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Thailand's self-styled snake wrangler to the rescue as venomous reptiles search for food

In the dead of night, Thai firefighter Pinyo Pukpinyo stealthily approaches a python coiled around the rafters of a home in Bangkok and quickly grabs its head with his bare hands.

Many homes in the Thai capital are visited by snakes, which live in underground canals and enter gardens or toilets during the rainy season in search of food.

In 2018, disaster prevention officials said they received 37,000 reports of home intrusions by snakes around Bangkok.

Bangkok firefighters spend more time catching snakes than putting out fires, with more than 100 snake encroachments a day in recent months, compared to just one or two fires, data from the city's fire and rescue department shows.

A self-styled 'snake wrangler', Pukpinyo has caught about 10,000 snakes during the 16 years he has performed this dangerous task.

Pukpinyo says he traps up to 800 snakes each year, about 70% non-venomous pythons, while the rests are cobras and other venomous snakes. The venomous reptiles are taken to a specialist institute that extracts snake venom to make an antidote. The non-venomous reptiles are mostly returned to the wild in jungles far away from metropolitan areas.

In his free time at the fire station, Pukpinyo cares for the captured snakes, taking king cobras out of their cages to feed them. He also runs classes on how to handle snakes safely.

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