Snakes, rat-borne disease, mosquito clouds, more snakes

Last night Joanna and I finally got to speak with Ms. Namfon Cutter, the extraordinary scientist running an all-out multi-pronged research and community outreach endeavor to save the fishing cat in Thailand. We are more excited than ever to go, but we learned a few things that simultaneously fascinated and horrified. Namely there are snakes, lots and lots of venomous snakes.

Now I actually really like snakes. They are cool customers, look bizarre, and have all sorts of interesting behaviors. Take Australia’s spotted python, which can hang from cave walls and catch flying bats in the dark. But I have to admit the hairs on my neck raise at the thought that we’ll be sitting for hours on end in blinds or be picking our way through marshland in a land blessed with stealthy venom-toting critters. Thailand boasts the spitting cobra, king cobra, coral snake, chain viper, the pit viper, and something called the kraits, which I’ve never heard of until now, but let’s just say it looks like a Where’s Waldo scarf gone bad, and that looks to be the nicest thing I can say about it. All told there are at least 60 poisonous snakes in Thailand, often lovingly described as, “Strong poison, deadly!” by the Siam-info website.

Besides the fun of snakes, we get clouds of mosquitoes (non-malarial thank god) and a particularly nasty rat-borne disease called leptospirosis. It sounds like Dengue Fever on steroids. This gem is a bacteria that can enter your body through cuts in the skin exposed to water infused with the urine of animal carriers, in this case rats. The light in this tale is that the disease has low occurrences in the southern region of Thailand — where we’ll be — possibly thanks to the fishing cat. More on that in a later post.

So there you have it. The less than glamorous side of our working conditions when we get to Thailand. We can’t wait. And so long as I’m never at the fanged end of any of the aforementioned snakes, I’m even excited to see them too.

 

PS – If there are any bee-keeping, mosquito-netting specialist companies who’d want to sponsor us. You’d probably end up being our favorite people.

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