Snakes - safety in jungles of Southeast Asia

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During my month of voluntary work at Our Land Wildlife Reserve in Kanchanaburi Province in Thailand in 2018 I learned a lot about the nature of Southeast Asia. Its beauty and dangers. One of the biggest dangers lurking for travelers are snakes.

Our Land Wildlife Reserve makes its property available to wild elephants so that they can safely get into the Khwae Yai River and drink water from it or take a bath. This place is also the Snake Rescue Center. Vijo - co-founder of Our Land - can be called a 'snake whisperer'. In large cities such as Bangkok, the firefighters respond to calls from residents regarding reptiles in the garden or home. Volunteers like Vijo help in the province. They catch the snake and then release it in a safe place, e.g. a national park. I had the pleasure to participate in one rescue operation of the king cobra, which settled outside the house of a Thai farmer.

Of the more than 200 snakes found in Southeast Asia, 60 of them are deadly venomous. 30 occur on land and 30 in water. For the water snakes there is no anti-venome available, because people do not have much contact with them.

How to navigate safely in the jungle

Snakes can't hear but they can feel the vibrations. Some, therefore, think that you should stomp all the way. Can you imagine stamping for 3 hours or more? Exactly. So what should you do? Find a long stick and hit or scrape it on the ground in front of you. Walk as a blind person. The snake should move away. In the worst case, it will attack the stick, not your leg.

What not to do when a snake bites you

  • Absolutely do not cut the wound and do not try to suck out venom. Usually someone else will do it and the person who is helping us through small wounds in the mouth or digestive system may fall victim to your own bite. Do you think you can suck the vaccine out of your body? No.
  •  Do not use a tourniquet. If you do not have a hospital at hand, after an hour due to lack of oxygen, your tissues will die and your limb will have to be amputated. Even if the hospital is nearby, when you take away the touniquet infected blood would quickly move all over the body, which is really dangerous for you.

What to do if a snake bites you

First of all, don't panic. There is a chance that the snake was not venomous. In addition, it could have been the so-called 'dry bite'. For the snake to produce venom it takes 24 hours to several days. It may not want to waste precious venom, if it's not going to eat you (venomous snakes are usually too small to swallow a human). Without its venom is quite defenseless and cannot hunt.

However, if the poison has got into your bloodstream, then you have 1.5 to 2 hours (this applies to venomous snakes of Southeast Asia) to get to the hospital and take the anti-venom. If you use the technique below, you will give yourself an additional 10-15% more time. You will need 2 long pieces of compression bandage, a stick to stiffen the bitten arm, or leg (usually these are 2 body parts most at danger, because we will put our leg or hand where it should not be) and a sling (in the case of a hand).  

  1. To slow down blood flow, wrap your hand with a compression bandage. You should feel the pressure, but it shouldn't be hard enouth to cut off the blood flow completely.
  2. Place a stick to stiffen the bitten limb.
  3. Wrap it with a second piece of pressure bandage.
  4. In the case of a hand, put on a sling. In the case of a leg, it's best for someone to carry you (we want your blood to circulate as slowly as possible).
  5. Go to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.

Of course you don't know if the snake was venomous, so after a bite follow instruction above.

Note: This post is about snakes of Southeast Asian. In other regions of the world there are other species of these reptiles, which means that their venom can work faster (rattlesnake venom kills a man even in 30 minutes!) And you should act in a different way.


Of course, this post should not discourage you from traveling! I just want you to be safe during your amazing trip.

You may also be interested in my other posts:

What interesting representatives of the animal world did you meet in your travels? Share it in the comments below, please ?.

Maria Inspires
Maria Inspires
My name is Maria Durczyk. I love traveling, illustrating, people. I travel to near and distant countries and towards health and inner peace.

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