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Thai Snakes

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A Quick Snake Joke

Bruce and Bluey are in the middle of nowhere, prospecting, and setting up camp for the evening. Bruce sets up a fireplace to cook dinner, and Bluey ducks around behind some bushes for a slash.
Half a minute later there's a yelp and Bluey screams "Bruce! help! I've been bitten by a bleedin' snake! Broooce!"
Bruce charges over and catches a look at the snake slithering away, and Blue holding his crotch, whimpering.
"Crikey, Blue! Where'd the bleeder get you?"
Bluey moves his hands, looking scared, and points to the bite marks on the tip of his penis, which is starting to swell and discolour.
"Stone the crows! Got ya right on the knob! Aw jeeze!"
"Bruce, get on the radio and get the flying doctor out here, mate. I'm not feeling too flash."
So Bruce races back to the camp, fires the radio up, tells the doctor his mate's been bitten by a snake.
The doctor asks him to describe the snake, which he does.
Then the doctor sez, "OK Bruce, listen carefully. We can't get there in time, I'm afraid, otherwise I wouldn't recommend this, but it's the only way to save your friend. You've got to open the bite up with a sharp knife or razor, and then suck all the poison out, and suck a bit more, until you're just spitting out blood. Then you've got to put iodine or condeese crystals on it, and bind it up tight. Keep him warm, and make sure he keeps breathing."
"Strewth, doc, is that the only way?"
"I'm afraid so. Now get onto it straight away. Minutes count, here."
So Bruce races back to where Bluey's lying on the ground, sweating, looking pale and anxious. Bluey says, "Did you get onto him? Is he coming? What'd he say,Bruce?"
" He said, you're gonna die Bluey mate."

The following snakes can be found in the wilds of Thailand and also at the following Thai zoos, Dusit Zoo, Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo, Chiang Mai Zoo and Song Khla Zoo, all are very cheap to enter and have a wide variety of animals.

Monocled Cobra (Thai: Ngu how mo, ngu hao hom)

Scientific Name: Naja Kaouthia
General Characteristics : Its body scales are smooth and arranged in 1921 (usually 21) longitudinal rows at mid-body. The throat is pale, with scarcely any dark mottling, often followed by a single dark band. The ventro-lateral throat spots are distinct, the remainder of the venter is either pale or increasingly cloudy with darker pigmentation towards the rear. In adults, hood markings are usually distinct, usually a pale, oval or circular marking, with a dark center and occasionally a narrow dark outer border. Occasionally one or two dark spots are present in the pale oval. Fangs not modified for spitting, and the venom discharge orifice is large. Ventral scales number 164196 and subcaudal scales 4358. Total length 1500 mm; tail length 230 mm larger specimens have been recorded, but they are rare.
Habitat / Food : Monocled cobras are distributed throughout Thailand. They are found up to elevations of 1,000 m above sea level, and prefer habitats associated with water, such as paddy fields, swamps, and mangroves, but are also found in grasslands, shrublands, and forests, in agricultural land and human settlements, including cities.
Behavior / Mating : They are most active at dusk and night, but are also found basking during daytime. They prey on a wide range of animals, such as rodents, toads, lizards, birds and their eggs, sometimes even their own species. The venom of this species consists mainly of neurotoxin. Symptoms include headache, nausea and disorientation. The female lays about 2545 eggs. The offspring are independent as soon as they are born.

Reticulated Python (Thai: Ngu leuam)

Scientific Name: Python reticulatus
General Characteristics : Adults can grow to a length of more than 8.7 m and are the world's longest snakes. However, they are relatively slim for their length and are certainly not the most heavily built. The color pattern is a complex geometric pattern that incorporates different colors. The back typically has a series of irregular diamond shapes which are flanked by smaller markings with light centers. In this species' wide range, much variation of size, color, and markings commonly occurs. In zoo exhibits the color pattern may seem garish, but in a shadowy jungle environment amid fallen leaves and debris it allows them to virtually disappear. Called a disruptive coloration, it protects them from predators and helps them to catch their prey.
Habitat / Food : The python lives in rain forests, woodland and nearby grassland. It is also associated with rivers and is found in areas with nearby streams and lakes. An excellent swimmer, it has even been reported far out at sea and has consequently colonized many small islands within its range. During the early years of the twentieth century it is said to have been common even in busy parts of Bangkok. Their natural diet includes mammals and occasionally birds. Small specimens up to 34 m long eat mainly rodents such as rats, whereas larger individuals switch to prey such as civets, primates and pigs. Near human habitation, they are known to snatch stray chickens, cats and dogs on occasion.
Behavior / Mating : As with all pythons, they are ambush hunters, waiting until prey wanders within strike range before seizing it in their coils and killing via constriction. Lay between 15 and 80 eggs per clutch. At an optimum incubation temperature of 3132C, the eggs take an average of 88 days to hatch. Hatchlings are at least 61 cm in length.The offspring are independent as soon as they are born.

Short Python/Blood Python (Thai: Ngu lahm pad ped)

Scientific Name: Python curtus
General Characteristics : Adults grow to 1.5-2.5 m in length and are heavily built. The tail is extremely short relative to the overall length. The color pattern consists of a beige, tan or grayish-brown ground color overlaid with blotches that are brick to blood-red in color.
Habitat / Food : It is found in the southern region of Thailand from Prachuab Kirikhan province to the Malaysian border. Occurs in rainforests where it is found in marshes, swamps and along river banks and streams. They feed on a variety of mammals and birds.
Behavior / Mating : Seldom lay more than a dozen large eggs. The female remains coiled around the eggs during the incubation period. The hatchlings emerge after 2.5 to 3 months and are about 30 cm in length.

Bivitattus Python/Burmese Python (Thai: Ngu larm)

Scientific Name: Python molurus bivitattus
General Characteristics : Burmese Pythons are light-coloured snakes with many brown blotches bordered in black down the back. In the wild, Burmese pythons grow to 3.7 metres on average,while specimens of more than 4 metres are uncommon. Individuals over 5 metres are very rare.[
Habitat / Food : This python is an excellent swimmer and needs a permanent source of water. It can be found in grasslands, marshes, swamps, rocky foothills, woodlands, river valleys, and jungles with open clearings. They are good climbers and have prehensile tails. It is found in all regions of Thailand except the southern region near Malaysia. It eats animals such as barking deer, rabbits, rats, ducks, chickens and birds.
Behavior / Mating : Burmese Pythons are mainly nocturnal rainforest dwellers. When younger they are equally at home on the ground and in trees, but as they gain girth they tend to restrict most of their movements to the ground. They are also excellent swimmers, being able to stay submerged for up to half an hour. Burmese Pythons spend the majority of their time hidden in the underbrush. Burmese Pythons breed in the early spring, with females laying clutches which average 1236 eggs. She will remain with the eggs until they hatch, wrapping around them and twitching her muscles in such a way as to raise the ambient temperature around the eggs by several degrees. Once the hatchlings use their egg tooth to cut their way out of their eggs, there is no further maternal care. The newly hatched will often remain inside their egg until they are ready to complete their first shedding of skin, after which they hunt for their first meal.

Keeled Rat Snake (Thai: Ngu sing thai)

Scientific Name: Ptyas carinatus
General Characteristics : The Keeled rat snake is the largest rat snake with length of 375 centimeters. Various colors ranging from dark green to black with yellow stripes across the body. Back has yellow and black color crossing like a net. A yellow tail with black spots, white belly and big round pupils. It has large scales which are very similar to those of king cobra.
Habitat / Food : It is found in the area from Prachuab Kkirikhan province to the Malaysian border. Feeds on small animals such as rats and frogs.
Behavior / Mating : It normally likes to make a living on trees during daytime. It lays a clutch of 10 eggs.

Banded Krait (Thai: Ngu sam liam)

Scientific Name: Bungarus fasciatus
General Characteristics : B. fasciatus is easily identified by its alternate black and yellow bands, its triangular body cross-section and the marked vertebral ridge consisting of enlarged vertebral shields along its body. The head is broad and depressed. The eyes are black. It has arrowhead-like yellow markings on its otherwise black head and has yellow lips, lore, chin and throat. The banded krait has been recorded to grow to a length of 2.125 metres but normally the maximum length encountered is 1.8 metres or less. The snake has an entire anal scale and single subcaudals. The tail is small and ends like a finger-tip, generally being one tenth the length of the snake.
Habitat / Food : It is found in all regions of Thailand. Banded kraits may be seen in a variety of habitats, ranging from forests to agricultural lands. They inhabit termite mounds and rodent holes close to water, and often live near human settlement, especially villages, because of their supply of rodents and water. They prefer the open plains of the countryside. The banded krait feeds mainly on other snakes, but is also known to eat fish, frogs, skinks and snake eggs.
Behavior / Mating : Though venomous, banded kraits are shy, not typically seen, and are mainly nocturnal. When harassed, they will usually hide their heads under their coils, and do not generally attempt to bite, though at night they are much more active and widely considered to be more dangerous then. During the day, they lie up in grass, pits or drains. The snakes are lethargic and sluggish even under provocation. Lays a clutch of 8-12 eggs.

Siamese Russell's Viper (Thai: Ngu maeo saw)

Scientific Name: Daboia russelii siamensis
General Characteristics : This snake grows to a maximum length of 166 cm and averages about 120 cm, although island populations do not attain this size. It is more slenderly built than most other vipers. The color pattern consists of a deep yellow, tan or brown ground color, with three series of dark brown spots that run the length of its body. Each of these spots has a black ring around it, the outer border of which is intensified with a rim of white or yellow. The dorsal spots, which usually number 2330, may grow together, while the side spots may break apart. The head has a pair of distinct dark patches, one on each temple, together with a pinkish, salmon or brownish V or X pattern that forms an apex towards the snout. Behind the eye, there is a dark streak, outlined in white, pink or buff. The venter is white, whitish, yellowish or pinkish, often with an irregular scattering of dark spots.
Habitat / Food : It is not restricted to any particular habitat, but does tend to avoid dense forests. The snake is mostly found in open, grassy or bushy areas, but may also be found in second growth forests (scrub jungles), on forested plantations and farmland. They are most common in plains and coastal lowlands. Humid environments, such as marshes, swamps and rain forests, are avoided. They will eat just about anything, including rats, mice, shrews, squirrels, land crabs, scorpions and other arthropods. The presence of rodents is the main reason they are attracted to human habitation.
Behavior / Mating : Terrestrial and active primarily as a nocturnal forager. However, during cool weather it will alter its behavior and become more active during the day. Adults are reported to be persistently slow and sluggish unless pushed beyond a certain limit, after which they become aggressive. Juveniles, on the other hand, are generally more nervous. Mating generally occurs early in the year. The gestation period is more than six months before giving live birth. Young are produced from May to November, but mostly in June and July. It is a prolific breeder. Litters of 2040 are common, although there may be fewer offspring and as little as one. The reported maximum is 65 in a single litter. At birth, juveniles are 215260 mm in length.

Mangrove Snake (Thai: Ngu plong tong)

Scientific Name: Boiga dendrophila melanota
General Characteristics : Mangrove snake is a terrestrial snake with a very long and big body. The shape of its body is slightly triangular. It has big chin and very strong jaws. Whenever it bites, it will not release the target. Some of mangrove snakes are so fierce and rapidly attack with frightful manner. However, its venom is not severe, causing pain but not to death. Its body is completely black with yellow stripes. The area from its lip to lower chin is bright yellow in color.
Habitat / Food : It is found in southern provinces of Thailand. Diet are rats, fish, chameleons, squabs and eggs.
Behavior / Mating : It normally likes coiling up in dank tree hollow. Mostly nocturnal. It is a very aggressive snake. Lays a clutch of 4-15 eggs and takes 12 weeks of incubation. The length of newborns is around 35-43 centimeters.

Common Bridle Snake (Thai: Ngu plong chanuan india)

Scientific Name: Dryocalamus davisonii
General Characteristics : Bridle snakes are so named because of the resemblance of their slender bodies to the reins or 'bridle' used to control horses. Black with white bands and white belly. Average size, 60 cm
Habitat / Food : Found throughout Thailand, however more frequently in the north. A nocturnal snake, which is to be found at ground level and in bushes and trees. Feeds primarily on geckos and other small lizards
Behavior / Mating : A nocturnal snake which is to be found predominantly in trees. In addition, they live mainly in forests, but can also be found in the proximity of human settlements. Not aggressive and non-venomous. Can be mistaken for the very poisonous Krait.

Copper-headed Racer (Thai: Ngu tang ma-prow ly keet)

Scientific Name: Elaphe radiata
General Characteristics : It is the terrestrial snake with beautiful colors and stripes. Its body is long and slender. It can move very rapidly by dashing from one place to the other place. Its background color from its neck to the middle of its body is in yellow color with some segments on its body in blurred black color. It also has black stripes along its body. From the middle of its body to its tail is in orange or red brown color with no stripes. It belly is in yellow color.
Habitat / Food : Found throughout Thailand.The Copper-headed Racer eats rats, frogs, birds, squirrels. Copperheaded racers are ground-dwelling snakes and prefer to live where rats are. Anywhere rats are. These snakes can be found.
Behavior / Mating : The Copper-headed Racer searches for food during the daytime around the overgrown grasses and on the trees. Sometimes, it can be found in the rice barn and in the house. It is ordinarily non-ferocious. It strikes if frightened or approached. It tries to threaten by enlarge neck skin while opening its mouth. Copper-headed Racer is non-venomous.

King Cobra (Thai: Ngu how chang, ngu chong ahng)

Scientific Name: Ophiophagus hannah
General Characteristics : The king cobra is the world's longest venomous snake, with a length up to 5.6 m. This species is widespread throughout Thailand. The skin of this snake is either olive-green, tan, or black, and it has faint, pale yellow cross bands down the length of the body. The belly is cream or pale yellow, and the scales are smooth. Juveniles are shiny black with narrow yellow bands (can be mistaken for a banded krait, but readily identified with its expanded hood). The head of a mature snake can be quite massive and bulky in appearance. The male is larger and thicker than the female. The average lifespan of a king cobra is about 20 years.
Habitat / Food : The king cobra is distributed throughout Thailand. It lives in dense highland forests, preferring areas dotted with lakes and streams.King cobra's genus name, Ophiophagus, literally means "snake-eater", and its diet consists primarily of other snakes, including rat snakes, sizeable pythons and even other venomous snakes. When food is scarce, they may also feed on other small vertebrates, such as lizards, birds, and rodents. After a large meal, the snake may live for many months without another one because of its slow metabolic rate. The king cobra's most common meal is the ratsnake; this leads them near human settlements.
Behavior / Mating : King cobras, like other snakes, receive chemical information ("smell") via their forked tongues, which pick up scent particles and transfer them to a special sensory located in the roof of its mouth. When the scent of a meal is detected, the snake flicks its tongue to gauge the prey's location; it also uses its keen eyesight able to detect moving prey almost 100 m. Following envenomation, the king cobra will begin to swallow its struggling prey while its toxins begin the digestion of its victim. King cobras are able to hunt at all times of day, although it is rarely seen at night. The king cobra is unique among snakes. The female king cobra is a very dedicated parent. It makes a nest for its eggs, scraping up leaves and other debris in which to deposit them, and remains in the nest until the young hatch. A female usually deposits 2040 eggs into the mound, which acts as an incubator. It stays with her eggs and guards the mound tenaciously, rearing up into a threat display if any large animal gets too close. Inside the mound the female has built, the eggs are incubated at a steady 28 C. When the eggs start to hatch, instinct causes her to leave the nest and find prey to eat so she does not eat her young. The baby king cobras have a length of 45 to 55 centimeters. They are highly aggressive and have already developed potent venom, which is as deadly as that of an adult.

Elephant-trunk Snake (Thai: Ngu nuang chang)

Scientific Name: Acrochordus javanicus
General Characteristics : The elephant-trunk snake has a small and flat head with short and egg-shaped body. When small, the entire body of the snakes feel rough as if covered with grains of sand. They are easily confused with poisonous sea snakes. If above the water, it will be yellow in color. But if under water, it will be dark brown in color. Male: up to 1.9m, female: up to 2.90m
Habitat / Food : In the coastal areas in the whole of Thailand. Medium sized and larger snakes can live in salt, brackish, or fresh water. During the day the snakes hide themselves in the roots of trees located on the banks of bodies of water. At night the snakes enter the water to hunt, as its food consists predominantly of fish.
Behavior / Mating : They remain submerged in the water for long periods of time. Observations of acrochordus granulatus in this habitat have measured a period of 139 minutes spent under water. The females give birth to between 18 and 40 living young, which are between 60 and 290 mm long and weigh approximately 23 grams.

Green Pit Viper (Thai: Ngu khiau hang mai)

Scientific Name: Parias fucatus.
General Characteristics : There are several types of Green Pit Viper. Parias fucatus, pictured below. Its head is long, round, and large. Neck is small and its body short egg shaped type. End of its tail is red. The body is green and yellow. Mildly venomous. Very painful when bitten but not fatal.
Habitat / Food : This type of snake is frequently found in the central and southern region of Thailand. The Green Pit Viper eats the small lizards, geckos, birds, insects, rats, and frogs.
Behavior / Mating : A nocturnal, aggressive and biting snake which advances very quickly over a distance. During the day it lies around in the trees. At night it is on the move on the ground. The Green Pit Viper gives birth to approximately 8-12 newborns.

Golden Tree Snake (Thai: Ngu kee-ow ly dok mak)

Scientific Name: Chrysopelea ornata
General Characteristics : This species is considered mildly venomous. Chrysopelea ornata is green in color, with black cross-hatching and yellow or gold colored accents. The body, though slender, is far less so than in other tree snakes. It has a flattened head with constricted neck, a blunt nose and large eyes with round pupils. The snakes rarely exceed 1m in length. The tail is about one-fourth of the total length.
Habitat / Food : This type of snake can be found throughout Thailand. Chrysopelea ornata is a common snake and has adapted well to human habitats. In southern parts of Thailand, they are reported to hide in the thatch of the roofing material inside bungalows to prey on geckos and mice during the night. In these areas perhaps hiding in the crown of the nearby coconut palm, under the roots of a tree, or even curled up in a potted plant. When hunting and pursuing fleeing prey, they have been reported to drop down out of the crown of coconut palms. The Golden Tree Snake eats lizards, chameleons, birds, rats, some smaller snakes, and insects.
Behavior / Mating : The snake's gliding ability, makes it capable of moving from tree to tree with relative ease. These snakes are excellent climbers, being able move across even the smallest of branches and even straight up trees with few branches by using the edges of rough bark. They are frequently seen moving up a coconut palm, or up vertical rock faces in graceful curves, gripping the somewhat uneven surfaces with their scales. They tend to be nervous, fast-moving snakes, and will attempt to flee if disturbed, but will not generally hesitate to bite if handled. It lays 6 12 eggs.

Snakebite Treatment

It is not an easy task determining whether or not a bite by any species of snake is life-threatening.
A bite by a North American copperhead on the ankle is usually a moderate injury to a healthy adult, but a bite to a child's abdomen or face by the same snake may be fatal.

The outcome of all snakebites depends on a multitude of factors: the size, physical condition, and temperature of the snake, the age and physical condition of the victim, the area and tissue bitten (e.g., foot, torso, vein or muscle), the amount of venom injected, the time it takes for the patient to find treatment, and finally the quality of that treatment.

Snake identification

Identification of the snake is important in planning treatment in certain areas of the world, but is not always possible.
Ideally the dead snake would be brought in with the patient, but in areas where snake bite is more common, local knowledge may be sufficient to recognize the snake.
However, in regions where polyvalent antivenoms are available, such as North America, identification of snake is not a high priority item.

The three types of venomous snakes that cause the majority of major clinical problems are vipers, kraits, and cobras.
Knowledge of what species are present locally can be crucial, as is knowledge of typical signs and symptoms of envenomation by each type of snake.
A scoring systems can be used to try and determine the biting snake based on clinical features, but these scoring systems are extremely specific to particular geographical areas.

First aid

Snakebite first aid recommendations vary, in part because different snakes have different types of venom.
Some have little local effect, but life-threatening systemic effects, in which case containing the venom in the region of the bite by pressure immobilization is highly desirable.
Other venoms instigate localized tissue damage around the bitten area, and immobilization may increase the severity of the damage in this area, but also reduce the total area affected; whether this trade-off is desirable remains a point of controversy.

Because snakes vary from one country to another, first aid methods also vary.
As always, this article is not a legitimate substitute for professional medical advice.
Readers are strongly advised to obtain guidelines from a reputable first aid organization in their own region, and to be wary of homegrown or anecdotal remedies.

However, most first aid guidelines agree on the following:

1. Protect the patient (and others, including yourself) from further bites. While identifying the species is desirable in certain regions, do not risk further bites or delay proper medical treatment by attempting to capture or kill the snake. If the snake has not already fled, carefully remove the victim from the immediate area.
2. Keep the victim calm. Acute stress reaction increases blood flow and endangers the patient. Keep people near the patient calm. Panic is infectious and compromises judgment.
3. Call for help to arrange for transport to the nearest hospital emergency room, where antivenom for snakes common to the area will often be available.
4. Make sure to keep the bitten limb in a functional position and below the victim's heart level so as to minimize blood returning to the heart and other organs of the body.
5. Do not give the patient anything to eat or drink. This is especially important with consumable alcohol, a known vasodilator which will speed up the absorption of venom. Do not administer stimulants or pain medications to the victim, unless specifically directed to do so by a physician.
6. Remove any items or clothing which may constrict the bitten limb if it swells (rings, bracelets, watches, footwear, etc.)
7. Keep the victim as still as possible.
8. Do not incise the bitten site.

Many organizations, including the American Medical Association and American Red Cross, recommend washing the bite with soap and water.
However, do not attempt to clean the area with any type of chemical.
Australian recommendations for snake bite treatment strongly recommend against cleaning the wound.
Traces of venom left on the skin/bandages from the strike can be used in combination with a snake bite identification kit to identify the species of snake.
This speeds determination of which antivenom to administer in the emergency room.

In 1979, Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council formally adopted pressure immobilization as the preferred method of first aid treatment for snakebites in Australia.
As of 2009, clinical evidence for pressure immobilization remains limited, with current evidence based almost entirely on anecdotal case reports.
This has led most international authorities to question its efficacy.
Despite this, all reputable first aid organizations in Australia recommend pressure immobilization treatment; however, it is not widely adhered to, with one study showing that only a third of snakebite patients attempt pressure immobilization.

Pressure immobilization is not appropriate for cytotoxic bites such as those inflicted by most vipers, but may be effective against neurotoxic venoms such as those of most elapids.
Developed by medical researcher Struan Sutherland in 1978, the object of pressure immobilization is to contain venom within a bitten limb and prevent it from moving through the lymphatic system to the vital organs.
This therapy has two components: pressure to prevent lymphatic drainage, and immobilization of the bitten limb to prevent the pumping action of the skeletal muscles.

Pressure is preferably applied with an elastic bandage, but any cloth will do in an emergency.
Bandaging begins two to four inches above the bite (i.e. between the bite and the heart), winding around in overlapping turns and moving up towards the heart, then back down over the bite and past it towards the hand or foot.
Then the limb must be held immobile: not used, and if possible held with a splint or sling.
The bandage should be about as tight as when strapping a sprained ankle.
It must not cut off blood flow, or even be uncomfortable; if it is uncomfortable, the patient will unconsciously flex the limb, defeating the immobilization portion of the therapy.
The location of the bite should be clearly marked on the outside of the bandages.
Some peripheral edema is an expected consequence of this process.

Apply pressure immobilization as quickly as possible; if you wait until symptoms become noticeable you will have missed the best time for treatment.
Once a pressure bandage has been applied, it should not be removed until the patient has reached a medical professional.
The combination of pressure and immobilization may contain venom so effectively that no symptoms are visible for more than 24 hours, giving the illusion of a dry bite.
But this is only a delay; removing the bandage releases that venom into the patient's system with rapid and possibly fatal consequences.