Snake Catchers in Bangkok

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Nayara Batshke

Bangkok, Sep 22 (EFE) — The “Snake Hunters” receive an emergency call every fifteen minutes due to unexpected encounters between humans and these creatures in Bangkok. These unsavory sightings are exacerbated during the rainy season in Thailand, where about 60,000 of these animals are captured each year.

Intense monsoonal storms cause flooding, typically from June to October, across the country and lead to more “sights and encounters” with snakes as the animals leave their long burrows in search of “drier, warmer” places to hide.

A firefighter watches a cobra in Bangkok. EFE/AOS/NARONG SANGNAK

And although such encounters seem terrifying, they are quite frequent: with a tropical and humid climate.

Thailand is presented as an ideal home for more than 200 species of snakes, of which about thirty are venomous.

“During the rainy season, snakes are observed more often, because during the rain the places where they live are also flooded. They cannot stay there, so they go out and hide in houses,” Sgt. Pinyo Pukfinyo of the Bangkok Disaster Prevention Center told EFE.

Phone line handles incidents

Given the incidents, he points out, the Thai capital’s fire department has set up a 24-hour hotline to respond to incidents involving these reptiles, although it also ends up taking care of other potentially dangerous animals such as lizards or wasps.

“We can find snakes everywhere, but most often these are places where their prey abounds, such as rats or even pets,” Piño says. He adds that these places could be the “garage, kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom” of the home.

Firefighter Finyo Pukfinho demonstrates a non-venomous snake he has caught. EFE/AOS/NARONG SANGNAK

Firefighters answer between 150 and 200 calls a day during the rainy season related to the presence of these animals in various parts of Bangkok. They range from residences to commercial establishments, and are a task that requires painstaking work of finding, hunting, and capturing.

But apart from the fear of a sudden encounter with a snake, Pigno says, most of the creatures captured in the metropolis of about 10.7 million people are harmless and do not pose a great danger to humans.

“There are three or four venomous species in Bangkok, which is 5 to 10 percent of the total we catch. Others, like pythons, are not venomous, and about 70 percent of the snakes we catch are pythons.”

Also, whenever possible, agents try to return animals to nature, although some have to be transferred to specialized centers due to their high level of danger.

Man and wildlife intertwined

Firefighters caught a python in Bangkok. EFE/AOS/NARONG SANGNAK

Thailand is the natural habitat of over 230 species of snakes, reportedly found throughout the country.

Faced with the onset of modernization and urban expansion, wildlife and urban life have no choice but to coexist in ever tighter spaces.

Legend has it that Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Southeast Asia’s busiest airport, opened in 2006 in what is still known as the “cobra swamp”. This would explain the countless cases of snakes found in travelers’ suitcases in subsequent years.

Over time, the metropolis has also confirmed its position as a global tourist destination, with more than 22 million visitors annually before the covid pandemic. For this reason, in recent years, the city has maintained an accelerated pace of expansion, which also contributes to the expansion of the habitat of these creatures.

Exodus of residents to the suburbs where snakes live

Added to this is the exodus of residents themselves, who are increasingly looking for cheaper areas away from the center, as well as the development of the city towards areas that until then were the main home of wildlife.

“People are moving to the suburbs where snakes traditionally live. And when people enter the area where snakes live, the chances of these encounters or animals entering their homes increase, ”Pigno emphasizes.

Also, because they are not part of the Thai diet, the snakes have no natural predators in urban areas, making it easier for them to breed, which occurs during the rainy season and colder temperatures, and is reflected in increased interaction with humans. during that period.

“With the onset of cold weather, snakes hide in warm places in houses, such as shoe cabinets, piles of clothes, bedding. And this coincides with another factor – the moment when the cubs hatch from the eggs, ”explains the sergeant.

Author Nayara Batshke
Edited by Nuria Santesteban

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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