Snake Farm - Bangkok
So you want to pet a king cobra? Kiss a python? Dodge the curious head of a mangrove snake? Bangkok's snake farm offers all these forms of excitement and a bit more.
We turned up one Sunday morning for the daily half-hour show. The first snake brought out is a rather docile king cobra, which, once under the control of the snake handlers, can be touched. A second king cobra, not so docile, is then set loose on the floor. It slithers around with its hood extended, lunging every now and then at the handlers. One of the handlers, who once lost a finger to one of these snakes, demonstrates the skill involved in grabbing one of these critters.
Now under the control of the handers the snake is milked for venom and then fed. A skinless snake of unknown species is shoved down its throat, but the snake doesn't seem to mind. Fed and sent off, two Siamese cobras are brought out. Considerably smaller then the kings, this pair also spends their several minutes in the limelight dancing around with their hoods out lunging at the handlers. To finish off the cobras, a spitting cobra is let loose on the floor but fortunately doesn't spit at anyone and I expect the handlers knew this already.
All the cobras are put away and then a banded krait is shown for a few moments before being sent off. It's followed by a mangrove snake. Both the banded krait and the mangrove snake are highly venomous, however the mangrove snake is not at all aggressive (at least this one is) and it's taken around for another touching session. On several occasions the snake clearly moves within striking distance of several onlookers but does nothing more than stick its tongue out at them.
Following the display of these venomous snakes, people are invited to have a python draped over them for a photo. The handlers request a 20-baht food donation for the privilege.
The snake farm in Bangkok is not just a place to show snakes to awed tourists, but is in fact one of the premier snake anti-venom research facilities in the world. They also educate people on the true dangers of snakes and which snakes are indigenous to the area. For the record, though in Cambodia, I have personally seen a banded krait, a Siamese cobra, a green tree viper, and a python. So the snakes are indeed here.
The snake shows are at 11 a.m. seven days a week and again at 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. There is a thirty-minute slide show presentation prior to the shows (10:30 and 2:00). There's also a museum showing a number of snakes bottled up in formaldehyde as well as some snake skins unrolled to their full lengths, eggs, and full-color wall photos of the different species found in Thailand. The snakes themselves are kept in enclosures on the grounds which people can have a look at before or after the show. Dual-pricing is in force here for no apparent good reason and admission is 70 baht for foreigners and 20 baht for Thais. The snake farm is on the grounds of the Thai Red Cross at the intersection of Henri Dunant (eastern terminus of Suriwong) and Rama IV. It's a very short walk from the Sala Daeng BTS Station if you walk down Thaniya Plaza and turn right at Suriwong.
All text and photographs © 1998 - 2006 Gordon Sharpless. Commercial or editorial usage without written permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.