Fancy Colored Snakes

Last week Thai wildlife officers captured a monacled cobra. These snakes cause more deaths in Thailand than anywhere else in Southeast Asia, since the Naja kaouthia’s venom can cause death in less than an hour. I have seen them in pits at zoos. Nothing scares me more.

One monsoon season I was staying on Koh Phi Phi. I returned home from the kathoey bar to my bungalow. Something shadowy was resting on my window sill. I thought they were my socks, even though I hadn’t worn thong tao or ถุงเท้า for months. I reached for them to hear a warning hiss. I jumped back from danger and flicked on the light to discover a brown snake showing its fangs. It slithered away with alarming speed and I fled the bungalow, as Adam should have run from Eve in the Garden of Eden.

A Thai ladyboy at the bar laughed and explained, “It brown snake. Not have color. Not poison. Snake run. Not death. Stay fight. Dead. Sure. You want beer?”

“Dai lueey.” I wanted more than one.

I’m from New England.

Our most common snake is the garter snake.

Very friendly and the color of St. Padraic’s Day.

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