobras are again mainly nocturnal and can swim and climb. They are large, with an average size of 400-450 cms and can move extremely quickly when standing erect. Despite reports to the contrary, they are not aggressive and will nomally flee from you.
There are two types of spitting cobra - the Indochinese and the Equitorial. Both are deadly and can spit venom up to a distance of 3m into an attacker's eyes. Needless to say, this can result in extreme damage, particularly to the corneas.
Kraits are also found around Hua Hin. They are nocturnal and actually shun daylight. There are two types common to the locality - the Banded (pictured) and the Malayan or Blue. Normally living near water, both are non-aggressive and will usually only strike when threatened. The venom is highly dangerous and fatal.
Sea snakes can be found around all Thailand's coastal areas and river mouths. They only come on shore to lay eggs, will bite if provoked and are regarded as semi-poisonous. Please note that no antivenom is yet available.
Vipers are all too common around Hua Hin and their aggressiveness, size of fangs and strength of poison makes them one of the most dangerous species in the country. There are a number of different types - the Chain and the Malayan Pit (pictured) are extremely venomous and immediate medical attention is necessary. There are 9 types of green viper all of which are poisonous, but the venom is not too strong and serums are available for all. The bite of these will result in a lot of pain and possible necrosis, but rarely leads to death.
Two more need to be mentioned - the Pope's and Mangrove pit vipers. The first is very dangerous as well as aggressive and quick-moving. The second is also aggressive, but the venom is not too toxic and extreme pain is the only normal result of a bite.
There is a whole host of snakes around Hua Hin that present no threat whatsoever to humans. However, they can be mistaken for poisonous varieties and, more importantly, the other way round. Some have fangs and can inflict a painful bite and secondary infections are possible. They can also be aggressive which makes up for their lack of venom. The most common are pythons, pipe snakes, worm snakes, sunbeam snakes, whip snakes (pictured), cat snakes (although very mildly poisonous and non-aggressive), golden tree snakes (again slightly poisonous, but no real threat), bronzebacks, bridle snakes, rat snakes and wolf snakes.