Chances are if you’re from the western world one reason you fell in love with Phuket is for the tropical weather. Sure, it can be a bit toasty at times, but the memory of that slight discomfort is easily whisked away by a refreshing, salty sea breeze when relaxing in the shade. For many, it’s a small price to pay for not having to endure another cold, dark winter.
However, you can’t only pick out the best things about tropical living – it’s not all swaying coconut trees and mai tais. Just as creatures like ourselves enjoy this environment, so do a lengthy list of reptiles, insects, and other creepy crawlies, some of which have the ability to ruin your day should they feel threatened.
Snake King Cobra | Credit: wallpapercave
As the creature that probably occupies peoples’ nightmares more than any other, let’s start with this one. Sporting an ideal habitat, it should come as no surprise that more than 200 species of snake can be found in Thailand. Of those, about three dozen are venomous. It is understandable that many are terrified of these serpents, and it’s undeniable that they can be dangerous. However, they play a vital role in the ecosystem feeding on frogs and rats helping to keep populations in check. It’s also worth noting that bites from venomous snakes in Thailand have become quite rare so although it’s prudent to be aware, don’t live in fear.
While there are several venomous species to possibly have a run-in with in Phuket like kraits and vipers, a cobra is probably the most likely. Cobras really want nothing to do with you and will avoid confrontation, but that demeanor will quickly change if threatened or they have a brood of eggs. Some vipers are very small, but very venomous and aggressive. Always be extremely careful if walking in tall grass, or avoid it altogether. Don’t blindly reach behind or underneath things outside. If you encounter a snake, do not act aggressively towards it or corner it. If you need a snake removed, call the tourist police by dialing 1155. For snake identification or information, check the Facebook group called Snakes of Phuket. If you’ve been bitten by a snake, try to get a clear photo of it for treatment purposes. Vachira Hospital is best equipped for treating snake bites.
Centipedes in Phuket| Credit: thethaiger
In some ways these are more dangerous than snakes as they are far more plentiful so your chances of being stung or greater.
These devilish little insects are all over the place in Phuket. Although you won’t often see them wandering about, there is likely one hiding under a flower pot near you right now. There are several species around, but no reason to dwell on the details, simply avoid them at all costs. One species can grow to 25-30cm (10-12 inches) long and looks universally menacing. Not only does their appearance scream danger, but they are unnervingly fast and aggressive. If stung you can expect severe pain for several days, and a visit to the hospital is probably in the cards. Perhaps not foremost on the mind if stung, but you should get a good photo or catch it for identification and treatment.
Death is rare from a centipede sting, but it happens. If a cat or dog suffers a mysterious death, a sting from one of these many-legged monsters is a likely culprit. Centipedes love to hide underneath things that are sitting directly on ground or burrow into loose potting soil. As such, don’t blindly stick your hands under things outside and it’s a good idea to use tools, or at least wear gloves, when gardening.
Scorpion - KHAO SOK National Park| Credit: khaosok.com
Here’s another creature that takes a form to inflict fear in many. Thailand is home to 18 species of scorpion which range from black to light brown and range from 20cm (8 inches) to the size of your thumbnail. They are not super speedy nor overly aggressive, but will certainly sting if stepped on. A sting isn’t fun, but no worse than a bee or wasp sting. Hospitalization typically isn’t necessary unless you have an allergic reaction and suffer anaphylactic shock. Generally speaking, the sting of the larger black ones most commonly seen is less than that of the smaller brown ones. If curious, you can get stung by both and compare, but that isn’t highly recommended. Stay safe out there!