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The firefighter who catches snakes with his bare hands

August 27, 2019 08:22 IST

Thai firefighter Pinyo Pukpinyo is known as one of the most daring snake wranglers in Bangkok.

The 50-year-old, a firefighter by day, has caught about 10,000 snakes during the 16 years he has performed this dangerous task.

All photographs: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters


Firefighter Pinyo Pukpinyo, known as 'snake wrangler', poses for a photograph with pythons of which some were caught by him, in Bangkok, Thailand. Pukpinyo says he traps up to 800 snakes each year, about 70 per cent non-venomous pythons, while the rest are cobras and other venomous snakes.

Pukpinyo shows a copperhead rat snake which he caught, at a fire station in Bangkok. The 50-year-old says being a snake wrangler provides him with solace because he is helping people in an area that has much encroachment of snakes within human residences.

The 'snake catcher' holds a python he caught at home in Bangkok. Pukpinyo doesn't use too many devices while grabbing at the snakes. He says, "I think using equipment to catch snakes can be hurtful to them. But with bare hands, it becomes the process of learning and understanding the real nature of snakes."

Pukpinyo shows a Bungarus fasciatus snake which he caught, at a fire station in Bangkok. Pukpinyo has been bitten by the reptiles, some of them venomous. While he’s been bitten by pit vipers and other snakes, it was a king cobra bite in May 2018 that left his right thumb disfigured.

Firefighter Pinyo Pukpinyo drives his car to catch a snake in Bangkok. Disaster prevention officials claimed they got 37,000 reports of home intrusions by snakes within Bangkok. The firefighters spent more time catching the snakes than they did putting out fires. Records say there are more than 100 snake encroachments which happen in one day during the recent months as compared to one or two fires.

Pukpinyo catches a small python at home in Bangkok. Snakes in search of food often invade homes in Bangkok and the Bang Khen fire station, where Pukpinyo works, gets more than 3,000 phone calls a year seeking help with snakes.

Firefighter Pinyo Pukpinyo cleans a snake cage at a fire station in Bangkok. Pukpinyo said he also cares for the captured snakes at the fire station and gives classes on how to safely handle them. "I want people to have a better understanding of the relationship between human and animals, and that we can live together,” he said. “There is no need to harm or kill them, we can just learn to live together. This is my goal, which makes me happy enough."

Firefighter Pinyo Pukpinyo holds a python. He says, "I don’t recommend you do this because it’s dangerous."