Quit your job, become a ... venomous snake caretaker

Written by
Gail Piyanan
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Boonnum Yoyfoy, 33, venomous snake expert at Snake Farm, Queen Saovabha Memorial Instutute. 

What’s your average day like? 

The first thing I do in the morning is make sure the snakes are healthy. This means cleaning their cages and observing whether they’ve eaten their food or shed their skin. At 11:00, I conduct a venom extraction show, followed by a show that features catching snakes barehanded in the afternoon. Afterwards, I manage photo sessions of visitors with the snakes. 

How did you develop a liking for snakes? 

 

I’m originally from Nakhon Sawan. Next to my house was a shop selling snake curry, so I was comfortable around snakes from a very young age. And that comfort gradually emboldened my liking toward snakes. I wanted to know more about them and wanted to learn how to catch them. I later moved to Bangkok to continue my education at the Islamic College of Thailand. I worked different jobs for a living. Five years ago, I heard there was a vacancy at Snake Farm. With no second thoughts, I jumped in.

 

Tell us about the application process.

There was a test, which was all about testing one’s knowledge on snakes, and, without prior notice, they asked me to catch snakes. There were four to five snakes in front of me. Thank God I did it without getting bitten.

Was there any training after the test?

You have to go through a six-month probation period which entails working alongside experienced staffers, observing different snake species, feeding snakes and cleaning the cages. The second month, you are expected to run a non-venomous snake show and, by the third month, you should be able to conduct a venom extraction show.

Do you remember the first time you performed a venom extraction?

I remember my heart was beating so fast and my hands were sweaty because it was cobra. I knew that if I did it right the first time, the second time will be much easier. So I plucked up my courage and grabbed its head. 

What do you like most about this job?

To be honest, not many people want to do this job. But I like taking risks and I like having a lot of people look at me like I’m a superstar. Not many people get to do a show like this and, although I am at risk of getting bitten anytime, it’s where my passion lies.

Snakes are everywhere. If there is no one passing on the knowledge about venomous and non-venomous snakes, then people in this town will be living in a bubble, not knowing anything about snakes —if they encounter a snake, they will probably just hit it with a stick until it dies. Many don’t even know that there’s an anaconda here at the Snake Farm! 

 

 

 

 

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