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Cruelty to Snakes

Golden Tree Snake

Cruelty to Snakes

When I arrived at the shop for a beer a few minutes ago, the ‘landlady’ was in a panic, because a girl had reported seeing a snake entering her shop. I saw it too, but I wouldn’t have said anything since it was not poisonous and I knew what cruelty would await it if they found it.

Most Thais kill all snakes on sight whether they’re dangerous or not, which I think is bloody stupid and their least endearing quality. Often they display the most extreme cruelty during these usually pointless killings.

They say it’s better to be safe than sorry.

It’s hard to argue with that, but since most snakes are not poisonous and eat a lot of rodents that eat their rice, I would have thought it was worth learning (at school perhaps) which ones were helpful and which were to be avoided. It would put an end to a lot of the ritual persecution and cruelty.

In fact, most of the snakes’ killers are older women and teenage boys. I’ve seen women dancing after killing a snake and boys parading their trophy about as if they had achieved something miraculous. They’re big heroes with snakes that can’t fight back, but daddy is called to kill the really serious ones.

What I have learned is that short, stumpy, light-green snakes whose back of the head is a lot wider than its nose are killers. This includes the pit vipers. Then there are cobras, which tend to be black here, and a few others which have quite distinctive markings and that’s it. The large constrictors (over three or four metres) are also best given a wide berth, but I think that would come naturally J

This one today didn’t match any of those criteria. It was about two foot six long, as thin as a bottleneck and dark green with hatching (a little like in the photo). It probably ate beetles, but three people armed with six-foot-long long sticks trapped it in a corner and hit it a few times before dropping it into the drainage system. I don’t think it was dead, but perhaps had a broken back, so it’s going to have to lie down there in pain until it starves to death.

That sort of cruelty makes me sick.

All the best.

Owen

PS: a note about the photo: my neighbour found this five-foot, harmless beauty, a so-called flying snake, on the outside of her front door when she got up bleary-eyed after their house-warming party. She called me to see it and then shooed it away 🙂 but most would have killed it on the spot.

Podcast: Cruelty to Snakes