BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ A farmer who claims a unique ability to communicate with snakes has set out to spend a week in a glass-encased room with more than a hundred of the poisonous reptiles.

``We are friends. We understand each other,'' said Boonruang Buachan, 29, when contacted by telephone inside his snake-infested chamber in a Bangkok shopping mall.

Boonruang, who began his cohabitation Tuesday, cradled and kissed writhing snakes and at times plunged his hand into a wriggling mass of serpents to extract one. Hundreds of people pressed against the Plexiglas to watch.

Accustomed to the tough upcountry life, Boonruang said he was more worried about catching a cold from the air conditioning than being bitten by the fanged creatures that slither over him. They include two king cobras, 100 cobras, 30 centipedes and 20 scorpions.

Also introduced into the snake pit Tuesday were 44 pounds of live frogs _ the snakes' diet for the week.

Besides claiming he can communicate with the animals, Boonruang believes that in a previous life he was the ``Prince of Snakes,'' a creature from Thai mythology.