My Friend Bitten for 4th Time by Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia) Snake

Thai man bit by Naja kaouthia, a monocled cobra snake, in southern Thailand

Working with monocled and king cobras for a living must be a little stressful.

My friend Dtom, a Thai guy working a Cobra show was bitten 5 days ago for the 4th time in his illustrious career. He was kneeling on the show floor, with a Naja kaouthia (monocled cobra) on the left, right, and in the center in front of him. He kept the ones on the side occupied and focused on keeping the middle one focused on his knees which moved occasionally.

He reached up over top of the head of the center snake, to kiss it on the top of the head, when it suddenly struck at his groin. The guys wear loose fitting pants, and this happens sometimes. It has happened to the owner of the show – he told me a couple of weeks back. Their legs are spread and it leaves a big gap of pant fabric exposed to the snake, but their flesh isn’t right underneath it – and so, they aren’t often bit during this part of the show.

This snake bit that fabric close to Dtom’s right leg. As Dtom reached around to grab the snake from behind to get it off him – in a split second the snake slid down a bit and found his thigh under the pants and bit down.

The show was stopped and Dtom went to the hospital. Some of the guys at the show refuse to go to the hospital because they themselves or people they know have not had good experiences there. In fact, one of the snake guys had a little brother that died after a king cobra bite during a show there a couple of years ago. The boy died in the car on the way to the hospital – but the hospital staff couldn’t revive him and so some of them have a bad feeling about going to the hospital for venomous snake bites.

When bitten by a venomous snake and you’re at the hospital – if the staff knows what they are doing they will test the antivenin before giving you the full dose. Antivenin causes severe allergic reactions in some people – and death. The antivenin may kill you and the snake venom – not kill you. This is another factor in the guys not wanting to visit the hospital for treatment – they have seen and heard about others that have died as a result of the administration of antivenin for a bite.

Dtom will visit the hospital again today to have part of the necrosis – dead tissue – cut away around the bite site. He invited me to shoot some video of it – but, I’m not all that into seeing people cut with knives – even if they can’t feel it – I can.

If he stops by the house I might be dragged over to watch. I’ll point the camera and look the other way.

Dtom didn’t have an extreme reaction to the bite because this is his 4th bite by a monocled cobra. Gradually the body builds up resistance to the venom, and each reaction to a subsequent bite – is lessened.

I asked one of the other snake guys if he wants to work with the cobras now, having seen a bite up close and personal. He said – NO. This guy was there for over a year and was working his way up to do the cobra shows soon. He has reconsidered. I’m glad he did.

If you want more information on the snakes of Thailand – have a look at my Thailand snake site – www.ThailandSnakes.com. I’ll get some video up of Dtom talking about the bite as soon as I get a decent internet connection at the house. Going on 2 months of absolute JUNK connection now since the rains were heavy.

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at ThailandeBooks.com. There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.

5 thoughts on “My Friend Bitten for 4th Time by Monocled Cobra (Naja kaouthia) Snake”

  1. from Wiki:

    Active anaphylaxis

    Active anaphylaxis is what is naturally observed. Two weeks or so after an animal, including humans, is exposed to cerllergens, active anaphylaxis (which is simply called “anaphylaxis”) would be elicited upon exposure to the same allergens.

  2. Hi Vern, I’m a vet, I had a lot of experience with paralysis tick antivenin used in cats and dogs in Australia…., almost always trouble free on the first usage, with a much greater chance of reactions on later applications, we’d often see the same animals coming in again in later years presenting with the same problem, (Ixodes holocyclus is seasonal: a spring/summer risk) (had some experience with snake antivenin in dogs, but rarely saw repeat cases with the same problem).

    1. You’re a vet? Great! There are a whole lot of dogs here that need spayed and neutered. I mean millions. The locals – I’ve seen this done a couple times – put a bag of puppies in the middle of the highway so cars hit them and they don’t have to worry about them anymore. Pretty cruel – yes? I don’t think the process costs much in TH – but most people aren’t making much either. They look at it as fate I guess… the puppies will die because they can’t afford to get the mother fixed.

  3. Yes, there is a big problem with receiving repeated doses of antivenin; the first time is (almost!) certainly very safe, but following that dose, the immune system is sensitised, and the chance of having a severe anaphylactic response increases greatly.

    But for your young snake charmer associates,(ie, those receiving their FIRST bite) it would probably be safer to get the antivenin than not! (all subject to monitoring the initial severity of the bite reaction and estimating the degree of envenomation…)

    It would be nice if they could understand they are relatively safe with the first usage of antivenin, that in itself may save a few young lives. After that first dose though, they are correct to be wary.

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