Ah, Thailand – the Land of Smiles, where sparkling beaches roll by shimmering seas and elephant-trodden jungles dash down misty mountain ranges. There are loads of reasons why this is a bucket-list corner of the world. Sadly, there are also a few dangerous animals in Thailand that we think every would-be visitor should be aware of.
From the slithering snakes that occupy the forests of Central Thailand to the snapping sharks that swim through the bath-warm Thai Gulf, this guide lists 11 of the creatures you need to watch out for as you go on that bucket-list mission of pad Thai noodles and iconic Buddhist shrines.
You’ll learn about what creatures should have you spinning and running a mile between the Andaman Sea and the tuk-tuk-rammed streets of Bangkok. You’ll get an idea of the venomous serpents and the formidable creepy crawlies that lurk in the land between the Mekong and the River Kwai. Let’s go…
There are plenty of snakes in Thailand, some are harmless and some could leave you paralyzed or dead. So it’s definitely worth familiarizing yourself with all things snakes. The most deadly snake in Thailand has to be awarded to the Monocled Cobra. This snake’s venom can kill with just one bite, and sadly they are the most common snake found across Thailand. The second deadliest snake in Thailand is the Blue Krait or Malayan Krait. The Malayan Krait packs a mighty punch and can kill within 24 hours if left untreated.
But all is not lost. If you keep out of their way, are mindful, and watch where you go, you shouldn’t run into any problems. Don’t pick them up and keep a wide birth. If you find one inside your accommodation, leave it alone and find a local snake removal company to come and take it away. If staying in a hotel, contact the front desk and they will be able to remove it for you. Other snakes include Red-headed Keel backs, Malayan Pit Viper, Mangrove Pit Viper, Small-spotted Coral, and many more.
When you hear the word Scorpion, you tend to think of super dry desserts as well as their gnarly looks. They are pretty easy to spot with their 8 legs, giant pincers, and curled tail with a pointed stinger. You may not know that these creatures can be found all over Thailand. In fact, there are 18 different species and subspecies across Thailand. Although their sting is no worse than a bee or wasp sting, they can still prove fatal if you are allergic to them.
Should you encounter one on your travels, you should be relatively safe. But if you do find that one has stung you, seek hospital treatment as soon as possible so that it can be disinfected and you can be given effective treatment. This is even more important should you develop an allergic reaction as this could potentially kill you. Scorpions are nocturnal animals which means when going out at night, keep your eyes peeled, you never quite know where one might turn up.
Deep in the waters off the coast of Thailand, you are likely to find at least 9 species of Shark. Although most of them are more friend than foe, it’s still worth noting that they are predatory mammals. There are several different types of sharks that can be found in the waters around Thailand. Some are less harmful than others. The sharks that pose the biggest risks to humans are Nurse Sharks, Bull Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks, and Blacktip Reef Sharks.
All these sharks pose some risk to human life. Divers especially. The best way to minimize the chances of an attack is to exercise caution. Try not to do anything that could provoke them or make them feel threatened. If you are diving and happen to see a nurse shark or something similar it’s best to give them a wide birth and make no sudden movements as this could bring their attention to you. You’ll be safe in the knowledge that shark attacks in Thailand are extremely rare and they will only attack if confused or threatened.
Rockfish, also known as Scorpionfish, are normally found on coral reefs within Thailand’s water. However, you’ll be lucky if you spot one while diving or snorkeling as they are the masters of disguise. There is one type of Rockfish that will be easier to spot than the others and that’s the Tasseled Scorpionfish. All rockfish are relatively inactive during the day and feed at night. This could be one factor as to why they are hard to spot.
If you do decide to go snorkeling either go with a guide or be extremely careful. Their venom paralyzes their prey. If you are unfortunate to get stung by them, beware of the symptoms which include intense pain, swelling, numbness, bleeding, tingling, and blistering around the wound. In more serious cases it can cause vomiting, shortness of breath, seizures, and in the worst case death. Although this is extremely rare, it is worth keeping your eyes open and taking notice of any warning signs in case you are unaware you were stung.
Lionfish have a very distinctive striped body and spines making them relatively easy to spot when scuba diving around wrecks or coral reefs. An adult Lionfish can grow up to 18.5 inches in size, whereas a baby lionfish won’t be much bigger than half an inch. Although they are beautiful to look at, they are highly venomous. Considered one of the most dangerous species of fish on earth it’s worth exercising caution around them.
Should you be unlucky enough to get stung by one you may experience some or all of these symptoms; extreme pain, fever-like symptoms, headache, dizziness, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. It is very uncommon that a human will die from a lionfish sting. It’s advised that you seek medical attention immediately following a lionfish sting to limit the chance of infection and for stronger painkillers if you need them.
The most common and deadliest jellyfish in Thailand is the Box Jellyfish. Aptly named due to its cube-shaped body and long tentacles. They are a highly dangerous invertebrates species. There are several different types of box jellyfish which include the Carukia barnesi, Malo kingi, and Chironex fleckeri. They are nimble and fast and unlike other jellyfish, they are very capable of navigating around obstacles and swimming swiftly to their desired location.
Box jellyfish are considered one of the most venomous and deadly creatures in the world. The most common is the Chironex fleckeri. According to the National Ocean Service if you are stung by a box jellyfish you can experience ‘may experience paralysis, cardiac arrest, and even death,’ all within minutes of being stung. But don’t let this put you off swimming in Thailand’s tropical waters. For the most part, jellyfish will avoid you.
If you see one wash up on the beach, avoid it and leave it alone. Seek immediate emergency medical attention if you are stung or suspect you have been stung. Ways to treat a sting from a box jellyfish include removing all traces of the sting from the body and rinsing the area for at least half a minute with vinegar to help stop the spread of the venom. Keep an eye on the person who was stung and administer CPR if needed, while waiting for the emergency services.
There are an estimated one million stray dogs in Thailand. Almost everywhere you turn you will see at least one stray. Most of them are scruffy and unwanted and you will often find them wandering alone. It’s quite a sad sight. Although they look relatively cute and approachable you may want to think twice. Most of them are mellow and harmless but you may get the odd one that isn’t. They might think that your approach is threatening and could snarl, bark or even bite.
Although they are not the most dangerous animals in Thailand, they do pose a big risk to human life in the form of diseases, infections, and the possible transmission of rabies. Experts predict that 1 in 10 stray dogs in Thailand have rabies. Attacks on humans are pretty rare, but it’s not unheard of. Being careful around them and moving away backward from them should any snarl or show aggression is a wise move. Speaking in a firm and assertive tone can also prove beneficial when it comes to telling a stray dog to go away, if you shout at them you are more than likely going to make them more agitated, increasing the risk of an attack.
Of all the bugs, animals, and wildlife in Thailand, the Giant Desert Centipede is by far the creepiest. Growing up to 20cm long, these creatures can be found at ground level all over Thailand. The most common places to find these creatures are under rocks, tree logs, damp foliage, or partially buried in damp soil. They have also been known to shelter inside shoes, so you might want to check them before putting them on.
If you come across one of them, and you’ll know you have by the distinctive red coloring on their legs, you are best to treat it with caution. They are not likely to attack unless provoked or threatened. Their front legs have adapted to act as pincers which they use to catch and kill their prey. The pinchers contain venom which is injected into their prey to kill them and although it won’t kill a human, it can still leave you pretty sore for up to 5 days afterward. Other symptoms include swelling, bruising, and in some cases, difficulty breathing and a rapid heartbeat. Their bite is said to be more painful than that of a snake or scorpion. So watch out.
Thailand is home to many species of monkeys, but the most common is the Macaque (Ma – kak). The average Thai Macaque is about 2 feet tall. So you’d be forgiven to think that these monkeys are cute and friendly. Macaques are found in very high numbers within tourist hotspots which makes humans prime targets for attacks and thefts if they are not careful. The monkeys in most of the tourist spots are used to being fed by tour groups so they are often seen stealing food from people’s hands even if you aren’t offering it.
The most harm that a monkey can do to a human is scratch or bite, and if this happens you will need to get it looked at by a medical professional who will clean it up and give you a tetanus injection. Also, be wary of mating season and stay away from nursing mothers as they could see your advances of being friendly as a threat
Now if you’re an arachnophobe, you might not want to know this, but Thailand is crawling with our 8 legged friends (or foes). In fact, there is no shortage of them. There are several different types of spiders including black widows, tarantulas, huntsmen, and giant orb spiders. All of which look super creepy and scary. You may come across the Huntsmen spider in your kitchen cupboards or sink and you may even be surprised by one scurrying across the floor of your apartment.
Luckily deaths from spider bites are very rare however they do require treatment. If left untreated a spider bite can become infected. Their bites can be painful and if bitten by a black widow – one of the most dangerous spiders in the world – you may experience muscle cramping, fever, breathing difficulties, exhaustion, and swelling around the wound. These symptoms can occur days after the initial bite so it’s worth keeping an eye on yourself and if you experience any of these symptoms go and seek advice from a medical professional.
These pesky, annoying little insects are found all over Thailand. No matter the time of the year you will also find a mosquito. Their numbers tend to increase during and after the rainy season (June to October) due to puddles of water that remain. You will tend to find more mosquitoes in the evening as it tends to be slightly cooler. No one is immune to getting a mosquito bite, in fact, some are just a little bit luckier than others.
Mosquitoes don’t pose a huge risk to humans but it’s worth noting that some mosquitoes can carry tropical diseases, such as dengue fever and malaria. The symptoms of dengue fever differ from those of malaria so it is worth knowing what both of them are so that it is easier to spot should you start to feel ill. The best way to limit your risks of being bitten is to wear mosquito repellent, light citronella candles in the evenings, and make sure you have a mosquito net.
Should I worry about snakes in Thailand?
Although snakes are considered one of the most dangerous animals in Thailand, they are in fact relatively harmless. Although there are more than 200 species of snakes throughout Thailand the chance of your encountering one is pretty slim, but definitely not uncommon. In fact, snakes are more scared of us than we are of them and will more than likely stay out of your way.
Are there snakes in Thai waters?
There are snakes in Thai waters and yes, they are considered one of the most dangerous animals in Thailand, however, they do not pose a huge risk to humans. They tend to like shallow areas around coasts and islands. Sea Snakes like to be left alone and will not attack unless provoked. So if you happen to see a snake in the water, leave them alone. Swim the other way and give them a wide birth.
Are there crocodiles in Thailand?
Yes, there are crocodiles in Thailand. However, it is rare for you to see one as they tend to stick to the national parks. Their numbers have been declining due to loss of habitat and commercial hunting for their skin. There have been sightings of a crocodile on some of the beaches on the island of Phuket, so it’s best to keep your eyes peeled. And if you do happen to spot it, try not to get too close.
Are there venomous spiders in Thailand?
There are several species of venomous spiders in Thailand. The most venomous one being the Black Widow. Although small this spider can leave a pretty nasty bite. Luckily though, they will only bite if disturbed. Other venomous spiders include the Huntsmen, the Brown Widow, the Yellow Sac Spider, and the Cobalt Blue Tarantula