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  1. #1
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    Sumocakewalk's Avatar
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    Close encounters of the cobra kind

    There's nothing like a close encounter with a cobra to add a little excitement to your day. I've had a couple of those while living in Thailand that I'd like to share with you if you are interested.

    The first one occurred in Ayutthaya at a bungalow I used to live in out in a rice farming area. While using the computer one afternoon, out the front door I noticed one of our dogs was showing great interest in one of the garden bushes, running around it and barking a lot. In that area it was quite common for us to have Asian water monitors come cruising through the yard, and I thought she may have cornered a small one, so I went to check it out.

    Knowing there are venomous snakes here I approached with some degree of caution and took a closer look. What I found was a cobra in the branches of the bush looking me straight in the face. I took a step back to make sure there was plenty of room between me and it, but as I was doing so, the dog ran around to the other side of the bush, and grabbed the cobra by the tail and flung it into the air. The cobra landed on the other side of the bush in a small clearing next to the roadside ditch. It quickly took up a coiled hood extended position facing the attacking dog. Not wanting our dog to become a victim, I did my best to get it to back off, first trying to ward it off with a bamboo pole with the cobra positioned between us. The cobra was intently following the dog's actions and ignored me, which was a good thing because I was within striking range if the snake were to turn around. The dog wouldn't back off so I ended up hurling a dirt clod at it, which finally scared it off.

    At this point, some of you might be wondering why I didn't just beat the snake with the pole. Well back in my home country before retiring to Thailand, one of my hobby's was keeping snakes and I had several pythons and a boa. I never kept venomous snakes though, making this encounter something new, and I wanted to spare the snake's life if possible. After the dog was scared off, the snake continued to focus in that direction for a few moments, but did not turn around to see what I was up to. It then lowered its head and cautiously made off for the tall grass at the side of the ditch, and that was the last we saw of it.

    Following this little adventure, I did some research to confirm what kind of snake it was, and read up on details about the typical size and habitat they're found in. Markings on the snake confirmed it was a monocled (aka Siamese) cobra. It was about a meter and a half long, the average size for an adult. Wanting to prepare for any future encounters, I also looked into ways to safely capture venomous snakes. I found some instructions for making a simple catcher from PVC pipe and cord, so I went to the local building supply and picked up the materials. It took less than an hour to assemble as the design is very simple. It consists of a length of tube about 2 meters long with PVC caps on the ends. Holes are drilled in the caps; 2 on the catching end and 1 at the end that's held. Through these holes the cord is strung, so you end up with an adjustable loop at one end and the cord extending out the other to pull on. I kept the snake catcher in a handy location ready for the next encounter.

    Fast forward 4 years and by then we've moved farther north in central Thailand where we live in a small town. A month ago, there I was at my computer again, and by this time the old dog had passed away and we've got a new one. The new dog is quite high strung and barks a lot, so I did not give it much notice at first that morning when it was making a lot of noise. After a few moments I took notice though, as it was not barking at something outside the gate as usual. Instead it was focusing its attention at the garden and a pair of large ceramic water jugs there. So I decided it might be wise to check it out. At first I thought the dog may have cornered one of the neighbor's cats as she had done before, but as I looked around one of the water jugs, instead of finding another cat, what I saw was the tail end of a snake as it made its way into a gap under one of the water jugs. At this point I recognized the color and scale pattern as being the same as the monocled cobra I encountered in Ayutthaya years before. I got very concerned because our own cat was tethered on a rope just on the other side of that water jug. We normally do not let our cat roam freely as she would likely become a road kill victim or get mauled by a Soi dog.

    So now I'm confronted with a dog that's running around in a crazy state, still trying to get at the snake, and the cat that is extremely nervous because it has seen what is lurking a short ways away under the water jug. Add to that a big toad that came out from under the jug because it didn't feel like sharing the same space with a cobra. So my first priority was to secure the dog, which took a few anxious moments to chase down and chain away from the garden. The next priority was to get the cat off the rope and get her into the house. Having accomplished that, I recalled where we stashed the snake catching tool, and got that ready.

    Now I have the dilemma of how to retrieve the snake from its hiding place under the water jug. Not wanting to take that on by myself, I grabbed my mobile and headed across the Soi to the neighbors house to get assistance. I placed a quick call to my wife at her office and explained to her what was going on, then I asked her to speak with the neighbor to enlist his help. The neighbor only speaks Thai and I don't know enough to be able to tell him what is going on. After a brief explanation, he knew what was up and followed me over to our yard. I pointed at the water jug the snake was under and gestured that we needed to somehow get to the snake.

    The neighbor headed back to his house to retrieve a long pole, and in the meantime I see the snake crawling from the other side of the water jug and heading across an open area of the garden. At this point, I've got the snake catcher in my hands and decide the time is right to try it out. So I lower the loop end gently in front of the cobra so as not to attract its attention. The snake kept on going straight toward the loop and crawled right through it. After it made its way about 15 centimeters through, I cinched down on the cord and found myself with one very startled cobra firmly attached. The cobra quickly wrapped its tail around the pole as a reflex action and turned around to face me in a hood up position.

    At this point the neighbor is just getting back to our driveway and he sees me with this cobra on the end of the pole. He got quite excited and called it by the Thai name "ngu hao". I had also grabbed a basket with a hinged and latching top, and was making motions like I wanted to try to drop the cobra into the basket, but the neighbor convinced me through his gestures that maybe this wasn't a very good idea. He also tried to show me that these cobras can spit venom so I needed to watch out for my eyes.

    I had asked my wife to tell the neighbor that I did not want to kill the snake if we could avoid it, so he did not make any attempt to try to harm it. Instead we carried it down to the end of the Soi, which has a wall at the end with a farm field on the other side. I put the pole end through a gap in the wall and released the cord. This allowed the cobra to crawl free of the loop, seemingly none the worse for wear, but hopefully a bit wiser about where it ventures.

    The neighbor, who has lived in the Soi for more than 30 years, said it had been 10 years since he had last seen one there. I was on an adrenaline high for a few hours after that encounter, and only regretted that I did not have the foresight to snap a photo while all the excitement was going on. Maybe for the next encounter I'll be able to do that. In the meantime, here's a photo of one I found on the internet on a web page that lists dangerous snakes found in Thailand. They call it a monocled cobra because of the single circular marking on the back of its hood. The monocled cobra is sometimes confused with the spectacled cobra that is found elsewhere, which has a two circular markings.



    Cobras are not the only dangerous snakes around this area, as my wife's brother was bitten by a Russell's viper less than a year ago and spent a week in hospital recovering.


  2. #2
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    Albert Shagnastier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sumocakewalk
    There's nothing like a close encounter with a cobra to add a little excitement to your day.
    Accidentally connecting yourself to the electrical mains is pretty invigorating too, and supplies a sensible buzz.

  3. #3
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    Good story, Sumo...Nice to see you want the beasts to live, whenever possible...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albert Shagnastier View Post
    Accidentally connecting yourself to the electrical mains is pretty invigorating too, and supplies a sensible buzz.
    I'll have to try that one if I get bored while waiting for the next cobra to show up...

  5. #5
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    Excellent. I've had several experiences with Indonesian spitting cobras, all of which elicited my '6-year-old-screaming-girl' side.

    Any pics of the snake catcher would be good.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by somtamslap View Post
    Any pics of the snake catcher would be good.
    I'll take a photo tomorrow when it's daylight and post again. I actually made two; one is a king cobra size and the other for smaller varieties. I used the smaller one in the case of this most recent encounter.

  7. #7
    Member cdnski12's Avatar
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    My Thai Farmer acquaintances tell me that cobras don't really like wet areas like rice paddies. They prefer drier areas ... so I am always more careful around Corn & Sugar Cane Fields. I have seen many more Banded Kraits (Nhu Sam Liam) than Cobras in Thailand. Kraits are found around Houses, Farms & Golf Courses looking for mice prey; especially around rice storage sheds. Typically they are smaller than a Cobra; but generally are much more aggressive. Nhu Sam Liam's can be ID'd by their flattened tail; which wiggle as they crawl. This is vestigial characteristic, from their Sea going ancestors. Almost all all Sea Snakes are Kraits and although extremely poisonous, almost never strike at swimmers.

  8. #8
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    Cobras like to nest in May so watch out for piles of leaves next to downed trees. I don't figure they are very friendly during this time.

  9. #9
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    Here are a few shots of the snake catchers and some details about the dimensions and construction.

    smaller size: length 142cm / 55 1/2 in, outside diameter 22mm / 7/8 in, cord 6mm / 1/4 in

    larger size: 196 cm / 77 in, outside diameter 26 mm / 1 in, cord 7mm / 5/16 in

    Choice of cord seems to make a difference as the red type on the smaller catcher is easier to use. I think that's because it has less tendency to kink and slides easier through the tube end holes. On the loop end you make the two holes with some gap in between. The cut end of the cord is passed through one hole and knotted or can be melted into a knob if its plastic. Wrapping some tape around the end might do the trick as well. The idea being to make sure the cord end keeps from pulling out but is not so big as to obstruct the cord that passes through the tube and out the other end.

    The end caps do not have to be cemented if they're a snug fit. That will allow you to take it apart later if you want to change something.






  10. #10
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    ^ very ingenious

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    So having caught your snake with said catcher what next?

    Isn't it a bit like picking up a fizzing stick of dynamite?

    All the ones I've seen used by people on TV are made from an old gold club or a larger PVC tube leading to a sack.
    No one on TD is gay. If suspect, it was probably because of the way they were reared.
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  12. #12
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    Snakes are amazing creatures and I have encountered quite a few in my native Australia including carpet snakes, copperheads, tiger, black, brown and I narrowly avoided a Taipan, the worlds deadliest snake, and rat snakes, green tree snakes, 2 huge Burmese pythons under my bridge and 2 cobras on my property in Thailand.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdnski12 View Post
    My Thai Farmer acquaintances tell me that cobras don't really like wet areas like rice paddies. They prefer drier areas ... so I am always more careful around Corn & Sugar Cane Fields. I have seen many more Banded Kraits (Nhu Sam Liam) than Cobras in Thailand. Kraits are found around Houses, Farms & Golf Courses looking for mice prey; especially around rice storage sheds. Typically they are smaller than a Cobra; but generally are much more aggressive. Nhu Sam Liam's can be ID'd by their flattened tail; which wiggle as they crawl. This is vestigial characteristic, from their Sea going ancestors. Almost all all Sea Snakes are Kraits and although extremely poisonous, almost never strike at swimmers.
    The area I live in now is drier and is used mainly for cane and some corn. I have encountered a few rat snakes and the cobra here, but so far no kraits. I'm sure they're around and sooner or later I will come across one. The Russell's viper that bit my brother in law was around the perimeter of the cane field he was preparing for harvest. These vipers can be hard to spot as they blend in quite well with their surroundings. He did not see it and when he stepped too close he was bitten on the ankle. That one was a smaller juvenile and fortunately did not inject a large amount of venom into the bite. They got him to a hospital quickly where he was treated with antivenom. His ankle and foot swelled up and turned black and blue for a few days.

    Quote Originally Posted by thailazer View Post
    Cobras like to nest in May so watch out for piles of leaves next to downed trees. I don't figure they are very friendly during this time.
    Just this morning I had to go chasing through fields and trees behind our house as our crazy dog got out of the yard and was trying to get away. I tried to keep aware of where I was stepping, but the ground cover was quite thick in places and there were piles of vegetation around. I was wearing flip flops which wasn't the smartest thing to do. That created a good opportunity for getting bitten, but luckily I didn't have a problem this time.

    Quote Originally Posted by VocalNeal View Post
    So having caught your snake with said catcher what next?

    Isn't it a bit like picking up a fizzing stick of dynamite?
    Since this was my first experience catching a venomous snake, my pulse rate was definitely way up. But the catcher worked as it should and I was confident that the cobra was secured. It's the letting go part that was creating a bit of anxiety. The prospect of putting it in the basket and then having to reach for the lid to close and latch it did not seem very safe, and that is why we opted to take it down the Soi to release it in the farm field on the other side of the wall. The snake was not behaving aggressively before capture. It just ended up in a place where it got cornered and had to be dealt with. I'm sure it would have much preferred to quietly slip away then to cause a confrontation with either a dog or people.
    Last edited by Sumocakewalk; 29-05-2014 at 12:28 PM.

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    great thread sumo..would this pic be of a krait by any chance? i did notice the tail went very flat when it was moving and i had never seen anything like that. i managed to fling it over into the rice paddy next door with a shovel



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    Quote Originally Posted by barrylad66 View Post
    great thread sumo..would this pic be of a krait by any chance? i did notice the tail went very flat when it was moving and i had never seen anything like that. i managed to fling it over into the rice paddy next door with a shovel


    Well it doesn't look like a rat snake, and with the banding it could be a krait. But I am no expert on identifying them so I can't say for certain. Hopefully some of the members that know more about kraits can help with the identification of this one. Glad to hear that you spared its life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy View Post
    Snakes are amazing creatures and I have encountered quite a few in my native Australia including carpet snakes, copperheads, tiger, black, brown and I narrowly avoided a Taipan, the worlds deadliest snake, and rat snakes, green tree snakes, 2 huge Burmese pythons under my bridge and 2 cobras on my property in Thailand.
    Since I have kept pythons before, I have been eager to find examples here in Thailand. But so far no luck other than coming across a few unfortunate cases that ended up as road kill. Some of those have been quite large and I assumed they were Burmese pythons, but I did not stop to inspect what was left of them as we drove past.

    Pythons I kept in the past were of Australian varieties; jungle carpet pythons and centralian pythons. The largest being a female jungle carpet that had beautiful markings and was about 2.5 meters long. I took this photo of her as she was draped over the motorcycle because I submitted it to a cycling forum about the time the film "Snakes On A Plane" came out. The subject of the post was "Snakes On A Motorcycle". She was a beaut, but I had to find another home for her when I decided to move to Thailand. The motorcycle was a nice Honda Interceptor that was my daily transport for a few years. Left that one behind too but wish I had it here.


  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by barrylad66 View Post
    great thread sumo..would this pic be of a krait by any chance? i did notice the tail went very flat when it was moving and i had never seen anything like that. i managed to fling it over into the rice paddy next door with a shovel


    That's a red tailed pipe snake (ngoo kon kob). Interesting snakes that raise their tail about to look like a cobra!

    I currently have a pet ball python here in BKK


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    ^
    thanks satonic. the tail was flattening out when i was trying to escort it from the premises. cool python by the way

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    Quote Originally Posted by thaicookingchef View Post
    Is it this specie ???

    Snake Antivenom for Cobra Venom, Red Cross Antivenin Treatment for Naja Kaouthia Snake
    Yes, the species name of the monocled cobra is Naja kaouthia. According to wikipedia, it is widespread across central and southern Asia regions.

  20. #20
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    ok snake aficionados, would i be correct in thinking this is a green tree viper? we had a lot of snakes seeking refuge around the house after the floods last year, and as i lent over the wall to look how much the water had come up i saw this amazing looking snake....



  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by barrylad66 View Post
    ok snake aficionados, would i be correct in thinking this is a green tree viper? we had a lot of snakes seeking refuge around the house after the floods last year, and as i lent over the wall to look how much the water had come up i saw this amazing looking snake....
    Judging by the shape of its head, I'd say it definitely is a viper of some kind. Here's a link to a web page that I use as a resource for identifying snakes in Thailand. The photo you have doesn't quite match with the photos on this particular page, but some come close.

    Snakes of Thailand - Crotalinae (Pit Vipers)

    Update:

    After some further digging on the net, your photo appears to be of a White Lipped Tree viper, which is also sometimes referred to as a White Lipped Pit Viper. Your example may be of a female, as the males tend to have a white marking that runs the length of the body. You can see a red marking at the beginning of the tail in your photo, which is a feature of this type of viper.

    Here's another link to a page that shows a photo of this type of viper that looks quite similar to yours.

    http://lizardssnakestarantulas.co.za...ed-tree-viper/

    These are common throughout Thailand according to info at the first link.

    Regarding the floods of 2011-2012, my current home is at a higher elevation so we were not directly impacted by the major flooding that occurred. However, if I was still living in Ayutthaya as before, I would have been completely inundated. I wondered as that situation was unfolding what might be happening with reptiles and other animals trying to escape the rising waters and I am sure it must have led to many interesting encounters.
    Last edited by Sumocakewalk; 29-05-2014 at 09:23 PM.

  22. #22
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    ^ Correct, that's a white lipped tree viper - Trimeresurus albolabris

    You're also correct in identifying a viper by its V shaped head


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    ^
    ^^
    thanks again. i did do a little research and it did resemble a tree viper. thanks for the links. as for the floods it was in prachin last year, and about a day after the photo was taken we had bail out of the house and go and stay in korat for a week!

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