Juvenile Indochinese Spitting Cobra

Hello,

Many times we mentioned how hard is for our team to locate and capture new individuals for our study. Mostly we work with adult cobras. This time we were lucky. Our colleague, Tyler, encounter a juvenile spitter. Luckily for us it was moving in a fallow field and sheltered in a dirt crevasse. Nice and easy capture.

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We got him!

On the night of 23.08.2017, we received a snake rescue call on a property from the village in which we work. We were informed that the boy who lived on the property heard their chickens were in distress. On inspection of the chicken coop, the boy found a cobra has envenomated one of the chickens. The boy had startled the snake as it had hooded at him and then made an escape.

Once we arrived at the scene, the chicken was found to have been bitten on the face and had to be euthanised at the scene to prevent any more suffering. A lot of effort was put into finding the snake by inspecting the property thoroughly by digging out any holes which the snake may be hiding, yet there was no luck.

We informed the residents of all information needed in case they encounter another cobra and told them do not hesitate to ring us if any snake returns.

The following day we received another call from the same residence saying a cobra was on the property. On arrival it was found that the cobra had returned to the exact same chicken coop. However, this time the snake had chose a toad as its meal, rather than chicken.

The snake noticed us and tried to make his escape, still with the toad in its mouth, but in its rush hit a wall and dropped its prey in the process. This enabled us to capture the snake and the toad. Remarkably, the toad survived for over 10 hours after envenomation.

Snake is a healthy adult male of Indochinese Spitting Cobra Naja siamensis.

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After good amount of outreach local villagers were happy to hear about our project and allowed us to visit their property any time we need to radiotrack our snakes or look for new ones. Additionally they were persuading their neighbors about importance of our work in the village. LOVE IT.

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Nasi014 capture

On 4th of July we had rescue call. People called us saying that the have King Cobra at their house. At the site it turned out that snake is actually Indochinese Spitting Cobra. Nasi014 is 1.3 m and 432 g  male. After implantation with radio transmitter this snake is part of our project. Interesting is that this snake share at least part of its home range with Opha019 (2.7 m King Cobra) radio tracked by Sakaerat Conservation and Snake Education Team.

First picture made by Cameron Hodges show snake as found in the house.

We wish this snake good luck. There is at least on hungry King Cobra around…

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Snake handling workshop for Rescue Teams

On 10th of July we had pleasure to be part of very special event. With Sakaerat Conservation and Snake Education Team and Sakaerat Environmental Research Station we hosted over 90 people from Rescue Teams. These people help rural communities in first aid, medical services, snake rescues and others.

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Workshops started with presentation about snake ecology and their importance in ecosystems.

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What makes me really happy is thet they treated it seriously… Quite few of them was even taking notes!!

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In between lectures we invited guests to our field laboratory, where we presented them several snake species  including Siamese Cat Snake Boiga siamensis and Wolf Snake Lycodon laoensis. 

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After exciting time with snakes we had nice meal. On the right side of the picture below there is Mr. Mee. He is one of main characters responsible for such a high interest in our snake handling training.  Currently he is working on bringing here more teams from across the Thailand. Good guy!

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After lectures there was time for some practice. Here I am teaching how to set up bagging system properly.

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Some of the students took workshop less seriously than others … 🙂

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After sorting out baggers was time for snake handling presentations. We started with non venomous snakes like: 2m Oriental Rat Snake Ptyas mucosa and 12kg and 3 m Burmese Python Python bivittatus. Interesting fact about python is that this snake was capture night before the workshop and actually it is individual that we rescue from net almost two years before. On picture below me and Manuel are assisting volunteers with  handling big girl.

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After non venomous snakes came time for “hot” stuff. First Curt and Mee shown how to work with Green Pit Vipers.

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Last attraction of “snake show” was presentation on how to work with Monocled Cobra Naja kaouthia. In first place we presented new technique that me and Curt learned on our trip to India. DSC04666DSC04664

Idea is to use snake natural instinct to shelter in stress situations. We used PVC pipe with bag attached to one end. Rocks around pipe help to stabilize it and imitate a natural shelter. Next step was to present snake to the set up.

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It is really good technique that works almost every time. Now we are looking forward to individual teams visiting us for an intensive snake handling training. Whole day was very demanding and exciting. Thank you all for your input! We made to nationwide news!

NAJA project update

Sorry for delays between posts. Things have been a bit manic on Naja team lately and we are now looking to get organised and stick to weekly updates (if our snakes cooperate). Just to give everyone a better idea of where we are at, here’s a quick summary of the last few months, what us, and our snakes have been up to:

NASI003 and NASI009

It is with heavy hearts that we can confirm that two of our radio tracked Naja siamensis individuals have been killed. NASI003 appears to have been eaten in the village, as we found the transmitter looking suspiciously clean in the bushes next to a house.  NASI009 was unfortunately pancaked onto the highway. What’s left of him, and the transmitter have been laid to rest in Bart’s fridge. What’s worse, it seems that both our snakes died on Christmas day! So all in all we are now down to just 3 snakes, a pretty devastating blow to the project (and our sample size!).

NAKA012 has been up to his old tricks, dragging Bart, Sami and Curtis through forests, thorns and more spider webs than you can count. However he has reduced his movements within the last few months (no doubt warming up for rainy season).

NAKA003 has remained in close proximity to the station making daily checks pretty easy.

NASI011, our most recently captured snake, has spent most of the last 3 months in a single hole. She’s just started venturing off into the villages so hopefully she’ll start to give us some interesting data soon (while staying out of trouble).

Curtis left!

So in early February after 6 months of hard work, Curtis Radcliffe, the Naja project’s 1st volunteer departed for home. Curtis was an excellent tracker and has been absolutely invaluable for the running of this project. We wish him all the best, and hope to convince him to come back out soon!

New volunteer!

So on a more uplifting note, the Naja project has recently been joined by our newest volunteer: Lydia Snow (and now her watch begins). You can find a bit out about Lydia Snow and what she’s been getting up to here.

So all in all a pretty busy few months. We are just now leaving cold season (below 20 degrees in the day, how did we even cope) and entering hot season (plus 40 in the day, motorbike seats have become a serious burn hazard!). This likely means more activity from our cobras, and hopefully, finding more snakes for the project.

We will keep you updated on our progress, snakes and any developments we have on the project. Stay tuned!

 

Nasi011

In beginning of last December Naja Team was chilling in the evening, enjoying well earned few beers. Everything was going smooth. Believe It or not we did not even talked about snakes for most of the time. In middle of our time off  we received snake call. This time it was not crazy, rush call. Snake was already captured and baged by the villagers. First time in good while we went without pushing the tempo to pick up cobra from someone’s household. When we arrived to the site, villagers were relaxing like nothing happened, enjoying their beers and rice wine. They gave us  bag with cobra inside. They told as that snake was spotted moving out of the toilet… seams that cobras like toilets. Any way, snake was not harmed while capture and that made us really happy.

What make us really happy is that Nasi011 is within home range of Nasi009 male. We were looking forward so much for breeding season… Why past tense? You will learn very soon…

Ladies and gents this is Indochinese Spitting Cobra Naja siamensis Nasi011, 1.4 m, 750 g, female.

 

Nasi009 Capture and Release

NASI009 Release

Indochinese Spitting Cobra Naja siamensis by Ben Marshall

It was a pretty standard Monday with everyone on the snake team going about their business, but that was to change with a single phone call and with it the 28th of September would see the introduction of a new snake to the Naja project. The message came through that a snake, possibly a cobra, was in a house in one of the local villages. Colin, Curt, Matt and Wyatt leapt in to action, jumping into the truck and racing off to find the house in question. On their arrival the snake was cornered with the gentleman of the house poking the now seriously annoyed snake with a large stick. Colin together with the local Rescue team made their way past the guy and despite the confines of the house, using all their skill and knowhow gained control of the snake. Within moments the snake was bagged and boxed ready for transportation back to the station. The snake was a Naja siamensis or Indochinese Spitting Cobra, perfect for the project.

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The next day it was hoped that the new snake might have calmed down but that wasn’t to be and a few of us were given an up close and personal demonstration of their renowned spitting ability getting caught with a carefully aimed dose of venom, thankfully out protective clothing did its job. A quick afternoon procedure and Nasi009 was officially on the team. A few hours of rest and recuperation, and by the early evening Nasi009 was ready for release. A small team of us set out on bikes to a plantation by the village where the snake had been captured, as the Sakaerat snake team does not agree with the translocation of snakes to entirely new areas. The spot was chosen and cameras were at the ready but yet again Nasi009 was in no mood to play ball. The first chance he had the snake was out of the box and heading for the dense vegetation, barely giving anyone a chance to press a button and take a photo. Thankfully however Ben was in no mood to miss his opportunity, as you can see at the top, with the reflexes of a quick draw gunslinger he was able to focus and shoot his prey as it sped off into the bush. So that was that, the project had its second Naja siamensis and a third snake to track.

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Photo credit Ben Marshall

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