The author has lived in Thailand for several years and is aware of the many dangers that beset unwary visitors.
Let's face it, there is always a downside and it's always a good idea to be prepared for the bad things that might happen health and safety-wise.
The creatures described below certainly shouldn't discourage you from visiting one of the world's great holiday destinations. The sun, coral seas, welcoming people, spectacular landscapes and fantastic food more than compensate for the small risk of encountering something nasty.
Dangerous Animals on this Page
- Poisonous Snakes
- Giant Centipedes
- Lion Fish
- Poisonous Caterpillars
In Thailand, these are always scary and often dangerous.
If there is grass or undergrowth, there is a chance there are snakes, even in city parks or hotel gardens. The good news is most will run (or slither) away if they see you coming. The bad news comes if you stand on one. Beating the grass with a stick might look silly, but if you have to cross open country it’s not a bad idea for your personal safety.
Spitting Cobras are capable of spraying venom into a persons' eyes from three meters, so if you see a snake, give it a wide berth. Trying to kill a snake is an especially dangerous activity. The genuinely dangerous varieties, especially cobras and pit vipers, will not try to escape, they will attack.
If the worst comes to the worst and you are bitten, don’t worry about identifying the snake, go straight to a hospital. Thailand has an excellent health system that is well used to snake bites. If you you receive care within an hour or two you should be fine. Roughly 7000 snake bites occur every year (rather less than occur in the US) but there are only thirty or so deaths. In Thailand, travel insurance is recommended since treatment can be costly- around 200 dollars a night, depending on location.
First Aid for Venomous Snake Bites
First aid for snake bites involves washing the wound with soap and water, immobilizing the bitten area and keeping the wound lower than the heart. If a hospital is more than half an hour away a bandage can be used a few inches above the wound to reduce the spread of venom. The bandage should be loose enough to work a finger beneath or restriction of blood flow can cause injury.
Some grisly photos can be found buried away in this pdf: snake bite photos pdf
Giant centipedes are found all over Thailand, in urban areas as well as forests and can grow to the size of a man's forearm. Like a lot of insects in the tropics, if it rains heavily, giant centipedes like to come indoors to avoid drowning. A shoe or bag can provide a handy place for the creatures to hide and if they are surprised and can't escape they will bite.
Their bite does not kill but for three or four days the victim will be in serious pain- even a shot of morphine from the local hospital will only take the edge off.
The bite marks are similar to those of a small snake and centipede bites can be mistaken for snake bites in the dark. The victim requires anti-tetanus, painkillers and rest. In the case of allergic reaction, breathing support may be necessary,
They are plenty big enough to notice in the day but for your own safety never walk around without shoes in the dark, even indoors!
Sharks are not a problem in Thai waters, so jellyfish are the most dangerous animal you are likely to encounter while swimming. They can cause a lot of pain and leave injuries that take weeks to heal. In extreme cases, ugly scars remain.
Avoid swimming during overcast periods or after storms. Strong sun is dangerous to jellyfish and they won’t come close to shore in good weather,. If stung, remove any jelly from the skin carefully and bathe with vinegar if available. Freshwater will make the pain worse.
If stings cover a large area of your body or the pain is severe, a trip to hospital is worthwhile. A single fatality was reported recently in Phuket.
Dead coral can be razor sharp and cause nasty cuts. Living coral can cause stings similar to jellyfish. Divers and snorkelers should be aware.
Mosquitoes can be a serious threat to health in Thailand, transmitting Malaria, Dengue Fever or Japanese Encephalitis, but even if these dire diseases did not exist, these insects can spoil a holiday purely by their irritation factor.
Mosquitoes avoid sunlight and are mostly a problem at night. Even so, during daylight hours they can be about their business in shady places- under trees, under restaurant tables and in poorly lit interiors. Covering up at night with long sleeves and trousers is a good option but be aware that the larger varieties can pierce cotton to reach a meal.
Most bites will only cause minor irritation but If you are allergic to them, the reaction can lead to large maddening swellings that take days to subside.
Most local pharmacies have English speakers who can recommend a range of preparations to reduce annoyance. ‘Tiger Balm' ointment contains a natural anesthetic and is a favorite with Thais. 'Clobet cream' is a widely available anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, cortisone cream.
Whilst modern buildings are generally well screened from mosquitoes, picturesque beach cottages made from bamboo often are not. If a mosquito net is provided for sleeping, it really is a good idea to use it. Outdoors, insect repellents based on DEET offer genuinely effective protection. The first evening that you forget, you will realize just how effective!
These can the size of your hand and they are surprisingly quick. Strangely, the smaller they are the more painful the sting since the poison in their bulbous tails is usually more concentrated. The legend is they are attracted by the smell of stale beer so get rid of empty bottles swiftly.
Black Scorpions, the most common variety in Thailand, very rarely deliver a fatal sting and aren't thought of as a serious health risk. In fact, compared to their lethal cousins in Mexico and the Middle East the sting is said to be mild.
Prompt hospital treatment is recommended, however, as some people suffer severe allergic reactions. In a recent case, a Welsh man died in his home country many weeks after being stung in Thailand.
Treatment consists of anti-venom administration, support for breathing if necessary, antibiotics and anti-tetanus injections. Application of ice packs can reduce pain.
Thailand has plenty of big scary-looking spiders but only a few species will bite a human being. This still means thousands of bites every year.
Luckily, deaths from spider bites are very rare- less than 3 per year across the whole world and these are generally a result of allergic reactions.
The most dangerous spiders in Thailand are mainly forest dwellers. Some Tarantula species have a reputation for aggression and the bites are painful and best treated in hospital with anti-venom. Symptoms can include swelling, exhaustion, muscle cramping, difficulty breathing and fever. Sometimes, these occur days after the bite.
For your safety, empty out shoes and shake clothes before wearing, especially in rural areas!
There are more species of ants in Thailand than anyone has had the time to count. They do not run away if they chance on you. They attack! The larger varieties usually rely on brute strength to vanquish their insect enemies. These will only give you a nip with their powerful jaws. The smaller ones- and some are so small they are barely visible- have all sorts of poisons and allergens to inject into your skin. After a day or so, the worst bites can feel as if someone is slowly driving a spear through your body. Watch out for ants at all times!
The best defense is hygiene: any food residues in a house or hotel will quickly attract columns of ants, as will food stains on clothes. Cortisone creams will reduce inflammation and pain effectively if you are bitten. Local remedies like Tiger Balm are less effective.
Brightly colored insects are often poisonous. Bright colours advertise danger and discourage other animals from attacking, Caterpillars are no exception. The creatures pictured have poisonous hairs which they can eject into the air. Any that land on your skin will drive you crazy. Some species are reputed to be capable of killing a small dog. Thai people call them Buung Haan.
Lion Fish are one of the most venomous fish in the open sea. The spines are actively used to inject toxins into any living thing that approaches too closely. In human beings, the result is acute pain with the possibility of breathing problems and vomiting. Hospital treatment is strongly recommended although the poison is almost never lethal.
It is very rarely found near sandy beaches so is not dangerous to swimmers. Divers and snorkelers should be aware of the safety issue.
Dogs are a big part of life in Thailand. People keep increasing numbers as pets. There is also a massive stray population which can have significant health implications..
In towns, many dogs wander free, often sleeping on major roads whilst the traffic carefully winds around them. Eradication programs are out of the question because of the Buddhist respect for life. Sterilization programs have proved ineffective.
Stray dogs in Thailand are generally docile but they can be intimidating in large packs at night and some will bite if they feel threatened.
One of the best ways of dealing with aggressive dogs is to back away whilst maintaining eye contact and being willing to defend yourself. Thais will not hesitate to a use a stick or stone in self defense, neither should you.
If you are bitten, it is essential to get treatment immediately because of the widespread problem of rabies in Thailand. Again, travel insurance is highly recommended.
Monkeys running Wild
Genuinely wild monkeys are wary of human beings and won't approach people too closely. In some tourist locations, however, and around certain temples where they are tolerated, many monkeys have lost their natural fear and beg for food. They are cute when they are getting what they want but can sometimes be a menace, especially in large numbers.
Like monkeys anywhere, these creatures will steal anything, especially if it is edible. They can unzip bags and tear through the contents. They can rip mirrors from cars and motor cycles. They may even try to bully you out of a snack. This can be scary for children and sometimes a threat to their safety. Stand up to them-use sticks and stones if you have to- and they back off.
If you are bitten go to a hospital immediately as there is a risk of rabies.
Leeches are common amongst wet vegetation and in still waters.
In water, they actively swim towards any disturbance.
On land, if they detect the presence of a human being or an animal they stand up and wave from side to side in a searching motion. If they find contact with skin, they quickly attach themselves with their lower sucker and the head probes the skin for a good place to penetrate.
Minute, razor sharp teeth slice an opening and the head enters. They gorge themselves on up to seven times their own body weight in blood before dropping off.
An anti-coagulant is used to keep the blood flowing during feeding and the wound may bleed for several hours afterwards.
Leeches pose the greatest threat to health in Thailand during flooding in towns and cities. The flood water brings sewage to the surface from drains. Leeches swept in from country areas cause wounds which become infected. During a series of recent floods across Thailand, many thousands of people became ill in this way. The government recommended wearing jeans and tying plastic bags around the feet to keep the leeches at bay- a low tech solution that would probably help.
Thai traveller on March 01, 2020:
Beware of starfishes too, some of them might do some damage to ur skin specially to kids, and some of the starfishes are even poisonous but very rare to see on beach water
Evy/11 on April 17, 2019:
Thailand is sooo fun but some animals there are big and dangerous if you go snorkelling you can see many different kinds of fish but you don’t see many sharks they are rare to see.
Nicole on May 20, 2018:
Can anyone recommend a replicable travel agent who specializes in Thailand vacation trips that are located in Los Angeles California
William on January 23, 2018:
I live in Thailand but I came to LondonI can still write in thai าีสหนดเ่าสก
Gareth on December 14, 2017:
Be careful of Rove beetles
Howard Leasure on August 06, 2017:
I have lived in Thailand for many years. When I lived in America, I handled many creatures that are considered dangerous. I agree with Mr. Stefan 100%. The golden centapede is most iritating and snakes our least concern with precautions. Ants are also very iritating. :)
Stefan @ Reptile Rescue Phangan on May 29, 2017:
Some expert advice! If you don't want to scare of people with Cobras. Just tell them the real truth about these animals. Cobras live almost everywhere on the island. Even in the village under your house. And possibly you will never get to see it unless it gets opaque eyes from the molt, and intrudes your home by accident. Or they look for shelter before the flood kicks in. The manager of the government hospital...(the only hospital with antivenin on Phangan)... knows just about two deadly bite accidents with Monocled Cobras. Both person were to blame themselves. One Thai local tried to kill a cobra. The other one tried to kiss a cobra in one of these ridiculous snake torture shows, where some guys play with the fear of peace loving snakes. I'm handling cobras for relocation on Phangan. None of them ever tried to bite me. And even if someone is so stupid to walk in the dark without light torch on an island with almost 50% national park, and step on a Monocled Cobra, you would be surprised, how low the risk is, to get bitten. But do the math, and follow the link to my homepage, where you'll find a nice video presentation of herpetologist Rom Whitaker. http://reptilerescuephangan.com/interesting-videos...
And by the way... maybe you could correct your text regarding poisonous snakes. Snakes are never poisonous. If you eat a cobra, you wont die. You could even drink the venom. as long you don't have an open wound in your mouth or throat, it wont harm you. Of course it depends on the dosage. If you drink too much alcohol, or eat too many eggs, it can also kill you. ;)
I can just recommend everyone, to always carry a light torch in the pocket. Cobras are the smallest problem. And for pit vipers and kraits we had no proof yet. Just one Malayan Krait on Samui in the past 15 years. This information I got from Phil at Samui Snake Rescue. On Phangan only 2 Small Spotted Coral Snakes. And the rest included our 3 Monitor Lizard species is just mildly or non venomous. But since the great construction boom, and increasing land clearing for plantations, we have almost countless cobra encounters. BUT again... no bite accidents. Scolopender are my greatest fear. And that they just run away, is not entirely true. They attack just everything. My colleagues of the cobra research team at SERS saw a Scolopender hunting an adult Banded Krait, the most venomous snake in Thailand. Also Scolopender ate a venomous krait from the inside out (like in these Alien movies). One more reason to protect cobras... Scolopenders are on their natural diet plan. Before I get accidently in contact with these nasty creatures, I rather have encounters with Monocled Cobras or King Cobras.
Ginny Weasly on May 11, 2017:
Well im going to tiland this winter and im going to die
Sam Shepards from Europe on April 15, 2016:
Cool article. Travelled and hiked a lot there. Never think about the dangerous animals actually. Mosquito and malaria pills are annoying of course.
Tom Bristow on October 31, 2013:
This is a fantastic article and certainly puts people in the picture and hopefully makes people mindful about some of the dangers, when visiting Thailand. I am an expat living in Thailand and I would say the main dangers, when visiting the major popular tourist destinations are mosquitoes, so always remember to wear repellent, Ants , these things are everywhere , it seems that if you leave food unattended for one or two minutes you will get an army of ants on it. And most of all centipedes, as a bite from one of these can be really nasty. snakes are also around in the cities and well built-up areas. Generally, you will not see them. Just remember always be on your gard and don't become complacent. To find more helpful information, take a look at www.accessiblethailand.com
tastiger04 on July 22, 2013:
Great hub! Very interesting....during my years in Asia I was fortunate (or unfortunate!) to run into a cobra. Scary creatures...but reading about them is a pleasure :) Voted up and interesting
Will Apse (author) on March 13, 2013:
Thai people are remarkably accepting. They will certainly do everything that they can to make you feel welcome. If you can speak a little Thai they will like that a lot! Just learning to say 'thank you', is a great step. Thais are very, very polite.
RB on March 13, 2013:
Thank you for the great information! As I've noticed in others' comments, it is difficult to find detailed, honest information such as this and I just wanted to tell you I am grateful for the effort you put into this page and the comments.
My brother is getting married in Thailand, to a Thai woman that he has been seeing for a long time. So I am going there in August, but I am really nervous. I 've lived my whole life in the Northwest Territories, Canada, and I'm afraid I'm about to get the shock of my life! I will be aware of my surroundings and keep your advice in mind!
One thing that concerns me is, I don't want my fear to come across as rude to the people I meet (particularly my new in-laws). I bought a self-teaching Thai language kit so I'm hoping if I try to express myself in their native language, they will not take offence. Or maybe they will find my worries amusing and I'm just overthinking it. Lol. Any thoughts?
Daniel kerr on March 05, 2013:
anyone still use this fab page ?
Marco Strafrace on October 26, 2012:
thanks for this post, was really helpful. We will be spending our honeymoon in Thailand during the first two weeks of May 2013 and we'll be staying in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. Was planning of doing jungle trekking in chiang mai and phuket whilst also island hopping, snorkeling and canoeing in phuket.
We were told that this is monsoon season, however, how bad is it, I mean, will we be stuck indoors due to heavy rains or will we still be able to enjoy our honeymoon? Furthermore, what are the dangers that we might have to look out for?
Thanks a lot for keeping this thread alive and informative.
Will Apse (author) on July 05, 2012:
Jellyfish are horrible. If you get stung it leaves long welts on your skin as if you have been lashed with barbed wire. They only come in shore after storms, though, so you need to very unlucky.
I have seen reports of box jellyfish being spotted but these usually get dismissed as cases of mistaken identity. I have only ever come across one incident in 7 years when someone died, possibly from a jellyfish encounter.
There is nothing that you can do to deter giant centipedes but as I said before, they will try to avoid you and they are very quick.
I reckon, once you are here you will just fall in love with it all and stop worrying...
fredericka on July 05, 2012:
thank you for the page quite helpful , iam going to koh samui for 5 days and 3 days in bangkok and iam quite scared about jellyfish ( box jelly fish) and giant centipedes , snakes , ants and leeches !!!!!!! ASLO sharks :S we will buy DEET for mosquito bites but is there anything for any of the above like jelly fish , or centipedes !??
Tiffany on June 22, 2012:
Thanks for the awesome page. I am thinking a trip to southeast asia but I am horrified of snakes. Any countires and or places that I should steer clear of? I would imagine that most of our trip would consist of larger cities and less jungle trecking :)
Will Apse (author) on June 06, 2012:
Mosquitoes are everywhere but DEET sprays work. There are not many flies about. Bees and wasps are no more of a nuisance than they are in Europe.
I have only come across several scorpions and several giant centipedes in six years, so they are not that common, either.
Koh Phangan is pretty rural but I reckon you should be OK. Just don't sue me if you get bitten!
Rich on June 06, 2012:
Hi, I'm fairly likely to be starting a course in Thailand in the Koh Pangan area, will be likely there for 5 months starting from August, and I have a big phobia of flying insects like mossies, snakes dont bother me, but scorpions and millipeded do as well, do you know how common these are in this area?
Will Apse (author) on May 31, 2012:
The trick with snakes is not to step on them! Blundering around in long grass after dark is a bit risky...
But that said, I am envious of your opportunity to work with elephants last time out and I hope you enjoy this new trip.
Rachel on May 31, 2012:
Great page! I first visited Thailand last August/September and fell in love. I must admit the first time I went I never researched any dangerous animals. I saw quite a lot of centipedes and I'm very sure a cobra jumped out in front of me and quickly made it's way across the path and into the water, however it may have been another snake. I was working with elephants in Phetchaburi area so was fairly remote. What made me think it was a cobra that I saw was that my friend had been told by a local thai that she had found a baby cobra nearby to where I thought I saw a cobra. Scary stuff, but like you've said all along it certainly kept it's distance and fled from the scene. Going back to Thailand on wednesday, can't wait!
Will Apse (author) on April 28, 2012:
Allergic to ants and a non-drinker is a tough one. Most hotels and bars in Phuket keep the ants away. Once you get out into the natural world it is a bit more difficult.
I suppose it depends how allergic you are. I get a moderate allergic reaction to every bite and get by with betnovate cream or similar.
If you are life threateningly allergic to bites from ants or mosquitoes, I would have a word with a doctor.
big greg on April 28, 2012:
hey great page, just booked up for thailand in september, i did not realise about the animals, im from scotland so the worst animal we deal with is the englishman lol joking. My thing is that im highley allergic to ant bites and having read this page it says ants are all over the place, so what's the chance of being bitten? also is there a lot of things to do in phuket for people that dont drink.
Will Apse (author) on April 26, 2012:
Thanks for that Hardy,
I was surprised to hear that bull sharks live around Koh Tao (an island about a hundred km North of Samui). I'm glad they have a peace and love kind of sub culture!
Curcurma longa is tumeric and I have heard of its use in Chinese medicine to treat low energy, stomach problems (very widely used in Thailand for this purpose) and even cancer. I hadn't heard of the use for snake bites.
I think I would try to get the hospital to give me anti venom first but it could be a useful back up!
Hardy on April 26, 2012:
Great article, I concur with all the appreciation :) Mak, I was on the Khao San 2 weeks ago, that's given me food for thought!
Will, thought I'd mention a couple of oddities of interest in relation to your article.
I watched a program in the UK recently regarding Snake Boxers (particularly in the north) using Curcurma longa root mixed with alcohol as a treatment for king cobra bites. The program indicated that the root appears to work with many different neurotoxins, and as it is readily available in Thailand, could be a real miracle cure for all sorts of nasty bites. As it is 100% natural though, I don't see it being developed as there is no patent cash in it for pharma companies. Worth having a read though for those interested in all things venomous.
Also, you mention that there are no dangerous sharks in Thailand. There are I think three main naturally aggressive sharks in the oceans; Tiger, Bull and Great White. About 5 years ago marine biologists identified the sharks which many people had been diving with for years, believing to be grey reef sharks at Chumon Pinnacle, as Bull Sharks.
Your statement holds true though; while Bull Sharks are usually considered aggressive, the ones around Koh Tao seem to have adopted the Thai lifestyle and to my knowledge have never had a pop at anyone.
More info for the googleshy:
MAK on April 05, 2012:
The tourists in bkk have far greater things to worry about than snakes and spiders. I'm sure your chances of getting hit by a tuk tuk or automobile crossing the road are far greater than being bit by a snake. In visiting bkk for 25 years, and living here full time for the last three years, it's the only snake I have ever seen. Like I said, it had zero interest in me and went about its business.
When I told my neighbors, who have lived in bkk all their life, they asked how much I had to drink. The answer was nothing. Fortunately my wife was with me and she could back up my story. My wife called the Red Cross snake farm and they told her more than likely the snake was someone's pet that escaped.
Regardless, it was trueley an amazing thing to witness.
Will Apse (author) on April 05, 2012:
It is amazing how the wildlife in Thailand finds a way of hanging on in the cities.
One thing you get in many towns are very narrow spaces between some of the buildings (6 inches or so). These make great havens for all kinds of creatures. Then there are the railways and klongs that act as corridors in and out of cities.
A 2.5 meter cobra just off the Khao San road is just the kind of thing you don't want to mention to the tourists, though!
MAK on April 05, 2012:
I have traveled to Thailand for 25 years, been to just about every area, and seen a few dangerous animals during that period. I now live in Bangkok and yesterday I saw something that even amazed me. Yesterday evening around 11pm, I was on one of the side streets from Koh San Rd. heading to catch a taxi. I was walking by an abandoned car and noticed a rat, nothing unusual in BKK right, then I noticed there were several of them on this car and they seemed to be trying to get into their entrance in this car. All of the sudden there was a flash and a 2.5 plus meter cobra was rolling a rat right in front of me. I was blown away and the snake didn't care one bit that I was there. It quickly made short work of eating this rat then under a fence into a yard it went.
If you had of asked me yesterday if they had Cobras in BKK, I would have given it a very small percentage at best.
ysb888 on March 27, 2012:
That Giant Centipedes look so strange!
Sparty on March 23, 2012:
Will - this is brilliant!
Really useful information and comments from your readers. Although I quite liked being naïve and not thinking about the creepy crawlies in Thailand!
I am going in November to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui (with a bit of island hopping and the half moon party!)The bit I am most worried about it Chiang Mai as we are planning a trek into the mountains for a couple of days.
Put my mind at rest - in such a short period of time I am unlikely to be chased by spiders, munched on by centipedes and eaten by snakes?? arent I??
(also another random question - I am definitely going to use mozzie spray but just wondered....does it smell? I have used anti mozzie suncream before and it stunk to high heaven!)
Will Apse (author) on February 29, 2012:
There is always sun! In the rainy season, you just see less of it.
I don't want to confuse people, but in the South there are both summer and winter monsoons. In the North, there is just the summer monsoon period.
It can be really wet in Phuket or Samui all the way up to Xmas. In the North, there is little rain from the beginning of November until the end of March.
The thing is, I wouldn't worry too much about rain here. It cools things off, keeps everything green and usually passes pretty quickly.
After a few days of sun, you will probably enjoy a downpour.
Ashley on February 29, 2012:
Thanks for the reply Will, just one more thing, I'm going in june/july to bangkok and down to the gulf for a month. Will I need an umbrella at this time?
Rebecca callison on February 28, 2012:
Hii Will great blog really helpful :D just wondering im going to visit Thailand in december for four months of backpacking. is this the sunny season i believe? And were are the best places to visit the must see's thanks so much i look forward to ure reply
Will Apse (author) on February 28, 2012:
Thanks Gareth, I keep plugging away, lol.
You can have a good holiday in the rainy season. It is hotter and wetter than Nov-Feb, but there are usually long periods every day when it is sunny.
The rain when it comes is torrential but it is expected so it is not like everything grinds to a halt. Though, of course, the floods in the North were a real shock last year (not to be repeated soon we hope).
It may sound silly but I would bring an umbrella. The ones you buy here break in no time and it is too hot for waterproofs (except on a motorbike or maybe for mountain trekking).
Best of luck with your hols!
Gareth Jones on February 28, 2012:
Absolutely brilliant blog, Will. THanks for still updating it all these years after the original post.
I'm looking to visit Thailand at the end of August/begining of September. Obviously this is the peak of the wet season. What I'm wondering is how wet is wet season? Is it a case of rain all day, or is it normally a couple of hours heavy rain then sunshine for the rest of the day? I really don't know what to expect.
Thanks for taking the time to read my comment.
Will Apse (author) on February 26, 2012:
Centipedes are everywhere- in towns and in the countryside. They do run away from people, though, and they are quick. You really have surprise one and give it no choice before it will bite.
I trod on one in the dark in my house...
Very painful for two days but no lasting effects.
Ashley on February 26, 2012:
What are the chances of encountering a centipede in bangkok or koh sumui? The bite sounds nasty...
Will Apse (author) on February 05, 2012:
You are right, eddie. Most people will never have a serious problem with the wildlife in Thailand and it is a great holiday destination.
I reckon, overall, the worst animals are the ants. They are everywhere and the bites are really annoying.
Let's face it though, if the worst thing that happens is an ant bite you can't complain too much!
eddie337 from Atlanta Ga on February 05, 2012:
Will great post, I spent a year and half in thailand I seen a huge wasp in BKK at bosstower it flew up on my belcony on the 20th floor, never seen a wasp that big before! the scariest thing I encountered in BKK is ladyboy's that touch you lightly on the shoulder when you walk past them on the sidewalk in Nana they are harmless but can be get aggressive avoid eye contact and move faster lol.. in all seriousness in sisaket I seen a land crab and scorpion fighting in a rice field very interesting, but you are right everyone should be alert when visiting a tropical country, enjoy your trip to thailand this is great information, remember the food is great and the ladies as well, take in all the sites and think about life with a smile when you are chilling on the beach!
Will Apse (author) on February 01, 2012:
Spiders are not much of a threat here.
You need to be pretty expert to locate a tarantula living in the wild, for example.
On the other hand, there are some big harmless spiders that weave huge webs that worried me when I first saw them.
Overall, I don't think you will see any more here than you would see in Europe or the US.
Debbie L on January 31, 2012:
Hello, I am considering doing a charity trek in Thailand which will take place in Thailand's Kanchanaburi Province (mainly jungle hiking). I am TERRIFIED of spiders and even freaked out at the photo on here. Be honest - what are the chances of me seeing one? I'll probably be camping too with around 30 folk.
Jim on January 24, 2012:
You forgot elephants.
When these beasts lose it, all hell can break loose.
Will Apse (author) on January 15, 2012:
I have never heard of a shark attack in Thailand. We don't get the truly aggressive species. Speedboats are the worst threat if you are in or on the water.
So enjoy you holiday! There are some wonderful dive locations in Thailand.
elona on January 15, 2012:
hi will, excellent site for information!! thank you! I am going to thailand mid March, and my bf is adament to go diving, i have a massive fear of sharks and i am very paranoid going diving.. are there many shark sightings or even attacks that occur in Thailand? I know that chances are very slim, however coming from Australia, attacks and sightings seem to be happening quite often these days... thanks in advance!
Will Apse (author) on January 12, 2012:
I don't think I can help you very much. This page was written because there is not a lot of info around on the subject and it's important if you live here to know the common animals that might be a problem.
I dug deep into obscure areas of the net and used Google translate to get Thai publications. Mainly. though. I just talked to people who had been out here for a long time.
In other words, I don't have a pile of books to refer to.
The kinds of publication that might help would be from trekking enthusiasts and maybe military stuff about jungle survival.
I will tell you, real dense jungle out here is scary. It is very dense, very dark and very muddy. Many plants are covered with long sharp spines and almost every plant is home to an army of ants that will defend it if it is touched at all.
Trekking holidays usually involve trips to less typical, less dense forests where you can walk easily.
Sorry to be so unhelpful but good luck with your book.
Lasse Mors on January 12, 2012:
Thank you for this great blog.
I am an upcoming danish author. Right now I am writing a book about two people travelling to Thailand for a jungle trek, and during my reasearch I ran into this page. Then I was thiniking: Are you my way out?
I really need a well-arranged list over some plants and animals of Northern Thailand. What I found until now, is not very useful, and my local library does not have a book that I can use. The only page that has been really useful is yours. The problem is though that it is only about dangerous animals. What I need is some dangerous and harmless plants and animals, the effect of them, and most important where they can be found in the country.
I do not know if it is too much to ask about, and it is completely alright if you are not insterested in helping me.
If you want to help me, I will find out excactly what I need and give you the list.
Will Apse (author) on January 01, 2012:
March and April are the hottest and driest months here, so with any luck you should be fine!
hollie on January 01, 2012:
thanks for the info about the caves! i'm going at the end of march/into middle of april. is there likely to be heavy rain periods of rain then?
Will Apse (author) on December 31, 2011:
I wouldn't worry too much about things coming into hotels or villas. I would be cautious about cave trips during periods of heavy rain, though. Caves can flood and from time to time people can be trapped.
This girl was lucky to survive a nightmare in a cave (but the rest of her party died):
Will Apse (author) on December 29, 2011:
I'm glad you enjoyed the page, 'Mrs from Finland'.
I'm glad to say that Thailand is not especially prone to earthquakes, although a recent quake in Myanmar was felt in the Northern city of Chiang Mai. It wasn't big enough to bring down any buildings.
Also, of course the tsunami several years ago was caused by an undersea earthquake.
I hope you enjoy Pattaya.
Mrs from Finland on December 29, 2011:
I have been reading all these comments with great interest! Really informative tales.
I am moving to Pattaya for good in about 6 months and I am very excited. I have vacationed a number of times in Phuket, but the place is getting too expensive for me to stay on a long term basis. My bad experiences with Thailand have been only mosquito bites.. a lot of them.
I have had nasty experiences in the Philippines with sting rays, which love to hide themselves under the sand in shallow waters. Believe me, nothing worse can happen to you if you get punched by a sting ray. I still have a deep scar in my foot and strange allergic reactions once in a while still after 15 years.
I wandered in these pages mostly because I wanted to find out if Pattaya has suffered any severe earthquakes. It seems not. But I got so much useful information for many other things as well.
I read something about the sand flies.. In the Philippines they said that the bites we had had were caused by the sand flies (never heard of sand flies before).. though the truth was that they were bed bug bites.. nasty ones.:)
Thank you all and happy New Year 2012:)
Rls on November 29, 2011:
Hiya thanks for the info i going on an expedition to Thailand and Cambodia soon and I was wonder if there are any Dangerous/poisionous plant that I would need to be aware of ?
GS on November 26, 2011:
Been in Chiang Mai, Thailand 12 years now seen plenty of snakes around. Only this year have i had a close encounter for the first time by being stung by a scorpion in my sleep real nightmare stuff but in the end was harmless only hurt a little. The main thing is to know what to do when it happens! You can read about it on my blog www.chiangmaiexpat.com also has an image of the scorpion.
Will Apse (author) on November 16, 2011:
Snakes in the water. Giant centipedes and scorpions looking for refuge in your home. Leeches brought in from the countryside. Sewage being brought up from the drains.
Flood water in towns is something to avoid.
The main cause of sickness in the last big floods was thought to be bacteria in the flood water entering cuts or wounds caused by leeches.
Jacob on November 16, 2011:
What about Thailand's flood animals? I mean dangerous ones. Can you tell me some?
Will Apse (author) on November 02, 2011:
I've not heard of that snake repellent. If it works let us know.
I feel obliged to say for potential visitors- as scary as snakes are, very, very few people get bitten every year.
Even people who work cutting rubber (you cut at night, out in the rubber fields which is a great place for snakes to live)are hardly ever bitten.
Angel Bee on November 02, 2011:
Pretty scary stuff!...Security guard just gave me a bag that looks like a mixture of dirt and some yellow powder.Told me to put it around the house and keep the dog in for the day..Guess these guys know their onions so will do it in the morning. Not really scared of much but Cobra are NOT to be messed with! Thanks Will for your replies..Will let you know how i get on...Angel X
Will Apse (author) on November 02, 2011:
I came across a snake on my first floor balcony yesterday- it must have climbed a pretty sheer wall. I have seen them in all kinds of places you think it would be impossible to find them. They are just a fact of life and you need to be aware all the time.
Angel Bee on November 02, 2011:
Dog is 7 and half yrs old Maltese and does not play well with others!!! Skin was looked at by 3 different Thais & is indeed Cobra...Knew it was cos spent 3 hrs on net looking up photos of the bloody thing. House is on new estate that is cleared jungle, guess it's to be expected but none the less still not the sort of thing i wanna see!! X
Will Apse (author) on November 01, 2011:
Cats are great for dealing with snakes. Of course, the dog might need some persuading of the need for a few!
Angel Bee on November 01, 2011:
Came across this page as was looking for info as yesterday i found a cobra skin in my garden..found one 3 weeks ago too! I am shit scared as the latter part of the skin was down a hole and still damp! pushed a rock in the hole,but afraid to let me small dog out in the garden today. Dunno what to do now!
Will Apse (author) on October 14, 2011:
I have seen giant centipedes in the middle of cities (popping out of drains to hunt for food). I have seen them on roof terraces 40 feet up in the air!
They certainly get about and they are all over Thailand.
They will run away if they see you, unlike scorpions and many snakes. You have to catch one by surprise to get bitten.
The bad thing is that the bites are very painful. The good thing is, you will recover completely in a couple of days.
Monsieur on October 14, 2011:
Great hub you have here.
Centripedes are really scaring me ;)
I was wondering if they were found in all part of Thailand ?
If i live in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, any chance of finding one in my bed ?
What about the other dangerous species (snakes, spiders...)
What about the other
adash07 from Des Moines and Travel Locations on September 20, 2011:
I was in Thailand not to long ago and was actually wondering what creatures to look out for this is very informative. The monkeys can be real a-holes.
Will Apse (author) on September 20, 2011:
Sorry Marion, the Tsunami hit before I arrived. You could search 'tsunami animal instincts'.
Marion South Africa on September 20, 2011:
Doing a bit of research for a story and found all the comments really helpful. Would you know which Islands were worst hit by 2004 Tsunami and I've heard that animals can sense such danger - did you notice this with your animal kingdom before the Tsunami hit?
Will Apse (author) on September 05, 2011:
People certainly shouldn't be shy about defending themselves from monkeys. They can be big animals and they have big teeth.
Shouting and gesticulating usually does the trick. I would be very careful if you have children with you.
Dar on September 05, 2011:
Excellent advice - I was in Thailand for three weeks a few weeks ago and I'm already planning my next trip! The people in Thailand are wonderful, so friendly and so humble! I always went out of my way to treat everyone I met with the utmost respect.
Just to add a small detail to your monkey advice, I got approached by a couple of big male macaques at the monkey temple outside Hua Hin and they were after my pepsi! So I just thought I'd add that they'll chance trying to steal soft drinks too!
When the first one approached it bared its fangs, screeched and flung its arms around. I reacted without thinking and threw my pepsi at it hitting it in the face - I genuinely thought I was getting attacked.
Absolutely beautiful, amazing country with beautiful, amazing people. My advice to travellers is just to remember that paradise can be a little hostile and to treat the country and its people with the respect they deserve.
Will Apse (author) on September 04, 2011:
Thanks for that info, Prisana. I always thought trigger fish were pretty innocent!
According to wikipedia, female trigger fish are likely to attack if they are guarding their nest which is usually in flat sand.
The fish faces the intruder then points her dorsal spine straight up. That is the signal it is time to back away.
Prisana Nuechterlein from Thailand and Colorado on September 03, 2011:
Excellent hub! I've encountered snakes, leeches, giant spiders, sharks, red ant nests (whilst hash running), jellyfish and several dangerous critters during my various trips to Thailand and while living there, but the only creature that left me injured was a mean-spirited trigger fish. I was diving at Koh Racha Yai, when I felt like someone had smashed their oxygen tank into my head. It took me a few seconds to realize that I had just been attacked by a trigger fish. He bit the top of my forehead and my diving mask, but fortunately the gash wasn't too bad. Needless to say, now when I see a trigger fish I try my best to stay as far away as possible!
Will Apse (author) on September 02, 2011:
Those are some great pictures, Jim. Thanks for giving us the URL. I met my wife in Koh Chang, so it was doubly good to see them.
ll on August 30, 2011:
I stayed 5 weeks on Koh Tao and crossed paths with a lethal banded sea krait and a harmless green tree snake.
Blue ringed octopus is spotted occasionally on both coasts.
Will Apse (author) on August 29, 2011:
You are braver than I am! I wouldn't go near that bike in the dark if I wasn't absolutely sure he had legged it.
Ryan on August 29, 2011:
I am in Phuket and just saw a hairy little spider scampering like greased lightning across my motorbike a few hours ago. Looks like a little tarantula! Either way, I'm right by the jungle and as you probably know it's been raining like heck here for the past week. I will just let him be in the motorbike and I'm sure by later tonight he'll be out and about looking for tasting insects instead of camping out on my ride ;)
Will Apse (author) on August 28, 2011:
This is such a long page now I can't remember if I mentioned the Thai guy who married a snake- perhaps some of the ladies do the same thing.
Maybe a python outfit would be a good back up if you are feeling insecure!
gombo on August 28, 2011:
excellent stuff will... i hope you get paid for this... I have question for you... I am about to have honeymoon in koh tao with my fetish loving wife... she tells me she loves it when the snake spits and im terribly worried that after a night of passion, one of these spitting cobras may find its way into the bedroom and overwhelm her with its size and spitting ability and she file for divorce and go off with him.... Is this common in the surrathanni province? please help me and forgive me at the same time.... peace
andy c on August 17, 2011:
I had a problem a while back a scorpion bite my dog to which she died they flushed her system out but vet said scorpions will kill dogs in thailand and elephants,same here in Surin no vets at night sorry for your loss
willythuan from Phuket, Thailand on August 17, 2011:
My dog got recently killed by a cobra... problem in Phuket is that you can't find a vet at night.
andy c on August 17, 2011:
When i spotted them on the tv i was shocked,that the tv said they live in caves, the only thing i could think of was my drainage system around the house,the reporter said one bite and you dead.Anyway cannot remember the name if i found out will let you know,
Will Apse (author) on August 16, 2011:
I would never touch a strange insect out here. The more colorful they are the more likely they are to be poisonous. Stripes are also a strong warning.
Are you sure the 'one bite and you die' thing wasn't about an allergic reaction?
All kinds of bites can bring on a fatal allergic reaction but only in a very small percentage of people.
andy c on August 16, 2011:
I have lived in Surin area for last few years.One night i came across this strange looking beetle thing,but it was not a beetle a bluey color with strips and lots of legs,My wife didn't even no what it was.Few months later i was watching tv,They are very rare but one bite will kill,they normaly found in caves so god knows why it was on my gate post,no caves near me,any clue what there name is,i just cannot remember,sorry info a bit brief
KenWu from Malaysia on April 22, 2011:
The one that surprised me most is the killer ant. Yeap, I did actually heard about this via a Discovery Program and there are actually more than one type of species that are dangerous to human and animal. Ant is too small to be noticeable and if it lands on you, chances of getting bitten is quite high!
Will Apse (author) on April 17, 2011:
You are welcome, yr5r86yoyu.
Also just to say- the floods in Southern Thailand are gone. Which is a relief.
April 17 2011
yr5r86yoyu on April 16, 2011:
this is an AMAZING site you have helped me so much thanks
Will Apse (author) on April 01, 2011:
Sorry to miss your post yesterday, Shirley- I was fighting the flood waters.
I have never heard of burning leaves to attract snakes- though it might drive snakes hiding in the leaves into the open where they can be caught and sold for anti-venom production.
I have seen plenty of footage on TV of huge pythons invading villages and causing havoc- eating dogs and so on. It is happening more and more often around Bangkok as the city expands into the snakes habitats. On TV they get bagged and sent to zoos. Off screen, I expect a few get eaten or sold to tourist attractions.
In some remote villages very big cobras have the honor of being worshiped. One man married a snake last year and is living with it in conjugal bliss, apparently.
Shirley Richey on March 30, 2011:
Wow, Great hub! Very informative. I have a question re: snakes. I'm writing a book for children about Thailand but have never been there. In Countries of the World-Thailand, Jim Goodman states that during dry seasons Thais rake through leaves & rubbish in areas surrounding houses. They light bonfires to attract snakes and apparently, they capture & sell these snakes them to snake farms. Poisonous snakes are more expensive. Do they do this in Phuket? Have you ever seen anyone doing this? Thank you in advance for your help, and keep up the good work!
Will Apse (author) on March 29, 2011:
Will Apse (author) on March 26, 2011:
There is heavy rain across Southern Thailand right now, with some floods. Ko Samui is affected more than most places. I can't give anyone a reference- I have only seen it on TV.
I'll post again if things get really bad, as they do sometimes- in Samui, especially.
Snakes in Hotels? When it rains every kind of creature wants to come in and dry out!
Weeve on March 25, 2011:
Sand flies are a nuisance and their bite can be potentially dangerous and is always unpleasant, use Deet when on beaches in Thailand
oscarmike on March 23, 2011:
Hey, i am going to Phuket with my girlfriend in August and we are worried about snakes/spiders getting into our hotel room at night.
Was just wondering how likely this is? and for a 5* hotel?
Please help! Thanks
blackandyellowstripes94 on March 21, 2011:
Hi Will, great hub! Really good info. I am going to Ko Phangan, Ko Samui, Ko Tao and some of the other islands around these in April. I was just wondering what are the most common dangerous animals on these islands? Are the beaches and shallow waters generally safe? Thanks, hope to hear back
mattscottbuckley on March 18, 2011:
hi will, great page. the info is the best i've found on the net about the dangerous animals in Thailand. i am going to go to Thailand shortly and i would like to know if there is a place that teaches you about all the dangerous animals and allows you to handle them and gives you hands on experience of dealing with them in case situation may occur in the future. thanks.
Will Apse (author) on February 10, 2011:
There is a common spider that makes its webs between trees quite close to the ground. The webs can be a meter or more across. Those are definitely harmless. Even so, I walk around them carefully with a little shudder of fascinated horror!
There is a picture of a giant spider from Mae Hong Son here. It looks like the ones I am familiar with: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mark_lehmkuhler/43410...
Janet on February 09, 2011:
Unfortunately I just got back from Thailand. Have you ever heard of Mae Hong Son spider?Has it listed as poisonus?I went to Koh samed for a week and was staying in this beautiful bungalow where we got welcomed by this giant of a spider that really scared me(aracnofobia)ehehe.
superwags from UK on January 19, 2011:
I went on a day trip out of Bangkok on the "Tiger Temple" tour. I stroked a tiger, held a snake and had a tarantula on my shoulder and not a bit of bother.
When I got to the "bridge over the River Kwai", I was stood in a shop winding up the guy's pet fish and the bugger jumped out of its barrel, bit my finger and wouldn't let it go!
Moral of the story: Thailand has dangerous fish, don't piss them off!
Tanya on January 11, 2011:
Thankyou for your advice, I appreciate it. I am excited about going now!
Daniel on January 11, 2011:
I take it from this then that snakes rarely come into your room while sleeping . I have read a story online in a newspaper about a young boy who was killed in his bed at night in thailand when a snake entered the bed for warmth and bite him in the night he was pronounced dead on the scene that is why I asked such a bizarre questions
Will Apse (author) on January 11, 2011:
I have never been to Chiang Mai (though I'm told it is beautiful), Tanya so I can't help with attractions in that area. My visits to Bangkok are as short as I can manage- it is a very, very crowded city and I like quieter places.
Western children are very safe in Thailand. I have lived here for six years and never heard of tourist children coming to any harm. I regularly see parents with youngsters and even single mothers with babies. The biggest problem is the sun- it is very strong here and children need to be well protected.
Another issue could be food, some Imodium might be a good idea. Your stomach will get a few different strains of bacteria and though people soon become as resilient as the residents, the first assault can be uncomfortable. Having said that, I have never had anything like food poisoning here. It is just stomach upsets of the inconvenient kind.
I have stopped answering the questions about snakes in the bed. It is hard to type and laugh at the same time! Just to say it one more time though- keep out of long grass and undergrowth and you will never come across a snake!
craigmissuea from USA on January 10, 2011:
Dangerous animals are very risky and should be dealt with necessary precautions. I did not knew ants which are so tiny can prove so destructive.