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One of the things visitors to the island and the people that live here enjoy about Koh Samui is the fascinating wildlife. There are beautiful fish to be seen in the ocean, diving or snorkeling, a trip to the National Marine Park might result in a monkey sighting, if you are lucky and during a hike through the jungle you will see buffalo, birds and sometimes squirrels. There are a lot of caring folk on the island who will happily take in stray dogs and cats, and insect eating geckos are also welcome. There is one occasional visitor however that is not so welcome into our homes, the snake.
Thailand has over two hundred snake species; around sixty of those are venomous. The brave at heart are often tempted to kill snakes that arrive uninvited into gardens and homes but in many cases these are non-venomous snakes that are completely harmless.
It is a good idea for anyone who lives here to familiarize themselves with Thailand’s native snakes. Here is an example of just a few of Thailand’s snakes some of them venomous some of them not.
The Burmese Python is one of the world’s five largest snakes and are often found near water. The average size of a Burmese Python is 3.7 meters but they can grow as long as 5.74 meters. These snakes have dark coloured skin with many brown blotches, are mainly nocturnal and are excellent swimmers.
Malayan Bridle Snake
These snakes are very good climbers and can easily grip the trunk of a tree. They can be identified by the yellow-grey body colour with thick, regular brown bands on the dorsal side that do not continue under the ventral side. This snake is only about the same thickness as a finger.
Striped Bronzeback Snake
This snake is also known as the garter snake. I can reach up to 180 centimeters in length. This snake rarely climbs more than about four meters and likes to eat lizards and frogs.
Indochinese Rat Snake
This snake has an olive coloured tail with dark-edge scales and a faint pale brown banding that occurs on the thickest part of the body. It has relatively large eyes and as its name would suggest it likes to eat rats.
This snake can grow up to 1.8 meters and is heavily built. The tail is extremely short relative to its overall length and the colour pattern consists of a beige tan or grayish brown ground colour overlaid with blotches that are brick to blood colour.
The sunbeam snake can grow up to 1.3 meters in length and have a dorsal colour pattern that is reddish brown, brown or a blackish colour. The belly is an un-patterned whitish gray. The scales are iridescent, creating a beautiful display of colours in the light.
The Copperhead Racer Snake
This snake can grow up to 230 c long and has a light brown body to the front that fades to a yellowish or orange tan towards the back of the body. Two prominent black stripes run down the first half of either side of the body. Three black lines radiate back from the eye, two slanting downwards and the other running up until it hits a black collar at the back of the head.
Red Tailed Racer
These racers are beautiful green snakes with a reddish or grey tail. They can give you a strong bite but they are not venomous. They have smooth scales ideal for climbing trees and can grow up to 2.4 meters.
The King Cobra is the words longest venomous snake and can grow up to 5.7 meters. Its skin is either olive green or tan, sometimes black and it has faint, pale, yellow cross bands down the length of its body. The belly is cream or pale yellow. Juveniles are shiny black with narrow yellow bands. The head can be very bulky.
Waglers Pit Viper
This snake can grow up to one meter and had a large triangular head with a relatively thin body. Juveniles are mainly light green with narrow pale bands and the adults are dark green with thicker yellowish bands.
Mangrove Pit Viper
This snake can grow up to 90cm and a characteristic broad triangular head. The scales are heavily keeled that gives a rough appearance. The body is brown, grey, olive or greenish-yellow with large dark blotches across the back with a white stripe on the sides.
Red Headed Krait
This snake can grow up to 2.1 meters. It has a very striking and distinctive colour with a bright red head and tail with a black body that includes a low lateral narrow bluish white stripe. It has large, smooth scales and is very glossy and attractive.
This snake can grow up to 150 cm This snake is deadly.
These snakes can grow up to 150cm and vary in coloru from light beige to dark brown and grey. This snake has a very powerful live threatening poison.
This snake can grow up to 160cm and has strong and deadly poison that is corrosive to the eyes.
The coral snake and blue coral snake
The coral snake can grow up to 180cm and only lives in southern Thailand. This snake is generally peaceful but the blue coral snake must be counted as highly dangerous.
If you find a snake in your house or garden, do not attempt to kill it. If you need a hand identifying it or having it removed then help is at hand. A lovely chap, Phil, from the UK is here on the island and runs a snake rescue service. Call him on 0896635085. If your snake is reasonably well contained he is the guy who can take it back to wherever it came from!
If you have been bitten by a snake – go to a hospital FIRST. Don’t waste time looking it up on the internet. With some snakes you need to have medical help as fast as possible. With others you have some time. One Thai man died in less than 10 minutes from a snake bite.