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Damn Cobra!

After yesterday’s cobra incident, now I’m afraid to go Bukit Gasing alone. Damn!

Angie was leading yesterday & she kept turning behind to talk to us. Luckily she turned back to the front in time to see the cobra’s tail sprawling across part of the track before mindlessly stepping on it! I was behind her when she suddenly stopped, u-turned & walked back swiftly, then I saw that long, fat tail on the ground. Its head was ‘standing up’ and looking away from us. But it was totally still. I believe it was crossing the track when we bump into it, and it didn’t move because it was just as stunned to see us as we were to see it. 😛 Anyway, after turning back, in less than a minute, we met a group of 2 guys & a girl, so we told them about the snake but they decided to go ahead with some sticks in hand, so we followed behind and when we reached the spot again, it was already gone. So technically, it was only meant for the 3 of us to see it. Hmm…I was telling CPL how lucky she was because in my whole 3 years of hiking in Bukit Gasing, I hadn’t seen anything at all…and yesterday, out of the blue she decided to join us and we saw a snake. There must be some correlation here. Must be. Haha.

We believe it was a cobra because only cobras are able to rear up their heads. However this one didn’t look like a king cobra to me because it was smooth shiny black. I don’t know, the king cobras I had encountered before were all silver greyish with scaly bodies. And they always like to spread their necks, but this one didn’t. And I would know a king cobra when I see one because one of its kind killed my most beloved dog, Simon, 19 years ago. Simon was a Samoyed pure breed, and I had him since I was 5, maybe, and he was just a puppy. So we literally grew up together…and because my house was always frequented by snakes from the big bushes behind, over the years he had become an expert snake fighter, a trusted sidekick to my dad & grandpa during battles. A true warrior. Perhaps at that time he was already old, less quick & agile, so finally he lost to a king cobra’s venomous bite during one of the fights. I don’t care if people say that cobras are actually shy in nature & only attack when provoked & that it probably had to kill my dog because its neck was ‘on the chopping board’ inside his mouth at that time….but the fact remains that my dog is dead & that makes the king cobras my enemy forever!

Anyway, since I still intend to hike at Bukit Gasing, I decided to google about them. Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

So, from my childhood experience & some websites I found, here are some facts about snakes & tips for hikers on avoiding snake bites:

  • To kill a snake, go straight for the head.
  • The only stick that can kill a snake is the bamboo. It’s the only stick that is hard enough to smash the head to death.
  • Snakes are afraid of / will stay away from geese & sulphur (so carrying some sulphur if you’re going into the woods may be a good idea).
  • Not all snakes are venomous, but don’t take chances anyway.
  • Cobras are one of the most venomous snakes in the world. King cobra is one of the members in the cobra family.
  • King cobras are shy and will avoid humans whenever possible, but they are fiercely aggressive when cornered. They will flatten their neck, showing the fangs and hissing loudly as a sign of threat (see National Geographic & Wikipedia)
  • Most snakes don’t normally attack human unless disturbed too.
  • So try to remain on the hiking paths & stay away from tall grasses. Avoid confrontations with them if you see them & they will leave you alone too.
  • Check out the profile of different snakes at the Venomous Snakes website.

If you or your friend are bitten by a snake (summarized from the Malaysia’s Nature Heritage website):

  • Don’t panic. The effects of venom are increased drastically by a person under immense stress and anxiety.
  • Do NOT cut the wound or attempt sucking out the venom.
  • Do NOT attempt to do arterial tourniquets (strapping the affected part tightly to control the blood flow). Just apply a pressure bandage is sufficient.
  • Immediately go to the nearest government hospital. Don’t bother going to a private clinic or hospital because they don’t normally keep the antivenin because it is too expensive.
  • Take note on its characteristics for easier identification of its species later in order to determine whether it is a venomous bite or not, and the type of treatment required.

More facts about snake bites can be found in Dr Chew’s blog on Emergency Medicine.

If you want to know more about treating snake bites, you can also try reading the article: Snake Envenomation: Cobra

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