My love for snakes began in early childhood and continued to grow over the years .I would watch the documentaries on these awe-inspiring creations of nature and hope to see each one in their own habitat ,be it the Black Mamba of Africa or the Anaconda.
I would keep my eyes open for snake charmer and leave no opportunity to go and handle the snakes they had.
Not all snake charmers are cruel to their snakes, many worship the creäture and care for it as they would, for a child of their own.
Snakes are extremely enigmatic and fascinating creatures and have been unnecessarily labeled with bad reputation due to misconceptions arising from superstitions and religious dogmas. Majority of these opinions are formed out of fear and sheer ignorance. Snakes have been misunderstood for too long, and their role in nature is too little appreciated.
Due to lack of proper information, disbelieves and fears, many important species of snakes have become rare and are threatened with extinction; so, disturbing the natural cycle of coexistence.
Rampant killing of the snake has led to enormous increase in the number of rodents, which in turn destroy food grain.
People who are unfamiliar with snakes assume them to be poisonous and dangerous, they also view them as a slimy, ugly and hostile species, where as the skin of a snake is actually dry and scaly and in many cases even smooth to touch.
One commonly held misconception is that snakes are aggressive and chase people whereas when confronted by a human, a snake is more likely to attempt to escape and not attack or defend itself .They are not at all revengeful as many people think, they don’t hypnotize ,it’s just that they don’t have eyelids so can’t blink.
Not all snakes are venomous; there are over 270 species of snakes in India out of which only about 60 are venomous. Only four snakes in India are deathly for humans.
Cobra, Russell’s viper, Saw-scaled viper, and, the most dangerous of them – the common krait.
Snakes are shy creatures and avoid humans unless provoked.
It is just a phobia with people that the very thought of a snake, which they have not even seen, creates panic and fear.
During my training at National Museum of Natural History I learnt a lot about handling snakes and found them to be very docile n friendly. So all those who are afraid of snakes should at least once, hold one in their hands and then decide if they are worth all the fear.I handled a venomous cobra once without knowing that the poison was still there. Just picked it up from a snake charmer’s basket and as I held its head down, I saw the fangs .They scared me so much but I was also at the same time, mesmerized by them .That was a mistake I made because the venomous snakes should never be held by their heads. The five feet beauty coiled around me and would have been picture perfect, but my hubby was unable to hold the camera still and couldn’t take one pix… loll.
The snake charmer slowly kept the hand on mine and made me slip the snake into his hand.That’s one moment I will never forget.
I let the snake smell me with its tongue. It’s their way of “tasting” you and recognizing you.
My elder son takes after me I guess and loves the snakes .He was never afraid to handle them even as kid ,which I think is very good because that’s one more person who can educate many others about this lovely creäture.
Snakes are generally always panicky; it’s just their natural instincts. They are usually harmless.
I too learned venom collection and trust me it’s a bit scary when you do it yourself, even if you are aided by an expert. ..But I did enjoy the process. We were also told that there are different ways of handling different kind of venomous snakes. it was truly fascinating …I hope more people are educated on this issue as there is a definite need for such info .
Technically the term venomous and non venomous snakes rightly define whether these snakes secrete venom… however, even today, the terminology used widely (even by wildlife organizations) to describe snakes is poisonous and non poisonous…
Snakes are a very vital part of our ecosystem… they play a vital role in vermin control and in maintaining balance of various life forms… it is their land and burrows that are being encroached upon by human habitation today… we must be extra watchful in ensuring that they do not get killed just because we are wary or scared of them…
Continuous coming up of residential areas and the rains bring out many lovely snakes into the open and due to fear and lack of knowledge, the poor creatures are killed .There are snake handlers available and they have a help line too but people don’t seen to know much about it .I think one should hold a workshop sometime during the monsoon to educate the masses about it.
In the Race Course area near the Air Force station in Delhi, I have seen kids put burning wood into the burrow to make the snake come out and then kill it with stones and stick. It’s sad that the elders too don’t understand the need to protect the helpless creatures …
Pythons are my favorites. Unlike cobras they are more majestic and maybe due to their size and bulk, very eye catching…..
Reticulated Python and Spitting Cobra.
The Reticulated Python is one I like most ,with its lovely markings and sheer strength ,this regal snake is just awesome .One of the rarest of the snakes, it can measure up to 49 feet easily ,which is an amazing length, and can weigh up to 983 pounds but that’s rare ,normally they range from 1 to 10 m (3 to 33 ft) long and weigh up to 140 kg (300 lb).The pythons are part of the Boa family.
Pythons are large and muscular, and kill their prey by squeezing, or constricting, until it suffocates.
The speed with which the coils are applied is impressive and the force they exert may be significant. They sink their sharp teeth into the pray and rapidly coil to crush them .Though non venomous , this is one of the most feared snakes .they use their infra-red signals to catch the pray and that’s the reason they can hunt easily in darkest of places .
They spray the neurotoxin venom into the eyes of the predator, causing, chemosis and corneal swelling, when sensing danger to a max distance of 2mtrs.The bite however is fatal. The neurotoxin bite of either can cause pain and swelling with general muscle weakness following and eventual respiratory paralysis.
Do watch the video if the link opens.
Snake Charming is an art, perfected in countries like India, Pakistan and the neighboring countries.
They play the musical instrument called Been and open the dark case in which the snake is kept .mostly people think it’s due to the music the snake sways but in reality standing erect and extending the hood is a normal defensive reaction for a cobra and simply indicates the snake’s startled reaction to losing its darkened environment.The animal cannot actually hear the tune being played, though it can perhaps feel some of the sound vibrations as well as those from any tapping by the charmer. The swaying instrument in the charmer’s hand is mistaken for another snake and hence the defensive approach .
Snake charming is an inherited profession and most of the time their only source of income.
Now with the new laws, the saperas or the snake charmers are loosing their source of living and slowly this art is vanishing from the land of snake charmers.
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