Don’t let the name mislead you: unlike other, more touristy “snake farms” found throughout Thailand, the Queen Saovabha Institute (formerly Pasteur Institute) is a serious research facility. The main attraction that draw Thai and foreign visitors are the daily snake-milking sessions at 10.30 and 14.30.
Visitors can observe experts feeding and catching snakes, skillfully extracting snake venom for vaccine research and manufacture. A very informative half-hour long slide presentation precedes the show. The Institutes’s snake species include Malayan pit viper, Russell’s viper, green pit viper, common cobra and king cobra.
The Snake Farm offers more practical services as well: human vaccinations against rabies, tetanus, polio, meningitis, hepatitis A and B, as well as typhoid and cholera. Other services include pet quarantine and immunization against rabies, as well as autopsies for tracing rabies.
Two useful booklets are for sale at the facilities: Guide to Healthy Living in Thailand by the Thai Red Cross and the US embassy, and Poisonous Snakes of Thailand.
The institute was founded in 1912 by King Rama VI, as a rabies prevention facility. A smallpox research lab was moved there later, and then it became known as the Pasteur Institute. In 1923, realizing that imported sera were not suitable for treating Thai snake bites, Dr. Leopold Robert raised funds from foreign residents in Thailand for the building of the snake farm in order to use the venom milked from the snakes for the production of more effective antisera.
THINGS TO KNOW:
How to get there:
BTS Skytrain to Saladaeng Station, Subway to Samyan Station
Bus routes 4, 45, 47, 50, 67, 74, 76, 141, 501
Open: Mon. – Fri. from 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m., Sat., Sun. and Public Holidays from 8.30 a.m. – 12 noon.
Venom extraction: Mon. – Fri. at 11 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. holidays at 11 a.m.
Slide presentation in English: 30 minutes before venom extraction.
Admission: Adults 200 Baht, Children 50 baht
Tel: 0 2252 0161-4, 0 2252 0167
Fax: 0 2254 0212
Visit Bangkok Blogs for a story about our visit.