Word had it that three baby cobras were discovered in the past week or so around our apartment complex. A quick email to our housing management committee revealed that six, not three, cobras were found and “relocated.”
One day last week, before I knew about the cobras, I spotted a small snake on the playground at dusk. My six-year-old neighbor shrieked, sending his soccer ball flying through the air toward E and I. Still holding E from a drink at the water fountain, I searched the ground til I saw it, a skinny brown thing, just a couple of feet long, the width of two fingers. We stood still and watched as it slithered into the foliage and out of sight.
Normally, I’d alert the building manager about such an event, but the snake looked so small and harmless, like the garter snakes my grandfather found in his yard when I was growing up. After watching this video, though, and learning that mama cobras lay up to two dozen eggs, I’m pretty certain what we saw was, indeed, a cobra.
The resident guide for my local community discusses what to do in case of bites, which is unnerving, to say the least.
In Case of Snake Bites:
- Remain calm, so as not to stimulate blood flow.
- Immediately apply a tourniquet above the bite to cut off the blood flow.*
- Remember all identifying characteristics of the snake to assist doctors in correctly treating the bite.
- Proceed without delay to a hospital with snake serum. Currently _________ is the closet , carrying anti-venom for pit vipers, trimeresurus, cobras and banded kraits.
*Health organizations remain conflicted regarding this advice.
- Try to suck out the venom from the wound.
- Use a knife to cut out the venom.
- Try to cauterize the wound with fire or heat.
- Drink alcohol or [take] any drug known to increase the heart rate.
- Use medicinal plants to sterilize the wound.
Somehow, in the almost seven years I’ve lived in Thailand, I’ve encountered snakes just a couple of times, including this latest time on the playground. I’ve heard enough snake stories, though, to know that I’m probably fortunate. Cats and small dogs occasionally go missing or turn up dead, baby pythons take up residence in desk drawers at the local international school, a former neighbor discovered a bright green snake living behind her refrigerator. Grounds staff and local “snake whisperers” are recruited to find and relocate the pet-killing offenders, and then there’s this story, inciting panic in an already panic-filled northern Bangkok during last year’s flooding.
I guess living among venomous snakes is akin to living in earthquake-prone areas. What are you going to do about it, really? You live your life and hope for the best…
What snake stories do you have to share?
Image credit: Bronx Zoo Cobra, from the Center for Missing and Exploited Snakes by Mike Licht on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed