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 hadn’t 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. It is their least endearing quality. Often they display the most extreme cruelty to snakes during these usually pointless killings.
They say it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Cruelty to Snakes
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 to snakes.
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!
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. However, three people armed with six-foot-long long sticks trapped it in a corner. They then hit it a few times before dropping it into the drainage system. I don’t think it was dead. It looked like it 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 to snakes makes me sick.
All the best.
PS: a note about the photo. My neighbour found this five-foot, harmless beauty when she got up bleary-eyed after their house-warming party. It’s a so-called flying snake, on the outside of her front door. She called me to see it and then shooed it away 🙂 but most would have killed it on the spot.
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Podcast: Cruelty to Snakes
Although our dog, Angun, (‘Grape’ in English), hates to share her garden with any other animals, even butterflies and beetles, lots of them come in anyway. Just to taunt her, I think, but she does catch and kill a few. She is what my wife calls a ‘Chinese Fighting Dog’ and there a several in the village. It’s strange, I’ve seen CFD’s breeding with strays every year, but the results are always the same: more CFD’s with either black or brown patches. Basically they look like slightly larger Jack Russells with a tail. Their genes must be very strong by Nature.
The savage protection of property is apparently typical of females of the breed, whereas males protect their human family. This is our first CFD bitch, but we’ve had two dogs before. I find the study of Nature fascinating and wanted to be a zoologist like Desmond Morris when I was a kid.
Angun makes life Hell for snakes, but won’t attempt to kill them like she does with all other animals that get through our wrought iron gates. I guess that’s a fear that Nature has instilled in her like it has in most human beings.
I saw two birds today I’ve never seen before; one was a baby something with a bald head and not many feathers. It was sitting on a windowcill outside my office admiring itself in the smoked glass window. We have many birds nesting in the garden despite Angun, which drives her mad.
The other bird was larger and at first I thought it was a crow or raven until I put my glasses on. It was struggling to get through the fence and didn’t make it. Just before I put my spectacles on, it crossed my mind that it looked like the head of a black Labrador.
However, on closer inspection, it was the colour of Guinness with a candle behind it – a deep, ruby-red. It gave up trying to squash itself through when Angun noticed it, and dropped to the ground on the other side of the fence out of sight.
Isn’t Nature wonderful?
All the best,
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Being An Expat
To those of you who have read the first five parts to this series, I would like to say ‘thank you’. I don’t know what impression of being an expat I left you with except that it is a truthful one as I see it. This last article then is the summary of why I’m still living abroad.
There are challenges, as there are just from being alive; some are relished and others are a pain. The annual visa is not really a problem, if you have the money and if you don’t, move somewhere else. That is straightforward. Health care is a let-down for Brits, because we are used to not paying at the point of delivery, but to most other nationalities, it is normal. I had never faced corruption before I came to Thailand, but those who know say it is no worse than in Mediterranean countries and my wife shields me from most of it anyway.
Challenges that I enjoy include learning the language. I like to learn languages and Thai is different and so difficult. I have always liked nature and Thailand is full of flora and fauna that just doesn’t exist in good old Wales. Thailand is a fairly densely populated country, yet there are still wild elephants roaming about!
Snakes are a far more common problem, but not once you are aware that they are about and keep that awareness in the front of your mind. Having said that I have always liked snakes and actively seek them out, but even I don’t see as many as one a week in the countryside. This is partly because Thais kill all snakes on sight and eat many of them.
I have never sought the heat, but as I get older, I find that the warm temperature of Thailand suits me better than cold rain and cold wind. The elements here are always warm to hot despite the wind and rain.
People are happier in Thailand than they are in the UK. They are poorer and the gap between rich and poor is miles, but food, drink and sunshine are cheap and that counts for a lot. In summary, I would rather be poor here than in Europe – there is absolutely no doubt in my mind about that.
As an older man who was single for fifty years, I was often regarded with suspicion in the UK. I could see people wondering whether I was gay or a paedophile and it wasn’t nice. Once you get past about fifty, you become a ‘dirty old man’ if you look at a pretty girl or woman. That used to cheese me off. Men don’t cease to admire beautiful women on their fiftieth birthday and anyone who thinks that they should is an idiot. Unfortunately, most people who think that they should ‘act their age’ are women and the older ones are hypocrites.
European women and American women that is, not Asian women, who are quite happy to be looked and quite happy to admit that they are happy with what is naturally going to happen anyway. At the age of sixty now, just as many, if not more, unknown females of all ages start a conversation with me as they did when I was thirty years younger in Europe. It leads to a more natural society. Why should elderly men be ostracised after a lifetime of hard work?
And last but not least the cuisine. I have always liked ‘foreign food’. It started when I was very young. My mother adventurously used to add a spoonful of curry power to a gallon of stew on its second day and serve it with rice instead of bread. We all loved this early form of curry which would be laughed at these days, but was considered risqué in our community fifty-odd years ago. I also had a Greek friend who would invite me back for tea. I have clear memories of eating a salad hat included dandelion leaves from the garden, olives and stuffed olive leaves one summer’s afternoon.
Needless to say, I love Thai food and my wife is a particularly good cook and not only in my estimation, although I know that she tones the chillies down for my portion as she can eat them raw, straight from the bush. As a good cook, Neem, likes to grow a lot of her own raw ingredients, and I get a lot of pleasure from seeing coconut, banana, lemon, mango and many other fruit trees you would probably never have heard of growing in our garden.
In summary, this is why I stay here, struggle though it has been several times and will be again in the future no doubt.
All the best.
by +Owen Jones
Podcast: Being An Expat: Summary
Snakes in Thailand
I look out for snakes… but then I suppose most people do except the British and the Irish, because we don’t have many at home. After all, no-one wants to step on one in the grass or get bitten by one in the woodpile, but I don’t mean it like that, I mean that I like snakes, although that doesn’t mean that I’m not wary of them.
It’s just that they fascinate me. As you might know, I live in northern Thailand and there are about a hundred species of snakes here around thirty percent of which are poisonous (and most of them are deadly), although I don’t know the absolute numbers.
I imagine that the vast majority of snakes here are not poisonous, although those in banana trees often are. Most of the deadly ones seem to be shortish, green pit vipers with a broad head. There are also two huge pythons, six and ten metres, which are best avoided when they get to that size.
People think that there are snakes everywhere in rural Thailand, where I am, and they may be right, but I doubt if I see one a month, and I’ve only seen one cobra in ten years, and it wasn’t a King Cobra either (also about six metres).
Well, I saw two snakes today, which is a personal best. The first one was a 600mm Lion Snake (a Chequered Keelback), which people here say is poisonous, and the book says might be. It was travelling along the top of our wall and then jumped of into our neighbour’s garden and the second was a 1500mm Wall’s Bronzeback.
I became aware of it because our dog was going crazy. The snake was sitting on the patio leisurely eating a frog and when it was finished, it quietly left.
I don’t know why we had two visitors today, but I suspect that they had been disturbed by the roadworks outside our house. The snakes were lucky that my wife was out shopping or she would have had her son kill them.
All the best,
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Podcast: Snakes in Thailand