Have you been to Bangkok’s Snake Farm at the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute of the Thai Red Cross Society? Established in 1923, it is among the city’s oldest and most educational attractions where you can safely bring children to see some of the more frightening, but still fascinating aspects of the reptile world. It’s definitely quite different to the kind of touristy snake farms found in other parts of the country. Be warned, however, the Snake Farm is not for the faint of heart!
Educating the Public about Snakes
The farm was initially set up to explore and study the properties inherent in snake venom, and to this end they have public snake-milking and snake-handling demonstrations. The former shows the live extraction of snake venom from the animal’s fangs, which is then used to make snake-bite antidotes. The latter demonstrates how to safely handle a variety of colourful snakes, from a harmless green tree snake to the venomous striped Banded Krait and the distinctive and intimidating King Cobra. Visitors also have the chance to actually hold a python or the giant albino boa constrictor, if so inclined.
The facility also serves as an educational centre that offers programs to the public, students and tourists about dealing with snakes in the wild and urban environments. It teaches visitors how to tell harmless snakes from dangerous ones and conveys what to do if you encounter a dangerous snake. Thousands of beneficial snakes are killed every year simply because people are accustomed to the misguided idea that all snakes are dangerous. Knowing the difference between the dangerous ones and the harmless ones will help ensure the survival of all species of snakes.
Refurbished in 2009, the farm now includes an Outdoor Serpentarium, with a wide variety of kraits, cobras, adders and pythons plus some of the more harmless varieties of snake in well-maintained glass-walled enclosures, as well as a walk-in garden that is home to various snake habitats. Alongside this is the museum, featuring multimedia displays on the life cycle of snakes, their anatomy, toxicology, mythology and first-aid for snakebite victims.
When and Where to Go
The opening hours are from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM on weekdays and 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM on weekends. The morning is the best time to visit as the snakes are most active at this time of day. The venom extraction and English-language commentary by a knowledgeable host takes place at 11 AM daily, followed by the snake handling demo at 2:30 PM (Monday to Friday only).
The farm is located at the intersection of Rama IV and Henry Dunant roads, near Lumpini Park. It’s about a five-minute walk from the Silom MRT station, so it’s easily accessible.
The entrance fee is 200 baht for adults and 50 baht for children. For more information about the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute Snake Farm, please visit their website.