Watch: Bangkok snake catchers flat out as reptiles slither into homes in rocketing numbers



Associated Press

Bangkok's fire brigade is having to deal with a new problem in the Thai capital - a huge growth in the number of snakes making their way into urban homes.

The Thai capital's fire brigade now gets more calls to catch snakes than to put out fires, with snake reports up 30 per cent this year.
Source: Associated Press

City authorities say the number of snakes caught in Bangkok households has risen exponentially in recent years, from 16,000 reported cases in 2013 to about 29,000 in 2016. 

Figures for the first half of 2017 are over 30 per cent higher than last year. 

The Associated Press joined firemen on a typical day at Bangkhen fire station and it wasn't long before a radio operator received an incident report concerning a snake.

A two-metre-long python was dangling from the caller's garage roof, and after rushing to the scene, it took duty fireman Phinyo Pukphinyo less than a minute to remove the slithering reptile. 

Callouts such as this are so common for the firemen that they now have no choice but to "learn how to handle them," Phinyo said, adding that his fire station now gets more calls to catch snakes than to put out fires. 

Phinyo can now identify most types of snakes and has become an in-house instructor who teaches other firefighters how to safely capture the wriggly reptiles. 

The huge python Phinyo's team caught was not the first of the day, or the last either. 

Hours later, the station was called to remove a green snake found in the bathroom of another Bangkok resident, who apologised to the firefighters for calling them for the third time this year. 

Bangkok's low-lying landscape makes it prone to floods during the rainy season, which invites snakes and other reptiles such as monitor lizards. 

While the city's rubbish problem makes the situation even worse.

The Thai capital is producing more trash every year, which it struggles to manage.

The city has produced around 10,454 tons of rubbish per day this year, up from 8,943 tons daily in 2011, according to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. 

Piya Saereerak, a veterinarian who works for the Thai government's Department of National Parks and Wildlife, said Bangkok's snake invasion is sustained by the growing pile of rubbish, which attracts more rats and birds; favoured prey for serpents. 

Piya heads a wildlife clinic that takes in around 300 to 400 snakes a month from rescuers such as firefighters in Bangkok. 

Every week, the staff from his clinic releases truckloads of snakes caught in the city into the jungle. 

Piya's advice to Bangkok's residents is to keep the city clean in order to keep the snakes away. 

However he added that most snakes found in Bangkok homes and apartments are harmless and any venomous ones can be handled by the firemen.

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