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.