A rather large snake was caught in the garden of my new home in Bacolod City this week. As I have a young son, I was naturally concerned that snakes here might be venomous.
But after some research, I was told on good authority that Negros Island is not home to venomous serpents, just harmless ones that feed on rodents and insects.
I checked with Bacolod’s Riverside Hospital as to the number of cases of snake bite its emergency department deals with. Apparently, the last case was more than five years ago. That is no doubt why the hospitals’s pharmacy does not carry anti-venom snake serum.
As a dad, it was a relief to know that my little boy is unlikely to encounter a cobra in the garden. You know how curious children are.
But not every part of the country is so lucky.
There are some 180 species of snakes in the Philippines. Of these, 19 are venomous. Most of them stay in rural areas, preying on small mammals such as rats and mice. Usually they prefer moist areas such as rivers, being cold-blooded animals.
Alarmingly, the Philippines is home to the world’s third most deadly serpent, the much-feared Philippine Cobra. It’s the most toxic of all cobra species.
It’s described as aggressive and is quite common, especially near rice paddies where there are plenty of rats and mice. Fortunately for us here, they are found on the islands of Luzon, Mindoro, Catanduanes and Masbate.
The venom of the Philippine cobra affects the respiratory function and can cause respiratory paralysis. They can accurately spit their venom at a target up to three metres away. The symptoms of a bite can include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, difficulty breathing and even death.
But happily, most species of snakes in the Philippines are non venomous. However, should you ever come face-to-face with a serpent, the experts’ advice is to treat then all as potentially dangerous and leave them well alone. Good advice indeed!