I was headed to a hike 4 days ago when it started to really rain. I stopped at a large open-air restaurant and parked the bike under the overhang and talked to the woman that ran the restaurant for a while. She spoke pretty decent English – so most of our conversation was in that language.
I asked her – were there many snakes right here where the restaurant was. She said, NO! It was an overreaction, but I couldn’t have known why. I told her I collect snakes – venomous – or any snakes. Then she told me what happened to her 3 months ago in March 2010.
She and her husband had owned a guesthouse for 20 years. They’d been married for 20 years. They have a 13 year old daughter. Their life was nice… low stress, her husband was a very good man she said over and over… Many foreigners came to the guesthouse and that’s how she knew English to the degree she did.
Her husband walked to the beverage refrigerator in the guesthouse – and opened the door to get a soda to drink. The instant he opened the refrigerator door a small cobra snake popped out of the interior engine compartment between the vent slats – and bit him on the toe and slithered away. They knew it was a monocled cobra. The wife said quickly – oh, be careful – you have no shoes on it will get your foot. He said, “it already got my toe.”
They went to the public hospital and his heart raced for a number of days before they said they couldn’t do anything else and sent him to Bangkok-Phuket hospital. There they said they need to amputate his leg to the knee – which was fine with them – they thought – oh great, he’ll live after that.
After the operation he got worse… and couldn’t move – but could open his eyes and cry. So, for 9 days she stayed with him as he slept when he opened his eyes, he cried…
On the 9th day his heart raced and he died.
There were tears in her eyes… and it was obviously quite fresh – being only 3 months ago. It was a shocking tale and, though I love to find venomous snakes in the wild, I’ve never once given any thought to one jumping out from under my refrigerator to bite my foot.
A monocled cobra’s venom is about 10 times more toxic than the banded krait venom… which is more deadly than the king cobra venom. One bite – a quick one on the toe – can kill you, even WITH treatment.
That’s a sobering thought.
I wanted to write this up quickly for all of you that have guest houses, restaurants, anything that is open air where snakes can get in. Cobras are mostly ground dwellers, but they do well in the bushes too… they could come through an open window. I’ve had friends that used to get cobras in their kitchen REGULARLY in Surat Thani.