Early in my time in Bangkok I had a friend tell me that there was a great snake farm in Bangkok that I should check out. Apparently there’s a “bad” one that is just a tourist trap where snakes are basically abused, then a good one run by the Red Cross where snakes are cared for well and used for venom research. The good one is the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute – I got to visit it and it was fantastic.

reticulated python Python reticulatus
Reticulated Python
burmese python Python bivittatus bivittatus
Burmese Python
copperhead racer Coelognathus radiata Queen Saovabha Snake Farm
Copperhead Racer
oriental rat snake Ptyas mucosus
Oriental Rat Snake
oriental rat snake Ptyas mucosus head shot
Oriental Rat Snake
indo-chinese rat snake Ptyas korros
Indo-Chinese Rat Snake
banded kukri Oligodon fasciolatus
Banded Kukri Snake
long-nosed whip snake Ahaetulla nasuta head shot
Long-nosed Whip Snake
Red-necked Keelback
red-tailed pipe snake Cylindrophis ruffus
Red-tailed Pipe Snakes
puff-faced water snake Homalopsis buccata
Jack’s Water Snake
russell's viper Daboia russelii siamensis lifting head up
Eastern Russell’s Viper
Malayan Pit Viper
white-lipped pit viper Cryptelytrops albolabris
White-lipped Pit Viper
large-eyed green pit viper Cryptelytrops macrops
Large-eyed Pit Viper
Mangrove Pit Viper Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus
Mangrove Pit Viper
monocled cobra Naja kaouthia hood
Monocled Cobra
King Cobra
banded krait Bungarus fasciatus head shot
Banded Krait
Malayan Krait Bungarus candidus
Malayan Krait

As you can see, there were many different species of snakes represented. Though there are a few exotics mixed in, the focus is on the species native to Bangkok, and nearly all of the common non-venomous species local to Bangkok are displayed. In addition, the snake farm had many of the vipers, cobras, and kraits native to the rest of Thailand.

Feeding time was neat – here frogs and frog legs are the default snake food.

oriental rat snake Ptyas mucosus eating frog
Blue Krait Bungarus candidus feeding
Malayan Krait Bungarus candidus feeding
banded krait Bungarus fasciatus eating frog legs
banded krait Bungarus fasciatus about to eat frog lets

In the morning they had a milking demonstration. Venomous snakes are milked to extract venom, which is then used in the production of antivenom which is given to snakebite victims in order to counteract the snake bite’s effect. After a short video on the history of the snake farm, a speaker talked about the venom program and what the antivenom is used for, then three employees pinned and milked one monacled cobra each.

monocled cobra Naja kaouthia being pinned
Monocled Cobra being pinned for milking at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm
monocled cobra Naja kaouthia milking
Monocled Cobra being milked at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm
monocled cobra Naja kaouthia milking closeup

There was a small, decent museum on snakes. Again, all the information was accurate and appreciated. I took a photo of their display of the results of snakebite. This is why you should not pick up venomous species – notice how many of the bites are on the hand, especially the right hand? It is very likely that the people who got bit on the hand were trying to pick up or kill a venomous snake. And the bites that are not on the right hand are on the foot – watch where you step when you’re in snake country!

Remember – if you are bit by a venomous snake, the most important thing to do is to stay calm, try to identify the snake (take a picture if possible), and have someone take you to the hospital immediately. The antivenom produced by the Red Cross Snake Farm is very effective, but the sooner you get it the better.

In the afternoon there was a snake-handling show but I wasn’t able to attend. Overall I was very happy with the quality of exhibit space and information at the snake farm – it was the most competent display of animals I had seen in Asia. I would recommend the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute to anyone who wants to learn more about our local snake species and the work being done to save lives.