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Khun Densak goes cobra hunting

September 7, 2011

During the mushroom excursion last Saturday we discussed snakes. A neighbour reported that Thai mushroom pickers had found eggs of python. I remarked I had not seen any cobra since April 201o, and since I only see cobras about once a year, it should be time now. Yesterday it was. I simply walked out of the shop to go to the bathroom and there was a small Indochinese spitting cobra (Naja siamensis) on the lawn. The body was slightly swollen and I think it had eaten a toad I had seen on that spot an hour earlier. I simply shouted ‘ngo – antalay’ (snake, danger) and hoped somebody would hear. Khun Densak, our head gardener, showed up and like last time in 2010, only dressed in a towel. Last time I had tried to make the cobra move away using a butterfly net. This time I let the Thais do their job without my interference. Khun Densak stunned it with a blow to the head using a bamboo stick. Then he simply killed it with a sharp garden tool.

I asked Khun Densak if there was anything he wanted to say when I wrote the blog, and his advice was “Never kill a spitting cobra with a knife” (rather a large machete). “They can spit venom into your eyes and so you need to stun it quickly using a long pole, and then you have the time to kill it”. I asked Khun Densak if he would eat it, but he said that during the rainy season they do not taste well. I am not sure if he yielded to his daughter who hates snakes, or if that was the truth. Anyhow, I have had my annual encounter and so Dokmai Garden should be safe now. The greatest density of cobras and kraits is in the rice field areas, since they like to eat amphibians. We are a bit uphill and so cobras are rare and we have never seen krait at Dokmai Garden.

The cobra was a bit sluggish due to a full stomach.

This is the capital blow.

The cobra is no longer a threat.

Thai women do not like visiting cobras.

Text and photo: Eric Danell

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2012 9:50 PM

    A pity and a waste!

  2. David Cooke permalink
    April 13, 2012 2:54 PM

    yes I agree with Antoniuni. Easy to kill things. I catch mice alive and transport them away on my way to work. I think we can do the same for any snakes. The Thais will kill any snake because: 1. it’s poisonous, or because 2: you can eat it. Like lumberjacks in Canada, they chop everything down because 1: it’s worth money, or 2: it’s worthless.

    • April 13, 2012 3:05 PM

      Yes, I tried to push out a cobra from the shop once, using a butterfly net. The cobra was apologetic and was about to leave (no sign of hostility) when Khun Densak saw what I was doing. He killed the cobra on the spot. I have stopped interfering everytime I see something I disagree with since our cultures are terribly different and we would have argues every second about everything. Instead I just describe the contemporary Thai farmer’s culture, and limit interventions.

  3. David Cooke permalink
    April 13, 2012 3:18 PM

    I well understand why you wrote the article. I do get upset when human beings are mistreated, next comes unnecessarily killing or causing suffering to living things. I would have thought that in A Buddhist country this is an argument that is easily transmitted. I have to draw the line somewhere, and that’s where it is with me.

    • April 13, 2012 9:02 PM

      Thailand and Sri Lanka are both Buddhist countries, but Thailand is more under the influence of Chinese culture.

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