One thing about being snake mad is that eventually other people start to catch on. I am by no means an expert herpatologist, but at work I have become the person who is called when there’s a snake or when someone has a question about a snake. More recently though, people have begun to ask if I could relocate snakes that they have found in or around their homes, which I am always more than happy to do.
Last week I received a message from a friend saying that she had a python which her husband had rescued after it found its way into one of their friend’s houses. They told me that they had nicknamed it Bob and asked if I could relocate it for them. I have yet to see a live wild python so I was over the moon at the opportunity to see a wild python up close!
The following day her husband dropped it off to me at work in a polystyrene cool box. It was by far the best package I’ve ever received! I opened it up, and there in the bottom of the box was a beautiful young reticulated python (Python reticulatus).
Being a Biology Teacher I couldn’t resist the opportunity to use this beautiful creature to teach my students a little about snakes and pythons in particular.
One of my older classes (Mathayom 6/Year 12) are very inquisitive about snakes and are always asking what snakes I have seen on the weekend. The last couple of minutes of my last class on Friday is usually spent answering their herpetology questions and showing them my snake pictures from the weekend. You can imagine how excited they were when I brought a live snake into my class……….well most of them were excited!
The students were thrilled to see Bob and I loved having such a valuable teaching tool as he sparked a lot of interesting questions.
The students were all eager to get a peak at Bob, even the ones who weren’t keen on snakes. A lot of the students really wanted to touch or hold him so I had to explain to them that he is a wild snake and feels quite threatened by us big humans looming over him and is quite likely to bite out of self defense if we reach in to touch him.
I explained to them how most snakes will move away from humans and only bite if we get too close or if they feel threatened. I explained how most bites occur when people attempt to catch or kill snakes, so it’s best just to admire from a distance and then leave them alone.
We discussed some simple steps on how to avoid snake bites and of course, most importantly, how you should never touch any snake unless you are 100% sure what it is and for this I use the Malayan Krait as an example. (Many non-venomous snakes have a similar appearance/ colouration to this highly venomous species).
After the students had all had a chance to see Bob, I gave him some water and put him away in a quiet locked room for the rest of the day until I could take him home.
I consulted Vern Lovic from thailandsnakes.com on about where and when would be best to release BOB. He suggested to release him at night, near water and near frogs. I knew just the place. We would release him in our favourite herping spot near the stream that runs through it.
On the way up the hill to the relase spot, I joked to Carly that we have never come back from this spot without seeing a snake and that this time we had cheated and brought our own snake to ensure that our lucky streak continued!
Not more than two minutes after saying that, I spotted this beautiful Javanese Rat Snake (Pytas korros) coiled up in a bush! Our lucky snake streak continues…We reached the area we had decided to release Bob and were happy to see that there was a good amount of water in the stream and all around us we could hear frogs. We knew there would be other food sources around too as we’ve seen seen rats, large lizards and birds in the same area.After I placed Bob on a nice flat rock by the water, he stayed still just long enough to get a photo and then he took of up stream swimming through the water, then slipping effortlesssly across the boulders.As we watched him slither away we couldn’t help but notice how his beautiful markings served as great camouflage against the background of dead leaves and muddy boulders in the stream.I hope Bob is doing well and we really hope that he will steer clear of humans in the future! Thanks to Linnea and Lek for taking the time to catch Bob and giving him to us for a safe release (and a 2nd chance at life). Most snakes in Thailand aren’t this lucky.