Forget everything you might have seen in any so-called 'Snake Farm' in tourist regions of Thailand. If you are even just a bit curious about the world of reptiles the Bangkok Snake Farm at the Red Cross Institute is a real revelation. It's informative as much as fascinating and can even help fight some of the unjustified fear of these animals you may have. It is surprising to realize how few snakes are actually dangerous and how many are a blessing to have around your house.
The Farm is located at the intersection of Rama IV and Henry Dunant roads in the very centre of town, not exactly where you'd expect to find such a large collection of ophidians as usually they are kept outside town. The reason is that the farm is in fact a part of the Thai Red Cross Institute, next to the Chulalongkorn Hospital and University.
The farm has a large and very well-maintained clean display of vivariums distributed along a concrete path and each display features a description of each species. It is interesting but apart from the fact that the collection is a lot larger than anywhere else, it's not all that exciting... so far.
At 14:30 on week days and 11:00 on weekends, things start to get really exciting here. Visitors are invited to take their place in a small auditorium located on the side of the zoo and a keeper will casually walk in with a large snake in his hands. After a little gasp from the audience, a doctor starts telling you a few things about the snake you are looking at, as well as the world of snakes in general. Key facts are explained in a very good English and what strikes the most is the real knowledge of, and the respect shown to the snakes. You can feel the passion in the way the doctor describes the living habits of this particular reptile and whether you should fear it or praise it for helping farmers to get rid of pests.
Snakes are to be handled with care and not abused as is unfortunately often the case in local shows. The most impressive are the cobras, always prompt to raise and adopt their unmistakable defensive posture and the sheer size of the king cobra never fails to inspire fear, respect or curiosity from the audience. The amount of snakes presented is surprising and many of them are simply beautiful, from a bright green tree snake to an amazing rainbow snake with its scales changing colour in the sunlight, a fascinating but highly venomous banded krait with yellow and black stripes and a radiated rat snake adopting its very intimidating pose.
Surprisingly the audience sits or stands quite near the snake 'stage' and as the animals are brought in and out, photographers tend to come closer and closer, but the many handlers always appear vigilant and confident. Youngsters definitely love the show and when the giant albino boa constrictor is brought in, kids are always ready to be the ones to handle it... unlike the adults! Boas are actually very friendly and love to gently wrap themselves around people.
Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute also specialises in the husbandry of venomous snakes, extracting venom to produce antidote for the entire country and both the show and the snake 'milking' is a unique moment. You might even start liking them and appreciate their very own beauty after seeing this show.
Bangkok Snake Farm
- Highlights: Snake Handling Demonstration starts at 14:30 on weekdays and 11:00 on weekends and holidays
- Opening Hours: 08:30 to 16:30 pm on weekdays - 08:30 to noon on weekends and holidays
- Location: Thai Red Cross Institute, at the intersection of Rama IV and Henry Dunant roads
- Tel: 0 (2) 252 0161