Snakes Myths & Facts in English by Santosh Takale
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Snakes Myths & Facts in English by Santosh Takale

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The prime intent of this book is to eradicate all myths, among masses regarding snakes. But I have also added some information on how to identify snake, precautions to avoid snake bite, first aid ...

The prime intent of this book is to eradicate all myths, among masses regarding snakes. But I have also added some information on how to identify snake, precautions to avoid snake bite, first aid after snake bite and very importantly, I have mentioned few references which can be referred for detailed information on the snakes.

I would like to express my Special Thanks to Raju Mumbaikar, Aniket Jadhav & All members of CON-Veshvi, the NGO working for protection of species like snake & our life support system-NATURE.

Regards.

- Santosh Takale.

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Snakes Myths & Facts in English by Santosh Takale Snakes Myths & Facts in English by Santosh Takale Document Transcript

  • 1 SNAKES : Myths & Facts Santosh Takale Takale Charitable Trust, Shirdhon, Panvel, Raigad, Maharashtra, India – 410206. English Copy
  • 2 Acknowledgement & Preface The word snake itself, creates fear in people’s mind. Many renowned snake lovers & Herpetologists have written number of good informative books on snakes & related issues to spread awareness about these beautiful species; this book is also a similar attempt. It gives me immense pleasure to present you this book, which is good mixture of my own experiences & few important referrals from these books. The prime intent of this book is to eradicate all myths, among masses regarding snakes. But I have also added some information on how to identify snake, precautions to avoid snake bite, first aid after snake bite and very importantly, I have mentioned few references which can be referred for detailed information on the snakes. These references are as below. As far as translation from Marathi to English, typing, proof reading, editing, printing of this book is concerned, I have received great help from my wife Vaishali. This book is for free of cost circulation. If you like this book then you are requested to kindly donate at least Rs. 30/- to any Social Organisation. saMdBa- : KalaIla sava- saMdBa-gaM`qaaMcao¸ saMkotsqaLaMcao¸ saMsqaacao va vya@tIMcao AamhI ?NaI Aahaot. 1. saMdBa-gaM`qa À pustko Á a. Aaplyaa BaartatIla saap ­ raomyaulasa vhITokr ³ Anauvaad ­ maa$tI icatmapllaI ´ b. sap-iva&ana ­ ]lhasa zakUr c. saapaMivaYayaI ­ Ja[- AaiNa ra^ma vhITokr ³Anauvaad ­ vasaMt iSarvaaDkr´ d. SNAKES ­ inailamakumaar KOro. 2. Websites À saMkotsqaL Á 1. http//www.indiansnakes.org 4. http//www.indianherps.org 2. http//www.landofthewild.com 5. http//www.naturfoto.cz 3. http//www.arkive.org 6. en.wikipedia.org 7. You tube Channel & Knowledge Hour video by Santosh Takale http://www.youtube.com/user/TakaleSantosh http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE1ss_p09sw 3. vya@tI À saMsqaa Á 1. Nilimkumar Khaire 3. Ashok Captain 5. Raju Mumbaikar & CON, Veshvi. 2. Ulhas Thakur 4. Kailas Darule 6. Wild Explorer, Panvel. Santosh Takale.
  • 3 Content Sr. No. Description Pg 1. Front page 1 2. Acknowledgment & Preface. 2 3. References, Websites, Links & Credits. 2 4. Content 3 5. Introduction to Snake world. 4 6. Classification of Snakes. 5 7. Importance of Snakes. 6 8. General - Snake : Myths & Facts. 6 9. Precautions to avoid Snake bites. 11 10. Do’s & Don’ts for close encounter with Snake bite. 12 11. Must Do’s, after Snake bite. 12 12. Law’s for Snake Protection. 13 13. Basic steps to identify the Snakes. 13 14. Venomous Snakes – Spectacled, Monocled, King Cobra, Krait, Russell’s, Saw Scaled, Bamboo pit Viper, Coral & Sea Snake. 13 15. Semi Venomous Snakes – Vine Snake, Cat Snake, Ornate Flying Snake, Glossy Marsh Snake, Sand Snake, Glossy Belied Racer, Dog Faced water Snake & Indian Egg Eater. 21 16. Non Venomous Snakes – Stripped, Chequered, Green Keelback, Python, Common & Red Sand Boa, Banded Racer, Wolf Snake, Kukari, Bronze Back, Trinket, Black Headed, Shieldtail, Royal, File & Worm Snake. 25 17. Attending Snake rescue call – Care & Precaution. 34 18. World famous venomous snakes - not found in India. 36 19. The eminent personalities, who worked for cause related to this field. 44 20. List of various free lectures by Santosh Takale 46 21. About the Author & Takale Charitable Trust 47
  • 4 Introduction to Snake World: Snakes are among few, most ancient species born on our earth. Their way of life to adjust with environment around them, has ensured their existence till date. Surprisingly except polar region, snakes are found around every nuke and corner of the world. There are more than 3000 species of snakes found in world. India is home for more than 275 species. Among these 52 numbers of species are venomous and 40 of them are sea dwellers. It’s happy to note that very few snakes around our habitat are venomous. This mainly consist of ‘Cobra, Krait, Russell’s Viper & Saw Scale Viper’ famously known as “Big-4”. Snakes are ‘ectotherms - cold blooded animals which means that their body temperature is controlled by external means. They cannot bear extreme cold & hot temperatures. Surrounding temperature of 80 C to 450 C suits to their survival. As ingested food is not consumed in maintaining body temperature, snakes can survive long without food. In captive, few pythons have survived without food for more than two to two and half years. As such they are very contented species & they eat only when it’s required, but do need lot of water, as 70 % of their body weight is constituted of water, it is essential for their survival. In case of scarcity of water they use body fluid in their prey to satisfy their water need. Because of their ability to camouflage with surrounding, we don’t see snakes very often though they are available in plenty around us. Due to the absence of sweat glands, snakes discard their external skin regularly to get rid of waste products from body. The process is called “moulting” & for adult snake it repeats in 2-3 months. For young one’s the change over period is smaller. New born shed their 1st skin in 2 days. After moulting snake gets back its fresh & glowing look. The scales on snake’s body keep their skin dry. Scales protect snakes from ultraviolet & infrared rays. It’s the main means to assist their movement. As sea snake does not have scales they are not able to move on land. Snakes have their own tactics to protect themselves. Normally they hide or camouflage themselves and try not to have any face to face confrontation with intruder. But occasionally if such incident occurs they prefer to flee, sometimes they display their anger by making frightening hissing sound or displaying hood in case of cobra, some make their body or neck flat, take attacking posture & make pseudo bites. Sometimes they even encircle & lie down as if they are dead. If caught, then they secrete foul smell or waste or even omit. In case no option left, they attack & bite. It’s important to note that, they do not have any well planned game plan or revenge feeling when they bite humans. All snakes have eyes, tongue, skin, teeth, tail etc. Certain snakes like Python, Bamboo Pit Viper are having thermo receptor pits. These are situated in between eyes & nostrils. Snakes do not have external ears, hence they cannot hear, they can sense mechanical vibrations through their body which reach to them from ground on which they are resting. Snakes have monocular vision except few species like Cobra, Vine snake etc. Tree dwelling snakes have bigger eyes & better eye sight compare to other snakes. Most of the diurnal snakes which are active in day time have round & bigger eye pupil whereas nocturnal snakes have vertical pupil. The opening is adjusted as per the brightness of light in surroundings. Snakes do not have eye lids & the protection of eye is taken care by transparent membrane. It is a common misconception that snakes move very fast. On contrary the average speed does not exceed 7 kms/hr & highest possible speed is around 12 to 15 kms/hr by African Black Mamba.
  • 5 The snake has long, slender tongue divided at tip, it has inbuilt capability to pick up odour all around & make it reach to Jacobson’s organ situated in upper jaw. For this purpose tongue is always kept little wet. The small slot is available in top & bottom lip, even when they are tightly closed. This facilitates tongue movement without opening mouth. The colouration of tongue varies with snakes & their habitation. It is certain that tongue is used more than the nostrils itself, in case of snakes to detect the odour. Some snakes use their tail or tongue to lure their prey. Classification of the snakes: Snakes can be classified based on the shapes of their head, tail, scales, eye pupil, body shapes & length, movement style, place of dwelling/habitat, breeding behaviour, food habits (prey), etc. But main classification can be made based on their capacity to produce venom. This categorization is very important for common people, as their bite can endanger human life. On these grounds there are three main types: 1. Non Venomous Snake: These snakes do not possess venom glands or fangs. Their teeth are curved inwards to grasp & push the prey inside mouth. Their bite does not endanger human life. viz. Keel back, Rat snake, Python, Boa, Trinket, Racer etc. 2. Semi venomous snakes: These snakes do have mild venom & fangs located at the back or front of the upper jaw but quantity & quality of the venom is just enough to unconscious or kill the prey. The effect on human being is not severe. Its bite does not endanger human life. viz. Vine Snake, Ornate Flying Snake, Cat Snake, Sand Snake etc. Both the above categories of snakes are available in plenty and are killed because of our lack of knowledge & mostly irrational fear about them. 3. Venomous Snake: Venomous snakes have venom glands connected internally to fangs, which deliver venom to prey’s body during bite of these snakes. Venom makes prey unconscious or sometimes kill instantaneously & as a latter effect dissolves the prey to smoothen its digestion. Venom of these snakes is harmful, toxic to human body system and can kill human beings in the absence of proper medication. viz. Cobra, Krait Viper, Sea Snakes etc. Snakes can be further categorized based on their habitat. Worm Snakes, Sand Boa, Shield Tail burrow themselves under ground. Vine Snakes, Bamboo Pit Viper, Bronze Back, Ornate Flying Snake dwell on tree. Keel backs, Sea snakes are found in water, whereas Stripped Keel back, Rat Snakes, Python prefer humid, dark, bushes on land. Krait, Cobra captures other’s hole or burrow. The snakes which are active in day time are diurnal snakes and their eye pupils are round. viz. Rat snakes. The snakes active during right time are nocturnal viz. Cat snakes, and their eye pupils are vertical, whereas Vine snake is exception to all these and having special feature of horizontal eye pupil. Snakes have two methodology of reproduction, some reproduce by giving birth to young one’s directly (Ovo-viviparous) viz. Viper, Vine Snake, Boa etc. or few variety of them lay egg (Oviparous) viz. Cobra, Krait, Python, Rat Snake, etc. which hatch after incubation
  • 6 period. Some new born have egg tooth to break open the egg cover. Some of the female take care of eggs till they hatch. To extreme case King Cobra female builds even nest for her eggs. Snakes also can be categorized based on their technique to move. Long, slender bodied snake like Rat snake, Cobra, make ‘S’ like body shape while they move. Whereas Python, Russelll’s viper lift up their middle portion of body & move forward. Saw Scaled viper or some desert snake move by side winding. Snakes feed themselves on variety of non vegetarian food i.e. Toads, rats, mice, geckos, frogs, lizards, birds, insects, fishes, eggs etc. Few of them like Krait, King Cobra eat their own breeds also. Snakes do have lot of enemy; there are few species which feed themselves on snakes eg. Owl, peacock, kite, eagle, hawk, mongoose, etc. But human beings are their worst and most powerful enemies. Lack of true, scientific information, many mis-beliefs, unknown fear and self-centered, money minded businesses by human beings are the reasons for snake killing. Usefulness of snakes / Why & How snakes are important ? Rat like species and similar grass dwelling insect’s damage farming lot. Rat alone can eat or spoil around 25-30% of domestic farm / Agricultural products. The fact has been confirmed by many Nature scientists & Nature lovers like Dr. Salim Ali. Snakes feed themselves on rats. Rats have tremendous reproduction rate. One pair of them can give birth to 850 young one’s per year. Single Rat snake eats hundreds of rats per year. Snakes also help us in reducing other grass dwelling insects & mosquito which are troublesome to our health & cause nuisance to our surrounding. Snakes are better & effective means to catch or kill the rats and insects, than using man made traps and techniques. Thus snakes are important element of food chain and indirectly help lot, to maintain Eco-balance. Further, the snake venom is a useful material. It contains many other valuable elements along with few toxic substances. These useful elements are separated and used in many of medicines. Hameourages, mainly in the ovaries, eye pupil are treated by using Russell Viper’s venom, as it has got ability to clot the blood. Similarly, Cobra venom is used in medicine which acts as severe pain killer for arthritis, asthama, etc. Last but not the least, snake venom is used to manufacture anti snake venom injections. These ASV’s are the only effective & assured means to treat the venomous snake bite. Snake myths & facts (General) : In today’s date also, most of the well known, prevailing things about snakes are based on imaginative folk tales & ancestral religious stories. The truth or scientific information is still missing among masses. This fact is applicable to all aspects like snake bite, their temperament (wickedness), habitats & off course remedies on snake bites. The paradox is that, in some of Asian countries including India, there are snake temples, people worship snakes on particular day but due to lack of right information & fear they also kill snakes brutally, whether it’s venomous or non venomous. Lack of real information gives birth to
  • 7 many superstitions, which are related to religion, ancestral literature or heard information. Baba, Mantrik, Snake charmers also add few terrorising stories to this epic, just to earn their lively hood or make some money. There are myths attached to each variety of snake, but let’s start with general myths which keeps haunting these beautiful species. 1] All snakes are venomous. Their bite kills human being. Fact :- As already discussed, very few snakes are venomous and by proper training & study, identification is not difficult. The venomous snake bites are curable by proper & timely medication. 2] Snakes like to drink milk, as it’s their food. Fact :- Snakes are from reptile family and are carnivorous. Milk is not snake’s food, and it affects their body system adversely. When we see snakes, available with snake charmers taking sip of milk, the fact as different. These snakes take milk as water, since they are kept in captive in very treacherous condition, without water & food for long by their owners-the snake charmers. Further we add to their misery by offering them milk as its question of our religious beliefs. 3] Snakes suck milk from cow or buffalos, for this they tie their body around cow’s or buffalo’s leg to restrict her movement. Fact :- As already mentioned milk is not snake’s food. Further snake’s teeth are very sharp and their bite is piercing & quite painful which animal can’t bear just like that. In totality the myth is just baseless fiction. 4] Snakes like music, specially tune of snake charmer. Fact :- Snakes do not have External ears, hence they can’t hear sound coming from air but they sense vibrations received by their body. Swaying movement of snake to charmer’s tune is actually it’s attempt to locate the moving object –“gourd flute [Bin/pungi]” used by charmer to produce music. This act of snake is its instinct of self defense, that’s why many times snake tries to bite that object, which we intentionally overlook. 5] Whistling or uttering announcing ‘snake’ word at evening or night time brings snake home. Fact :- This is myth for sure. As already explained, snake can’t hear sound propagating through air. Moreover their brain is not developed enough to understand music or human languages. 6] Snakes like fragrance & hence they dwell on flowery plants like `Kevada’ [pandanus], ‘Rat-Rani’ & ‘Chafa’. Fact :- The snake have ability to smell & they are really very good at it. But their interest is much confined to finding prey & protecting themselves from enemy. The truth is that above mentioned plants are flowery with brilliant fragrance which attracts many insects, butterflies which in turn brings in their predators like lizards, geckos, etc. which is off course irresistible invitation for snakes to feed & hide, as these plants provide snake, suitable shelter / accommodation too. It doesn’t mean that snakes like fragrance.
  • 8 7] Snake hypnotise or make human being ill by their magical powers. Fact :- Snakes are just one type of living species, they do not have any magical powers, neither do they hypnotise anybody. But as they do not have eye lids, their eyes are open forever without any intermittent blinking. Additionally their split tongue keeps shuttling in & out through a slot provided in closed jaws. Close view of this sight is really mesmerizing & fear shocked person may describe this as if he has been hypnotised by snake. 8] Snakes take well planned revenge on person, family or group of people who have knowingly or unknowingly caused any trouble to them or their mates. Fact :- Snake’s brain is not well developed, it weighs around or less than 1% of their total body weight. Brain mainly controls their body functions. Overall intelligence, memory including their eye sight is very weak/poor. In this context, to remember person, follow them, chuck down the revenge plan are impossible things for snakes. Many snakes leave their partner immediately after mating & few even eat their partners after mating, if they are hungry. 9] Snakes offer blessing & fulfill human wishes on worshiping them. Fact :- Snakes doesn’t have sufficient intelligence to understand the ritualistic performances or offerings. They themselves are species in danger. Few of their varieties are already extinct. In such a scenario, expecting them to fulfill human being’s selfish, unwanted, self centered wishes is undoubtedly beyond their understanding & capability. 10] Snake protect the treasure or ancestral properties. Fact :- Snake prefer to hide themselves to protect them from their predators. Old ancestral places are best location in this context. Also metallic or wooden boxes or earthen pots with small openings kept in underground area or store room provide easy access, suiting climate & undisturbed stay to snakes. Sometimes, they follow their prey to such location. These all above facts must have given birth to this misconception. As such except human beings, no other specie on earth is interested in anything like, gold, ornament, treasures, which are not essential for livelihood. 11] Snakes take rebirth or after many births snake can fly or can take any form as per their will. Fact :- Snakes discard outer layer of their skin, the processing is called moulting & intended to discard waste product from snake’s body . The snake’s appearance or looks, just before & after moulting is remarkably different. Before it looks as if it’s sick & about to die, whereas after moulting it looks fresh, rejuvenated & sharp. This must have been reason to spread myth of rebirth. As such rebirth is superstition for all living beings & same is case with snakes. Also snakes do not fly, but few types among these species, mainly ornate flying snake or tree snakes, glide using wind flow & adjusting their body shape. But that jump is just few meters not like kilometers as we visualize or shown in films about flying snakes. In context of taking any form by snakes after sufficient existence on earth, it seems to be impossible as snakes are the oldest habitants of our earth & if this would have been possible, by this time all of them must have got converted to human form or something better
  • 9 than that, to teach human lesson for their irresponsible behaviour with nature & its constituents. 12] Venomous snakes become non-venomous when they are in water or non- venomous water snakes become venomous when they are on land. Fact :- Venomous snakes are born with venom glands and venom injecting fangs, whereas non-venomous snakes do not have these features since birth. This special feature does not have any relation with their presence over land or water, as venomous snake remain venomous throughout their life & non venomous remain non venomous. It should be noted that sea snakes are the most venomous snakes, though they live in water only. 13] If snake is killed, its new ones are born from its blood. Fact : - Some snakes are oviparous, means they lay eggs, from which young ones emerge after incubation period is over. Others are ovo-viviparous means eggs are incubated in mother’s body to give birth to young ones directly. So taking birth from blood is pure myth. 14] Dead or killed snake become alive, if kerosene is sprinkled on its dead body. Fact :- If kerosene comes in contact with fresh wound it causes tremendous pain & hence in response, almost dead snake shows feeble movement. But this is momentary phenomenon & this does not bring dead snake to life. 15] Snakes blessed by god posess hair on their body. Fact :- Snakes are from reptile family & they do not have hair on their body. Instead Baba, Mantrik, Snake charmer make cut or wound on living snake’s body and attach goat’s hair into it, as wound heals the hair appear to be integral part of snake. These snakes are presented as ‘God’s snake’ or ‘snake blessed by God’. 16] Cobra mate with Rat snake. Fact :- Cobra has got its own male & female species. Same is the case with Rat snake. Snakes do not cross breed with another snake species. In Marathi Language name cobra (Nag) is masculine & Rat snake (Dhaman) is feminine. That is why this misconception must have come. Also Rat snake appears much like cobra, if seen from far & before mating when two Rat snakes perform debate to claim female, their posing appears much like Cobra. Many people also feel that it’s a mating of male and female rat snake but it’s not the case in reality. It’s just a healthy fight between two male Rat Snakes. Additionally Cobra’s normally feed themselves on Rat snake. 17] If pregnant lady looks into snake’s eyes directly, snake losses its eye sight. Fact :- Above sentence is purely a myth. Care of Nature (CON) organisation’s volunteers have checked its truth and it is found that, this is a myth. This myth does not require any explanation, you can try it at your home. Just do take care of participating Snake & Human volunteer too. 18] Snake injects venom or gives bite with tongue or tail. Fact :- Snake does not bite with tongue, as its very soft, without any bony part or hard muscle to penetrate in animal tissues / skin. Same is the case with tail. But few snakes have
  • 10 rough chamfered tail to wide open or dig the burrows. The worm snake has hard pointed tip at its tail, which it hits some time to protect himself. But such a bite is not damaging, as it does not inject any venom or other toxic element. 19] Snakes coil themselves to form wheel shape & then throw themselves from hill top to follow human beings. Fact :- Snakes coil themselves to hide from any danger to them. Snake body is not strong enough to bear all humps & bumps, which he may receive in above process. It’s just human being’s baseless wild imagination. 20] Myths related to snake bite & its cure. 1. Worshiping snakes or keeping fast in the name of snakes, protect humans from any ill effect of snake bite or its venom. Baba, mantrik have god gift to reduce the damaging effects of snake venom, which they have achieved by years of study, worship & hardship. 2. In case of snake bite, encircling holy place (temple, mosque, church, etc.) helps avoiding its intended ill effect. 3. Well known enemy of snake - mongoose is immune to snake venom or in some cases mongoose eats some leaves & roots of specific tree to safeguard itself from lethal effect of snake venom. 4. Snake does not bite person, having leprosy disease & in case of bite, venom does not affect such person. 5. Applying ‘Nagmani’ (Snake stone/gem) or rubbing extract of some herbs at bite place has anti venom action. 6. Applying red hot iron at bite place cures the victim. 7. Chanting of mantras does anti-venom action & safe guard victim from all effects of snake venom. 8. Person bitten by snake feels that, Neem leaves or chilies taste sweet. Facts :- please note that non venomous & semi venomous snake bites does not have damaging or lethal effects on human body & all symptoms in these case are temporary. Whereas venomous snake bites are life threatening, but can be cured by proper medication which includes “Anti Snake venom” injection / treatment. All other remedies are myths & superstitions and do not help in case of venomous snake bite. But as many of snake bites are from non venomous or semi venomous snakes, person gets recovered of temporary symptoms on himself after some time & people credit this unachieved success to all baseless cures. Any mental, physical stress & carelessness in proper medication after venomous snake bite, adds to worsening venom effect. Mongoose is very fast & swift animal. It does not allow snake to bite him. But in case bitten, it dies. Nagmani sold in market are just benzene crystals & does not have any anti venom action. Snake neither understand ritualistic, religious performances nor are they capable of removing any venom from anybody’s body once injected. The person affected with leprosy has lost his senses. Hence bite & related pain is not sensed by him. But all other lethal after effects are seen on him including death.
  • 11 The snake venom affects nervous system & hence bitten person start losing its senses. It also includes human’s ability to discern taste. So victim does not feel chilly spicy or neem leaves to be bitter. But it does not mean that it tastes sweet. Even sugar will not taste him sweet. So this is all about the general myths regarding beautiful species `snakes’. But there are few mis-beliefs about specific type of snakes. Those will be discussed in their individual details. Precautions / Safety measures to avoid snake bites : Snakes are useful to human beings & nature. But their ability to produce venom & their venomous bites are matter to worry, as these may be fatal sometime. So it’s better to have some precautions to avoid snake bites, especially venomous bite. Because, ‘prevention is better than cure’. We all know, snakes love to dwell in humid, secluded places like bushes, rubbles, unattended storehouses. Hence following precautionary measures can be useful to avoid snake bites.  Do not collect debris, rubbles, bricks, firewood, in your house or very close to your residence, as these are favourable places for snakes to hide.  In reference to above, due care & proper checking should be done, while collecting firewood or handling bricks, heap of stones & debris etc. Same should be kept in mind while roaming around in marshy & shallow water areas.  Snakes find it difficult to crawl on smooth, plain surfaces. Hence external walls of the house & adjoining area up to few meters may please be made very smooth with the help of cement or clay.  All cracks & holes, pits in the walls shall be completely filled without leaving any gap, as these locations provide a temporary residence to snakes & also facilitate entry to the house.  Creepers or tiny branches of tree provide good pathways for snakes to reach & enter any house. Hence all such contact from tree to roofs/walls or fencing to house should be avoided.  While on a nature trail or wandering through forest, wearing hat, full clothing, shoes covering ankles can protect you from snake’s or any other insect’s bites. Also while seeking support from branches or rocky crevices, keen inspection of location must be done. Long and strong stick in hand, can be really useful for distant inspection & support too.  During overnight camping, safe distance should be maintained between cooking, washing, water storing areas and actual residential place. Torch should be used while working at such areas.  Most of the snakes trying to enter house are actually following their prey. Hence proper disposal of waste food items & garbage, can help a lot to get rid of rats, lizards etc. which will in turn keep away snakes from our residence.  Do have proper checking of your baggage, on return from jungle safaris or trekking, as snakes entered in your bag at those site, can get easy access to your high rise city residence.  People staying on ground or first floor should clean all openings starting or reaching their residence in the form of pipes trenches by phenol, to restrict snake’s entry in to such areas / openings.
  • 12  Do not make any hurry to touch the snakes which seems to be dead on its external appearance. It may be just pretending to protect himself. Due care is essential in handling any snake living or dead. Do’s & Don’ts for close encounter with Snake : It’s quite possible, that after taking all above precautions snake may enter your house due to excessive deforestation by human beings. In such emergency situation following points must be kept in mind.  Call experienced snake handler immediately. Their experience, knowledge helps a lot in tackling situation better.  Keep safe distance from snake. If possible, try to identify the snake by using torch like light source, from safe distance.  Use long stick to make snake run away.  Inexperienced people should not attempt to catch snake by any means. Moreover do not try to kill the snake. Wait till proper help arrives.  We all know that snakes are provoked by movement and likely to attack the moving object in self defense. Hence during very close confrontation with snakes, stay cool & stand still. Given sufficient time snake will take stock of situation & will leave the place without any harm to you, else if situation permits, with minimum movement, try to escape away as fast as possible. In case you or someone around you has been bitten by snake, do not be panic. Following precautions may be life saving after a snake bite. All the attempts should be made to make victim reach right medical center, mostly PHC at earliest. But mean while as a first aid, you can do following to restore his mental & physical health:  Most of the victims are afraid and hence need to be given moral support & assurance about his safety.  Do not allow victim to put mental or physical efforts, just ensure that he is relaxed & at rest.  Keep the affected limb below heart level and properly supported to restrict any movement of the same.  Wash the wound thoroughly with clean water.  In case of cobra or krait bite only, crepe bandage or piece of cloth should be tied around the affected limb that too only by experienced person. Do not tie crepe bandage in case of viper bite.  Do not make cuts at the site of bite. As this may cause more harm to patient due to pain and huge loss of blood.  Victim should not be taken to mantrik, baba or any Godman in any case. As for snake bite anti-snake-venom is only sure remedy. This vaccine is available in all Government hospitals and PHC.  Please note that for treating snake bite, snake need not be killed & taken to hospital for identification.  After reaching the hospital, inform the concerned doctor about victim’s other illness or allergy to any medicine.
  • 13 Law For Snake Protection : “Wild Life Protection Act – 1972” provides protection to snakes. According to this act, killing snakes or keeping them in captive / custody is offence / crime. Before keeping any wild animal as pet, we need to take proper permission from Government Authorities. Even 1975 Act regarding export policies pertaining to earnings from wild life offers protection to snakes. Off course laws are required, but spreading social awareness on these vital issues can play vital role, that’s the main intent of this book too. Protecting & conserving the forest is the actual protection of wild life and our nature, for this government need to pay keen attention. Basic steps to Identify the Snakes : All of us understand the need to identify the snakes. This may be helpful for protecting ourselves as well as snakes too. Therefore, before getting into the actual details of few types of snakes in India, we will note, few important aspects of this practice of snake identification. In context to identify the snake reader must remember that snakes need not match or resemble the photos or details mentioned in this or any of reference books, as snakes change little bit, as per their living place, climate etc.  Read some good books about snakes. Few important references we have already mentioned. These books are worth buying to have handy reference as & when required.  Visit internet sites giving information about snakes. Download useful information and photos for detailed studies later. Lots of video clips are available on internet giving so much valuable information & feel of observing snakes in their natural habitat.  Please do visit National parks, snake parks eg. Katraj Snake Park, Pune or Chennai Snake Park to physically see the snakes in their artificially created natural habitat.  To remove unnecessary fear about snakes as well as to learn snake handling, be part of such NGOs which work for great cause of conserving nature & protecting wild life.  To gain experience and acquire more skill in this field, volunteer yourself to work with authentic NGOs working for above cause. You must keep your snake love away from show off. This is must for your safety while participating in the activity of Snake handling, rescue & rehabilitation. We have already noted that, major percentage of snakes around us are non-venomous or semi-venomous. The damage to mental & physical health due to their bites is mainly due to lack of actual, true information & too much of fear about them. Hence to remove all shackles of myths and to know the snake better, let’s start with brief details of these beautiful species. Venomous snakes: 1) Cobra : Cobra is a member of “Big four” group. These are oviparous species (eggs are laid & young ones emerge by hatching eggs). Cobras are world famous for their venom and their hood. Spreading hood is tactics to frighten the opponent. In short it’s just exhibit to protect them. a) Spectacled cobra / Indian cobra: Picture below depicts spectacled cobra. These snakes are found up to 7 ft length. Body colour is yellowish, dark brown or black. Its neck has broad strip of white and black colour. Body is covered with white spots or yellow design. Back side of the hood has distinct mark resembling “V” shape or Spectacle shape or like two attached
  • 14 rings. Local people call it as mark of number ‘10’ (). When the hood is not spread, it looks like “Rat snake”. But lengthwise it’s shorter than “rat snake”, even head shape, neck & tail has got marginal differences. These snakes are found all over India. Normally nearby paddy fields, as they feed themselves on frogs, mice & rat snakes. When disturbed they raise their hood & make hissing sound. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Spectacled Cobra – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N77xk79MJ0c http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYTK6j-6L68 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_o4KgTjTVg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVwUIOg3MjY b) Monocled cobra : The monocled cobra is shown in Picture below. This cobra is found in North-East region of India, mainly Orissa, Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh. This is also called “Bengal Cobra”. Their venom is little mild compare to “spectacled cobras”. Hood spread is more and round, but length of hood is little less compare to spectacled cobra. The hood bears big circular mark. The body colour is yellowish brown or sometimes slight greenish shade. These snakes are nocturnal and try to attack when disturbed.
  • 15 c) King Cobra: This snake is shown in picture below. King Cobra is longest venomous snake of India. This can grow up to 15 feet to length. Because of its size, the quantity of venom in its gland is also good enough and it can easily kill one adult elephant or around 30 humans. These snakes are normally found in dense forest of Bengal, Orissa, Karnataka & Tamilnadu. Also found in Tea gardens of north eastern states. They feed themselves on other snakes. Their hood is long but less wide than other cobras. It can raise itself to height of 3 to 4 feet & can march forward in this position. Their body colour is yellowish brown or moss green with yellowish white bands on complete body. The female king cobra collects dry leaves to build the nest and protects her eggs till they hatch. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for King Cobra – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Rj7ff2A2XI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6yw28oTPwE Symptoms of cobra bite: Cobra venom affects our central nervous system. The pain can be felt in bitten area. As time passes, swelling starts around affected area & bite. Limbs become weak & victim feels sleepy. Eye lids start drooping. Saliva starts dribbling from the mouth. After some time sweating & vomiting starts, breathing become difficult. Heart beat increases. In the absence of proper medication, the death is certain. Important Note : The symptoms of snake bite totally depend on type of snake, location of bite on victim body, severity of bite, quantity of injected venom, victim’s mental & physical condition during & after bite and also his immunity. Myths about Cobras: Many of myths & facts pertaining to snakes are related to cobras and Rat snakes. Hence some additional one with few earlier covered are mentioned here.  Milk is main food of cobra.  Cobra like music, especially music played by snake chambers.
  • 16  Cobra visit specific places on specific days, to accept the offerings made to them specially milk.  Cobra has ‘Cobra jewel’ (Nagmani) on its head (Top of hood).  Using Nagmani, the damaging effect of snake venom can be reduced or eliminated.  Cobra bite on “Nagpanchami” day is fatal and can’t be treated by any means.  Cobra (male) mates with Rat snake (Female).  Cobra protects treasures or ancestral properties.  Male cobra can acquire multiple heads by doing years of worship / hardship. Same way female cobra can acquire magical powers and capabilities to attain any form. All above myths are people’s wild imagination, without any evidence or fact in them. Few of the explanations are already offered while detailing general myths about snakes. 2) Krait : This snake is also belongs to group of “Big-4”. The venom of this snake is very strong, it’s 8 times lethal than cobra venom but quantity wise it’s less. These snakes are nocturnal & oviparous. a) Common krait : This snake is shown in Picture below. Common krait is found all over India. In Raigad region of Maharashtra, it’s popularly known as “Surya Kandar”. Their body colour is bluish black, having white bands starting after neck and reaching till tail. The uppermost row of scales on body is of large hexagonal shape. These snakes look alike wolf snake, but cylindrical head, neck and body differentiates. The length of these snakes can be up to 6 ft. They feed themselves on mice, snakes & other kraits. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Krait – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkzwSiJx4pk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOwqCoGzdp0 b) Banded krait : Picture below shows banded krait. This is found in Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Bengal, Odisha, Assam. I have seen this during my visit to Dr. Prakash Amte’s “Lok Biradari Prakalp”. In Marathi it’s also called “Agya manyar” as its venom is much
  • 17 stronger than common krait. But it is extremely shy. Its length is up to 7 ft. and whole triangular body is marked with alternating yellow & black bands. Head bears inverted black ‘V’. It’s nocturnal snake and rare to find. c) Wall’s sind krait : This snake resembles common krait in many aspects. Its body colour varies from dark brown to black with white bands throughout length except head & neck. This is found in UP, Bihar, Bengal & few regions of Maharashtra. This snake is more aggressive compare to above two types of krait. Symptoms of krait bite : Krait venom also affects CNS of human being as in case of Cobra. But there is no much of swelling or burning sensation at the place of bite. Because of this people mistake it to be non-venomous bite and show carelessness towards availing proper medication. But once the symptoms start appearing they show rapid rise. Severe pains are observed in the abdomen & joints. If untreated or lack of timely medication can be fatal. Myths & Facts about Krait : In some areas people think, if this snake bites during night then victim dies before sunrise or if the bite has happened in day time then victim dies before sunset. Because of this myth this snake is suggestively called “Surya Kandar” in those places. In fact its venom is so potent that death can occur within few hours of sever bite. 3) Russell’s Viper : This snake is also member of “Big 4” group. It’s shown in Picture below. This snake is called “Kamblya” in Raigad region of Maharashtra.
  • 18 This snake is stout & little heavily bodied. But its attack is very fast & swift. Its body bears three rows of dark brown oval shaped blotches with white border, body colour is light brown and thin short tail, head is flat triangular and pupils are vertical. This snake grows up to 6 feet in length, venom fangs are placed in upper jaw in folded condition. It’s nocturnal & ovo- viviparous (mother gives birth to young ones directly). These species are little short tempered & when disturbed, it makes loud hissing noise & bites the intruder, sometimes multiple times. They are found at most of places, change in colouration is observed as per their habitat. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Russell’s Viper – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MSRiCK7w8U http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0xTG5B9rF0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFWZEMhcA5c http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEYB21rjdzM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9eUtRl1RhY Symptoms of Russell’s Bite : The venom of this snake has effect on human’s blood & blood circulation system. Sever burning sensation felt at the site of bite, which spread over the affected limb. Swelling occurs; blister occurs at affected area, adjacent area turns bluish black, bleeding starts from bite site or even from urine, saliva & gums. Due to this, victim becomes weak and feels restless, pulse become irregular. Lack of timely medication affects kidney function and may lead to death. Making cuts at the site of bite or tying crepe bandage may have damaging effect than help, so must be avoided. Myths & Facts about Russell’s viper : Unless Russell’s Viper turn back after biting, venom does not get injected in body. The fact is Russell’s venom fangs are folded in upper jaw. At the time of bite, he wide opens his mouth and injects venom. While trying to take out these fangs from victim’s body, he has to turn back his head little. Its natural way of doing this & there is no relation of this action with injecting venom or its quantity or venom’s damaging effect. 4) Saw Scaled Viper : Picture below shows saw scaled viper. This is smallest snake of “Big 4” group. But it contributes to the maximum snake bites wherever it is found, mostly all over India, except extreme northern & some north east states. These species are ovo-viviparous; length
  • 19 does not exceed 2 feet. Head is flat, triangular & much bigger than neck. Head bears white mark resembling arrow or spear head. Tail is short; eyes are golden with vertical pupil. Body is light brown having two wavy white lines running throughout body with centrally placed line of white spots. Scales are rough having saw-like keels, by rubbing these keeled scale it makes noise of phus – phus. These snakes move by side winding, movement is quite fast. It feeds on mice, lizards, small birds, scorpions, etc. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Saw Scaled Viper – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohU7DXavOlE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn6jX1QKgCg Symptoms of Bite : Venom of this snake has similar effects on human bodies like Russell’s viper. It affects blood & its circulation system. Being little smaller in size, compare to Russell’s, the effect & symptoms do not appear very fast. Also they are not as damaging as Russell’s. But if not treated timely, external & internal bleeding may weaken victim too much. Cardiac arrest may lead to death. Myths & Facts about saw scaled viper : Due to its tiny size many people believe that saw scaled vipers are non venomous or at least their bites does not lead to fatalities but same is not true. 5) Bamboo Pit Viper : Picture shown below is bamboo pit viper. It’s basically snake of viper category. Found in dense thorny bushes or bamboos. These snakes have special bodily feature called “Heat sensing pit” located between nostrils & eyes. Just like python, this snake also uses it to locate the warm blooded prey. This pit can sense temperature difference of 0.00030 C. These snakes are of light green to dark green shades. Underside is yellowish. The maximum length of these species is about 3 feet. Their heads are triangular & flat. Neck is thinner than body. Lower jaw’s external appearance is yellow. These are nocturnal & ovo- viviparous snakes. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Bamboo Pit Viper – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYfv5hvJrIw There are two more types of such snakes found in Western Ghats of Maharashtra up to Kanyakumari, ‘Malabar pit viper’ & ‘Hump nosed pit viper’. Malabar pit viper has pale brown or grey body with dark grey or brown blotches throughout its length. Head & tail shape, size is same as bamboo pit viper except colouration. Hump nosed pit viper has little pointed,
  • 20 snout, turned upwards, body colour is light, bright shade of brown, tail tip is of yellowish colour. Symptoms of Bite : These snakes are from viper family and hence symptoms do resemble little with Russell’s & saw scaled viper. But the venom is not very powerful & seldom results in death. Certainly it’s better to have proper medical treatment. 6) Coral Snake: Picture below shows coral snake. These snakes are of brown colour. Underside of body is bright coloured. Head & tail are blunt & short. Tail has two circular bands. Underside of tail is blue. Length of these snakes is approximately 1 foot. They look little like Dumeril’s black headed non venomous snake. These nocturnal, oviparous snakes are of shy temperament. When disturbed, shows bright underside of the body & tail. They are found in most of the places in India. In the Western Ghats, one more variety of coral snakes is often found named ‘stripped coral snake’. These are thin, long, short tailed snakes, having black strips over reddish brown body. Underside of tail is red & pearl white. They grow up to 3 & half feet. Symptoms of bite: There is swelling & burning sensation at the bite site. We should not forget that these snakes are venomous, though there are no records of deaths from coral snake bites in India. 7) Sea Snake : Most of the sea snakes are very venomous. Indian coast line is shelter to around 40 of such species. Their venom is more potent, almost 4 to 8 times more lethal than cobra venom. They are of shy temperament and do not bite. While on hunt they can stay below water for around 2 hrs. They are ovo- viviparous. Few of them discussed below: a) Hook nosed sea snake: This is very commonly found sea snake around Indian coast line. Body is greenish grey and having dark moss green coloured bands throughout length.
  • 21 Underside scales are off white. Upper jaw is slightly bigger than lower one. Scales are rough & tail is flattened. Nose is curved & square like. b) Many toothed sea snake / Sea krait : These snakes are having black or dark grey colored head . The body is grey coloured with yellow or white bands on complete body. They are 3 to 4 feet long. They are ovo- viviparous. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Sea Krait – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVgITTIVHZU c) Short Sea Snake : They look like many toothed sea snake, but their yellow coloured body has grey bands. Body is short & stout. Length does not exceed 3 feet. Tail is dark coloured & flat. Their venom is very strong & lethal, this evolved feature is just to catch their slippery & swift prey- fish. Symptoms of bite: On bite severe pain is felt in muscles. The affected limb gets paralysed. Urine becomes reddish after some time of bite. Myth: Fishermen feel that sea snakes are non-venomous hence they handle them very carelessly. If any of these snakes are found in fish net, fishermen just pick it up from its tail and throw them again in sea. But fact is that they are very venomous. Semi venomous snakes: 1) Common Vine Snake: Picture below shows Common Vine Snake. This can grow up to 7 feet long. Body colour is light or dark green. Head is flat, long & pointed. These are ovo- viviparous snakes, having special & unique feature of horizontal pupil in yellow golden eyes. Their venomous fangs are placed in upper jaw but in rear side. They are found all over India, in bushes, trees, vines but due to same colouration they are not noticed. When disturbed, they flatten & enlarge their body & attack with mouth wide open. Their venom is mild & does not have any long term damaging effect on human health. One more species of this kind is ‘Brown vine snake’, Picture below shows this snake. It resembles to dried creeper stem. Body colour is light grey-brown shade with dark brown spots on the body. The head of this type is longer, flattened & body is slender in comparison to common (green) vine snake. Its length is about 4 to 5 feet.
  • 22 Myths & Facts : 1. Vine snake attacks human’s head with intent to eat brain. 2. These snakes attack human eyes to make him blind. Fact : Vine snake is a delicate snake, it can not puncture or penetrate through our skull, as we all know neurosurgeons have to use a hammer & chisel to open the skull. This misconception must have come due to tree dwelling habit of these snakes. 2) Cat Snake : Picture below shows the cat snake. Their names come from fact that these nocturnal snakes have vertical eye pupil. These snakes have long slender body, neck is thinner than body & flat, bigger triangular head. Depending on their colouration & other features they are categorized as common cat snake, Ceylon cat snake, Beddome’s cat snake & Forsten cat snake. Picture below is of Forsten cat snake. These snakes can grow up to 7 to 8 feet. Except Jammu & Kashmir, these snakes are found all over India. Being semi venomous snake, their bite is not fatal but quite painful some time. These snakes are mistaken with saw scaled viper (venomous), but compare to these species, cat snakes are too much long, slender, flat headed with thin neck & distinct design on body. Moreover they do not move by side winding like saw scaled viper. It feeds on garden lizards, geckos, mice etc. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Forsten Cat Snake – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUnY3hJtYGM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHLlfJqEFHo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TluIX6U97wc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS0ui93vXq0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJJXcwT0N9E http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mheBD33u0F4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJm0YX6cHzw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Mx4J9-Oo6s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1vNmehkmrY 3) Ornate Flying Snake : This snake is shown in Picture on next page. They got beautiful colour pattern. Light yellow or green body has black bands & red spots. Pale green scales
  • 23 are observed on underside of body. Head is black & flattened with yellow bands. Big eyes are having round pupil. These snakes grow up to 6 feet long. Normally found in dense forest, prefer to dwell on trees. To catch the prey or escape out from predator/enemy, they jump from tree branches, flatten their body & glide like paper plane to reach the desired destination. These species are oviparous & diurnal. Their venom is potent enough to kill their prey. Bite is not harmful for human beings. For video please visit this website http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vhgC_g1cmU&NR=1&feature=endscreen Myths: Bright & multi-coloured snakes are very venomous, is the misconception which leads to killing of these snakes. These snakes are semi venomous & their bite does not cause any fatality for human, is a fact. 4) Glossy Marsh Snake: This snake is showed in Picture below. These snakes are found in coastal areas, marshy lands & mangroves. It feeds on fishes, shrimps, small crabs, etc. Its length is 1 to 2 feet. Top side of body is dark grey, black coloured & underside is of white colour. Tail is short. This snake is ovo-viviparous & nocturnal, but also found in day sometimes. 5) Sand Snake : These semi venomous snakes have three main types which are found in Maharashtra, Gujrat & India’s north west states. These species are oviparous & feeds on frogs, lizards, etc. a) Condanarus Sand Snake: This is long, slender bodied snake with complete body of light brown or moss green colour. Five long strips run throughout body. Eyes are big with round pupil.
  • 24 b) Stout sand snake: Picture below shows this snake. This species have stout body. Neck is pale brown where as body is of shinning brown scales. Backside scales has dark border, normally they do not bite. Their venom is mild & bite site get’s little swelling. It’s not harmful to humans. c) Leith’s Sand Snake : This snake resembles condanarus snake or stripped keel back. But its whole body is of bright yellow colour & four dark brown strips run parallel throughout body. Head is elongated & underside is light yellow. 6) Glossy Belied Racer : Picture below shows this snake. This snake is thin, slender & long grows up to 4 feet. Its body is yellowish coloured having faint brown strips. This snake is oviparous & feeds on lizards, mice, etc. 7) Dog Faced Water Snake: This Snake is shown in Picture below. Its body is grey or brown coloured. Head & neck are thick but head is broader than neck. Body has unevenly distributed dark spots. Nostrils & eyes are located on upper side of head top. This snake grows up to 5 feet & found in Indian coast line including Andaman Nicobar
  • 25 islands. During my recent visit to Andaman Island, while on tour to Lime stone caves at Baratang Island, We have seen one complete family of these species in shallow water. This nocturnal species are ovo- viviparous. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Dog faced Water Snake – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNxds5O0E50 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-mSteA4W7g 8) Indian Egg Eater : Picture below shows the referred snake. This snake is on verge to extinct. It’s found in Vardha, Yavatmal, Amaravati region of Maharashtra. This snake grows up to length of 2.5 feet. Body is blackish or dark brown with central line of yellow spots running from head to tail. At first instance this snake appears to be ‘stripped keel back’ or ‘Trinket’. This Snake is called as egg eater because this snake has special anatomical feature by which it breaks open swallowed egg & ejects back only egg shell. Non-venomous snakes : 1) Stripped Keel back : As the climate of rainy season is soothing to human beings, it is also suitable for snakes. In these days stripped keel back is observed very often. As shown in picture, its length is 1 to 2 feet. Its body is brownish coloured with two distinct parallel yellow stripes on both sides. It feeds on frogs, lizards, etc. & found in humid & wet places. The female lays eggs.
  • 26 Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Stripped Keelback Snake – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcrZqrwEXXc Myth : During their mating period, they are found in groups. Due to this, some people think that when one stripped keel back is killed, six of them gather there and when those six are killed, it is followed by a cobra. Due to our ignorance, this harmless and non-venomous snake gets killed for no reason. 2) Checkered Keel back : This is non-venomous snake found in water. As shown in Picture, its body is covered with black and yellow coloured chess board pattern. It is up to 2 to 5 feet long. It is very short tempered & restless snake and gives severe & painful but harmless bite. This oviparous snake is found in ponds, rivers, lakes, wells etc. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Chequered Keelback Snake – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uueolaxRNg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZqE3GWRwWA Myths : 1) It becomes venomous when it is on land. 2) If it bites human beings, it dies itself. 3) Green Keel back : It is a green coloured snake found in grass. It is shown on next page. It is about 1 to 3 feet long with little strong built body, covered with keeled rough scales. Tail is short. It has big green eyes with round pupil. This is oviparous snake feeds on toads, lizards, etc. and found in paddy fields & marshy lands of Central & Southern India.
  • 27 4) Python : pythons is robust, heavily built snake. As shown in picture, it has triangular head resembling spear head. Body is covered with yellow & brown uneven blotches. Its length is up to 9 to 25 feet. As we know, snakes have no legs and are evolved from crocodile like reptiles. But pythons are only snakes which have not completely lost their legs. It still remains in the form of “spurs”. These snakes are of shy temperament and prefer to hide themselves. They are found in dense bushes, marshy lands, pits or holes of other animals, caves etc. and feeds on mice, birds, small wolves, deer, wild boar etc. They do not crush their prey instead they coiled around the prey and constrict it. Prey dies due to suffocation. After swallowing the prey, python prefer to be at rest for many days to facilitate the digestion process. They have thermo receptor pits between their eyes & nostrils which help them to locate warm blooded prey. Pythons are oviparous & nocturnal in nature. They can stay under the water for 30 minutes. They get killed for their beautiful skin. These types of pythons can be found throughout India. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Python – Python at Chennai Snake Park – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCyzfb534GM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iVKEgeodEg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRseZZbpqFw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRR9cv6xRDM Python in Bush at Malshej Ghat – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9OK20kWoiE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fD8kYN1Hyjw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxDTCdt-ZBA Python at Katraj Snake Park, Pune – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NR4fOvS6iyY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI1fZECKsRg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SMQ_otcs1w http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrVXUeMF90A http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEhfHUtJJCU But some specific types found at some specific places like ‘Reticulated pythons’ are found in Andaman & Nikobar Islands. They grow up to 12 to 33 feet. Its body is covered with large
  • 28 yellowish brown blotches. Black line is observed on the center of the head. The good collection is available at Chennai Snake Park. ‘Burmee’s python’ is found in north east India & Uttaranchal. It grows up to 9 to 20 feet. Large & uneven blackish brown spots are observed on its yellow brown body. Myths: 1) Pythons sucks their prey from distance. 2) Python eats human being. 3) After swallowing its prey, it coils the tree & breaks the bones of the prey. 5) Common sand boa :- As shown in picture, it has stout & short body covered with keeled scales & blackish designed marks. Tail is very rough. The marks on body may be reddish brown or blackish grey. At first look it resembles with the venomous Russell’s viper. But it can be differentiated, as common sand boa has uneven marks on body where as Russell’s viper has oval & even marks on its body. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Sand Boa – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCXIJ_m8Oks Common sand boa can be found in sandy areas, rat’s holes, bricks, rubbles etc. Its bite is quite painful but there is no risk of life as this snake is non- venomous. It is ovo- viviparous & nocturnal in nature. It is found all over India except north- east region. It is killed for its skin. Myths : 1) It can cause leprosy by its bite or touch. 2) It is killed because of its resemblance with Russell’s viper or saw scale viper. 6) Red sand Boa : It is shown in Picture below. It is reddish or dark brown coloured snake. It is known as two mouthed (dutondya) as its mouth and tail looks same (alike).
  • 29 It is found to be 2 to 3 feet long. It is killed for its skin & due to some mis-beliefs. This nocturnal and ovo-viviparous snake feeds on rats & other insects which ruin the crops & other agricultural products. It is very much tortured by the snake charmers while presenting it as two-mouthed or God’s snake. They make small wound on its tail and fix goat’s hair in that, also make two small slots to fix glass beads, so as to resemble it with its eyes. The funniest thing is, if we restrict its forward movement, it starts moving backward, that is from its tail side. Snake charmers take undue advantages of this. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Red Sand Boa – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMB6AqGasQA Myths : 1) It is said that, keeping this snake in captive brings good fortune or wealth. For this it is smuggled, caged & killed on large scale. 2) Many people believe that, this snake has no bones or skeleton structure in its body. 3) This snake has two mouths & for six months it moves in forward direction & for another six months it uses its back side for movement. 7) Rat snake : This snake is a big sized long snake. It is usually killed due to its resemblance with Cobra. For the experienced snake handler it is difficult to confuse between cobra & rat snake. Rat snake is shown in Picture below. Rat snake is yellowish brown or greenish black in colour. Bellyside or underside of the body is yellowish. It has very long & slender tail. Distinct black lines are observed on lower side of body starting from its lower jaw. This can be used as main identification of this snake, during rescue operation, when only its head is visible. It mainly feeds on rats therefore is known as `Farmer’s Best Friend’. One Rat snake finishes hundreds of rats in a year. It is very swift snake. When provoked, before attacking it flattens its neck & makes hissing sound. Its bite is non-venomous but very painful. This oviparous snake is diurnal as well as nocturnal. Due to vast deforestation, it is often found near human habitat. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Rat Snake – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV2v9iZqsEs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MpR5YDeI7E http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bAjE_H6iAQ Myths : 1) Rat snake mates with cobra.
  • 30 2) It has sting in its tail which it uses to kill the cattle. 3) This snake sucks milk from cow & Buffalo. 4) Male & Female rat snake dance before mating. 8) Banded Racer : It is shown in Picture below. This snake is very swift, so it’s called ‘Racer’. It is around 2 to 5 feet in length. This snake is glossy light brown coloured. Body is covered with yellowish juvenile strips. Sometimes it is found in completely white colour. This snake is of two types - Banded Racer & Gunther Racer. When disturbed, this non-venomous snake flattens its body like cobra. Its body structure also resembles to small / young cobra. It feeds on rats, lizards, etc. This oviparous snake found near human habitat. Please follow link below to see video’s on you tube for Racer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqfX1uuBDOk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDAiRdjGSvI 9) Wolf snake : This non-venomous snake resembles with venomous Krait. It is shown in Picture below. Wolf Snake is very short tempered & attacking in nature. Always ready to bite & gives multiple bites in few minutes of handling. But being non venomous, it is harmless. It is reddish / pinkish brown or black in colour. It has got yellow or white bands on the body starting from its head & lightens towards the tail. It has triangular head with thin neck. It grows up to 1 to 2.5 feet. It is nocturnal in nature & very actively climbs on trees or walls. This oviparous snake is found near human habitat. It feeds on lizards, frogs, geckos etc. Myth : It is killed because of its resemblance with krait.
  • 31 10) Kukri snake : Profile of its teeth is like weapon “Kukri”, may be the reason for its name Kukri Snake. It is shown in Picture below. This snake is of shy temperament & generally doesn’t bite. It is found to be 1 to 2 feet long with very delicate reddish body having bluish bands on it. It has got arrow shaped mark on its head .This oviparous snake is found in central & southern part of India. Myth : Due to presence of bands on its body, it is confused with krait. 11) Bronze Back / Tree snake : It is shown on next page. This is a tree dwelling snake. It has long, cylindrical body with head wider than its slender body. Eyes are big compare to other snakes. A glossy / bronze coloured strip with dark brown or black border is observed on whole body starting from its head to tail. The underside of the body is whitish or light green in colour. This oviparous snake grows up to 3 to 6 feet in length & is very active / swift in nature. They can move on trees easily with the help of their long & sender tail. Myth : After biting humans, this snake climb the peak of the tree & observe funeral of the bitten person . 12) Trinket : This snake is shown in Picture below. It is medium sized snake with very smooth & shiny / bright scales.
  • 32 It is oviparous & observed all over India. Its body is light brown in colour with dark brown & whitish bands on it. These bands look like trinket (a hand accessory/ornament used by ladies). Its tail has dark & pale brown strips running parallel to the length. Neck has two black bands. Starting from the back side & just below the eyes small black mark is observed. These snakes grow up to 5 feet. When provoked take attacking position & attack with mouth wide open. 13) Dumeril’s Black headed snake : As shown in picture this snake resembles to venomous Coral snake but can be easily identified with its long & slender tail & a black spotted line on its back going till its tail. Its head is black but body is light reddish brown coloured. Female lays eggs. Its length is observed up to 1 to 1.25 feet long. It is found in heaps of dry leaves, wood logs, etc. 14) Phipson’s Shieldtail : It is shown in Picture below. This snake is found in Western region of Maharashtra. The one which found in Mahabaleshwar is named as “Mahabaleshwari shieldtail”. It is only 0.75 to 1 feet long. This snake has pointed head whereas tail is blunt & has chamfered cut. Body is dark purple or blackish blue in colour having yellow-black spots or orange bands on it. Scales are smooth & bright/shiny. They give direct birth to the young ones. They are found in heaps of dry leaves or under the ground. 15) Royal snake : It is shown in Picture below. Length of this snake is observed about 5 to 6 feet. It is oviparous in nature. Its body has very light shade of yellow or orange colour, having dark blue or black spots on it. These spots become light with its age. A reddish orange shade is observed on its neck.
  • 33 This beautiful nocturnal snake is found in various regions of India like Gujrat, Rajasthan, Punjab, UP, Kashmir & Himachal Pradesh. 16) File Snake : It is shown on next page. Its name `File snake’, may have come from its resemblance with the ‘file’ tool used by fitter in Mechanical Industry. It grows up to 2 to 3 feet in length. Body is black or grey in colour having white bands on it. They look like venomous `Sea snake’ but their tail is not flat. Its head & neck are of same size, little fat body. 17) Worm snake : It is shown in Picture below. It is also called as ‘Blind snake’. It is the smallest variety of the snakes. These species have length of just 0.5 to 1 feet. Its body is brown in colour, with smooth & bright / shiny scales. Eyes are very small. It has a sting at the end of its tail. It feeds on earthworms, larvae of ants etc. ‘Brahmini worm snake’ is one of its types having nail like covering on its head. It grows up to 2 feet length. Photos of Various snakes found in India taken by Santosh Takale & Uploaded on his Facebook account are available at link below : https://www.facebook.com/santosh.takale.9/photos_albums
  • 34 Attending Snake Rescue Call…… Care & Precautions to be taken : Finally we have reached to the end of this book, I will conclude by sharing some of my team experiences about snake rescue. We have already studies that, on encounter snake prefer to flee but some situation they get entangled or scared so much that they do not leave the place so fast, which causes panic among the people in close vicinity. In such cases, rescuing snake and putting it back to it’s safe habitat is important. This very important service to community is done by some snake lover’s or NGO working for similar cause, people call them “Snake Friends’. While pursuing this thrilling, dangerous hobby cum service, Person must inculcate certain qualities & remembering following points may also be helpful.  Safety First : While attending snake rescue call’s, ensure your safety first, Lethal effect of bite by venomous snake is irrespective of depth of your knowledge & love for these species. Many experienced snake handler’s die every year due to negligence and unsafe handling. One of my friend was briefing gathered crowd after rescuing one adult Cobra in one remote village, just to display it’s venom fangs he did head catch, which is not commonly advisable. Just lack of few second’s attention, cobra pierced it’s fangs through it’s lower jaw into friend’s right hand thumb. The bite was so severe that victim was unconscious for few hours before getting stable, though he was getting proper medical treatment.  Identification is must : First try to identify the snakes, this is important for public safety & your confidence and ease in handling. You should be 100% sure about the specimen you are rescuing, before starting rescue operation. On one occasion, newly joined volunteer rescued one Rat snake and in process he got severe bite. As the pain started increasing rapidly, under public pressure fellow was moved to hospital hurriedly. Now victim is confused and not very sure about the specie due to pain, fear and public pressure. Luckily the specimen was still available at bite site and was identified by expert to declare it as Rat snake to avoid any further confusion & treatment.  Be Patient : To ensure identification & proper handling, lot of patience & time is required. As snake do not show up immediately. Thus being patient is foremost demand for this task/profession.  Hard work : Snake rescue is not all about going to the incident place, identifying the specie, picking up the same & leaving it back to it’s habitat. It requires lot of hard work & labour to complete the task, as public around the place advice a lot but do not help physically due to fear & lack of knowledge.  Keep less expectation : Do not expect crowd/people around to be very cooperative and obedient, for them you are no better than regular snake charmer.  Be Cool : Do not bend to the public pressure, to take some unsafe action.
  • 35  Do not Show Off : Do not make show off of your guts and bravery, while on call. Also do not start explaining the specie, then & their only because on first catch snakes can be very offensive and difficult to handle. Educative session shall be specially arranged with volunteers to control the crowd and proper permission from Government authorities. All above points may be clear from my own experience narrated below, One Sunday afternoon I got call, regarding Cobra hiding in someone’s toilet sink, as nobody was around, I have to go alone. As I reached the destination after driving for more than 30 minutes, through city traffic, all building residents were bit angry for my late arrival, as if I am paid government servant, appointed for this activity. I didn’t show any reaction and asked for the location of snake hide out. They all lead me to one toilet sink covered with heavy, thick concrete shield & just started looking at me expectedly to move that heavy concrete cover on my own. The job was much beyond the scope of any single individual, hence I asked for help & majority of population gathered around left saying they are afraid of bite as if I am immune to same. After lot of request one gentleman came forward with clear opinion that he will ran away on first site of snake, as he seen the specie and very sure that it’s big size Cobra. After putting 1 hour labour in that stinking surrounding, we could not get glimpse of the snake, but now the area was visible & accessible. I requested residents to move back & reduce the movement around, so that snake can come out to take stock of situation in case present. Our efforts yielded after 45 minutes & snakes showed up it’s head. It was very clear from head pattern, colour, black lines on lower jaw & head size that it was big size rat snake. It was hiding in toilet pipe coming from building and opening in the sink. We waited long but snake didn’t come out, it was just pepping out for few seconds at the interval of few minutes. Somebody suggested pouring boiling water from first floor toilet, which was obviously rejected and person has received his piece of advice from me. But same idea has been used other way round; we mixed few drops of phenyl in full bucket water, tied gunny bag to sink pipe and poured this water from first floor residents toilet. As a effect snake came out rushing, entered bag and rest of activity taken care by me without much trouble. Rejecting people’s plea to show the snake. I poured few buckets of clean water on captive bag to remove any of phenyl traces. Drove to nearest Karnala forest and left snake free, it was almost 9-10 feet long rat snake, it was surprising that how it reached to the densely populated city center. The whole exercise excluding my travel time took 3 hours.  Do not Drink & try : Snake rescue activity requires your all senses to be working perfectly.  Know the Legal formalities : We all know snakes do not have much memory & they do not take revenge also but Snake friend’s do. Hence though you may be doing great service to mankind by pursuing hobby of snake rescue but you cannot keep these species in captive as per law. If you do so without proper legal permission, you will be taken in captive by Police.  Work as Organisation than individual : Attending rescue call in team is better than visiting individually. It makes your representation safe & authentic and also helps in addressing legal issues if any. Forest department of Government issues some Identity cards and authority to some authentic, veteran NGO’s.
  • 36 Note : Following information has been taken from internet sources. The detailed information & photographs of these snakes can be easily obtained from various internet sources. World Famous venomous snakes other than India : Black Mamba : The Black Mamba is the most deadly snake in the world. They grow 14 feet in length, and can travel at speeds of up to 12 to 15 kmph, the fastest snake in the entire world. They have a head shaped like a coffin. The Black Mamba is not actually black. They have a brownish-gray body with a light belly and brownish scales along its back. It gets its name from the color of the lining of its mouth, which is purple-black, which it displays when threatened. The Black Mamba lives in South Africa. They are active during the day. They often sleep in hollow trees, burrows, and will come back to the same place every night. The Black Mambas feed on small mammals and birds, like rats, squirrels, mice, rats. The Black Mambas are found in pairs or small groups. They get very nervous, and head away fast when a human approaches. When the mamba feels threatened it will raise its front and head about 3-4 feet off the ground, open its mouth, spread a flat hood, and shake its head. When they attack they will make several quick strikes, and escape as fast as they can. They can strike from 4-6 feet away. These fearsome snakes can strike up to 12 times in a row. A single bite is capable of killing anywhere from 10-25 adults. The venom is a fast acting neurotoxin. Its bite delivers about 100–120 mg of venom, on average. If the venom reaches a vein, 0.25 mg/kg is sufficient to kill a human in 50% of cases. The initial symptom of the bite is local pain in the bite area, although not as severe as snakes with hemotoxins. The victim then experiences a tingling sensation in the mouth and extremities, double vision, severe confusion, fever, excessive salivation (including foaming of the mouth and nose) and pronounced ataxia (lack of muscle control). If the victim does not receive medical attention, symptoms rapidly progress to severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, shock, nephrotoxicity, cardio toxicity and paralysis. Eventually, the victim experiences convulsions, respiratory arrest, coma and then death. Without antivenin, the mortality rate is nearly 100%, among the highest of all venomous snakes. Depending on the nature of the bite, death can result at any time between 15 minutes and 3 hours. King Brown Snake : King browns must be regarded as being a potentially dangerous species. Its venom is not particularly toxic but it is produced in huge quantities. The average tiger snake produces around 10-20 mg when milked. A good sized king brown snake may deliver over 150 mg in one bite. Despite its common name, the king brown snake is not a true brown snake but one of the black snake family. A bite from this snake would therefore be treated with black snake antivenom. As with many Australian snakes the colour is
  • 37 variable. Most specimens are mid-brown, some with a coppery tinge, others being quite dark. King browns are robust snakes with a wide head and large specimens will reach a length over 8 feets. Eastern or Australian Brown Snake : Don’t let the innocuous name of this snake fool you, 1/14,000 of an ounce of its venom is enough to kill an adult human. Coming in a variety of species, brown snake is approximately 4 to 5 feets long. The Eastern Brown snake is the most venomous. Unfortunately, its preferred habitat is also along the major population centers of Australia. The Brown snake is fast moving, can be aggressive under certain circumstances and has been known to chase aggressors and repeatedly strike at them. Even juveniles can kill a human. The venom contains both neurotoxins and blood coagulants. Fortunately for humans, less than half of bites contain venom and they prefer not to bite if at all possible. They react only to movement, so stand very still if you ever encounter one in the wild. Inland Taipan : This is a venomous snake found in east-central Australia. It is considered by biologists to be the most venomous land snake in the world, with a bite that is reportedly 50 times more lethal than that of an Indian cobra, the venom in a Taipan is strong enough to kill up to 12,000 guinea pigs or 250,000 mice. The maximum yield recorded for one bite is 110mg, enough to kill about 100 humans. With an LD/50 of 0.03mg/kg. Despite their dangerous reputation, inland taipans are very reclusive and there has never been a report of a bite to a human other than to herpetologists actually handling the snake, with all bite victims surviving through the administration of antivenom.
  • 38 Inland taipans are approximately 6-8 feet long and have scales that are brown or brownish olive-green depending on season. Dark chevrons are usually visible on the body and the head and snout are nearly black. It has been likened to the African Black Mamba in morphology, ecology and behavior. Rattle snake : The Rattlesnake is easily identifiable by the tell tale rattle on the end of its tail. They are actually a part of the Pit Viper family, and are capable of striking at up to 2/3rd their body length. The Eastern Diamondback in considered the most venomous species in North America. Surprisingly, juveniles are considered more dangerous than adults, due to their inability to control the amount of venom injected. Most species of rattlesnakes have hemotoxic venom, destroying tissue, degenerating organs and causing coagulopathy (disrupted blood clotting). Some degree of permanent scarring is very likely in the event of a venomous bite, even with prompt, effective treatment, and can lead to the loss of a limb or death. Difficulty breathing, paralysis, drooling and massive hemorrhaging are also common symptoms. Thus, a rattlesnake bite is always a potentially fatal injury. Untreated rattlesnake bites, especially from larger species, are very often fatal. However, antivenin, when applied in time, reduces the death rate to less than 4%. Mainland Tiger snake : A highly variable species, which does not always display the distinctive tiger stripes suggested by its common name. The body can be grey, olive-brown or almost black. In most specimens darker bands are visible. The pale areas between the bands are usually light brown or cream in colour but in some specimens they may be bright
  • 39 yellow. The underside is usually creamy-yellow but again may be a distinctive bright yellow in some snakes. The banding in juvenile snakes is often much more conspicuous, fading gradually as the snake matures. Tiger snakes are relatively short and stout bodied with a broad head. Most specimens reach around 3 to 5 feet in length, although particularly large animals may exceed 6 feets. The tiger snake is a very dangerous species. Its range coincides with the highest human population in Australia so encounters are common. Tiger snakes will usually act out an impressive threat display before attempting to bite. This begins with flattening of the neck and loud hissing followed by mock strikes. The Tiger snake has a very potent neurotoxic venom. Death from a bite can occur within 30 minutes, but usually takes 6-24 hours. Prior to the development of antivenin, the fatality rate from Tiger snakes was 60-70%. Symptoms can include localized pain in the foot and neck region, tingling, numbness and sweating, followed by a fairly rapid onset of breathing difficulties and paralysis. The Tiger snake will generally flee if encountered, but can become aggressive when cornered. It strikes with unerring accuracy. Death Adder : Death adders are easily distinguishable from other snakes by the very short, squat bodies, rapidly tapering tail and the broad triangular head. Colouration varies in shades of brown or grey. The tail tip is usually brightly coloured and is used as a lure by wriggling it to attract potential prey. Adult death adders are rarely longer than a meter in length. Despite their short size they possess the longest fangs of any Australian snake. The death adders are really reluctant to bite unless the threat is very close to them. The name death adder was probably originally 'deaf' adder referring to the inability of this and all other snakes to hear airborne sounds. They actually hunt and kill other snakes. They
  • 40 typically inject around 40-100mg of venom with an LD of 0.4mg-0.5mg/kg. An untreated Death Adder bite is one of the most dangerous in the world. The venom is a neurotoxin. A bite causes paralysis and can cause death within 6 hours, due to respiratory failure. Symptoms generally peak within 24-48 hours. Antivenin is very successful in treating a bite from a Death Adder, particularly due to the relatively slow progression of symptoms, but before its development, a Death Adder bite had a fatality rate of 50%. With the quickest strike in the world, a Death Adder can go from strike position to striking and back again within 0.13 of a second. Boom slang : The average adult boom slang is 3 to 5 feet in total length, but some exceed 6 feet. The eyes are exceptionally large, and the head has a characteristic egg-like shape. Coloration is very variable. Males are light green with black or blue scale edges, but adult females may be brown. In this species, the head is distinct from the neck. The pupils of the very large eyes are round. Boomslangs have excellent eyesight and will often move their head from side to side to get a better view of objects directly in front of them. The body is slightly compressed. The dorsal scales are very narrow, oblique, strongly keeled. It is a tree dweller that is found throughout southern and sub-Saharan Africa & becomes deadly because of its preference for aerial positioning in tree top and shrub cover. Boomslang delivers a potent hemotoxic venom to its victim through large, deeply grooved folded fangs positioned in the rear of its mouth The hemotoxic venom delivered by the Boomslang, affects the circulatory system destroying red blood cells, causing organ degeneration and generalized tissue damage. Bites cause intense pain, swelling and necrosis even when delivered in small amounts. In addition, the bite causes severe bleeding, continuing for extended periods, even 24-48 hours after the bite, making the Boomslang very dangerous to man. Bush master : The longest venomous snake, found in scrublands and forests from the
  • 41 Amazon River basin north to Costa Rica.Three species of bushmaster are known to exist and they normally measure about 6 feet long but may grow to as long as 10 feet. These large snakes are reddish brown to pinkish gray in colour, matching their forest floor habitats, and they may bear x-like or diamond patterns across the back. Although seldom encountered, the bushmaster is dangerous, with a potentially lethal venom. The bushmaster is a pit viper (subfamily Crotalinae). Infrared pits, located between the eyes and nostrils. Copper head : Copperhead is the most common venomous snake found in the eastern US and can be found throughout South Carolina. It is also known by the name "Highland Moccasin." As a species, it belongs to the genus "Agkistrodon" which also includes the Cottonmouth, also known as the "Water Moccasin". Copperheads are usually colorful and strikingly patterned snakes. They derive their name from the copper-like coloring of the head. The background color of the back and sides is tan to pinkish. Copperheads are venomous, pit vipers. Bites from Copperheads are seldom fatal; however, a bite may still produce serious consequences. Gaboon Viper : This species of viper looks like the warrior of the snake world. The Gaboon viper is the largest viper in the world, usually reaching around 6 to 7 feet long. But it is not only the length of the snake that makes it special, it's the length of the Gaboon viper's fangs. This deadly viper possesses the longest fangs of any snake alive today. The Gaboon viper typically feeds on small mammals and birds, using its enormous fangs to bring down its prey. This viper is just one of many deadly snakes that call Africa home.
  • 42 Philippine Cobra : The venom this specie is the most deadly of all the Cobra species, and they are capable of spitting it up to 3 meters. The venom is a neurotoxin which affects cardiac and respiratory function, and can cause neurotoxicity, respiratory paralysis and death in thirty minutes. The bite causes only minimal tissue damage. The neurotoxins interrupt the transmission of nerve signals by binding to the neuro-muscular junctions near the muscles. The symptoms might include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, collapse and convulsions. Blue Krait : The Malayan or Blue Krait is, by far, the most deadly of this species. Found throughout South East Asia and Indonesia, 50% of bites from the deadly Blue Krait are fatal, even with the administration of antivenin. Kraits hunt and kill other snakes, even cannibalizing other Kraits. They are a nocturnal breed, and are more aggressive under the cover of darkness. However, overall they are quite timid and will often attempt to hide rather than fight. The venom is a neurotoxin, 16 times more potent than that of a Cobra. It quickly induces muscle paralysis by preventing the ability of nerve endings to properly release the chemical that sends the message to the next nerve. This is followed by a period of massive over excitation (cramps, tremors, spasms), which finally tails off to paralysis. Fortunately, bites from Kraits are rare due to their nocturnal nature. Before the development of antivenin, the fatality rate was a whopping 85%. Even if antivenin is administered in time, you are far from assured survival. Death usually occurs within 6-12 hours of a Krait bite. Even if patients
  • 43 make it to a hospital, permanent coma and even brain death from hypoxia may occur, given potentially long transport times to get medical care. Belcher’s Sea Snake : The most venomous snake known in the world, a few milligrams is strong enough to kill 1000 people! Less than 1/4 of bites will contain venom, and they are relatively docile. Fisherman are usually the victims of these bites, as they encounter the species when they pull nets from the ocean. Found throughout waters off South East Asia and Northern Australia. Anaconda : Even though this is a non-venomous snake, its sheer size and strength makes it scariest snakes in the world. The anaconda is the heaviest boa constrictor in the world, and lives primarily in the South American Tropics. Anacondas live typically, in swamps and bogs, as they are great swimmers. Anacondas can reach lengths up to 30 feet sometimes longer, and have been known to eat very large animals, such as deer. The anaconda has even been known to attack and eat jaguars. Because the snake is nearly 600 pounds, a jaguar is no match for its incredible muscle mass.
  • 44 Eminent Indian Personalities related to this field : 1. Dr. Himmatrao Bawaskar : His main domain of research is in the effect of scorpion stings. The death of people from scorpion bites inspired him to work on finding, the drugs for scorpion bites. His research of treatment of severe scorpion sting with the help of Prazosin has reduced the death rate due to severe scorpion sting to less than 1% which was greater than 60% before his research. He managed the cases without use of scorpion antivenom which is expensive, needs laboratory, animals and not free from severe anaphylaxis reactions. His research has not only helped India but also tropical and subtropical countries like Israel, Trinidad, Brazil Saudi Arabia, Turkey etc. It is important to note that this life time research is done from day to days earning of family and without help of any funding agency. He hails from poor illiterate farmer’s family. He worked as waiter, labors and maid servant to support his education. After working as medical officer at PHC and other rural hospitals, since 1986 he runs his own hospital at Mahad, Raigad, Maharashtra having intensive care unit, he and his doctor wife manage the acute medical emergency without any trained medical staffs. Dr. has published more than 50 papers in national and international journals on various medical issues related to social concern The Lancet, Heart, Tropical Doctor, Transaction of Royal Society, Tropical Medicine JAPI, Q. J. Med. Toxicon, etc. on scorpion sting, snake bite, hypothyroidism, acute myocardial infarction, chloroquine toxicity; HIV, BCG vaccine etc. He was invitee to national and international medical conferences, awarded with a Dr. Mehta and Patel award for his best paper published in JAPI 2007) & also honoured with many civil & pubic awards. His autobiography written in Marathi language are “ Baristerch kart” and “Me Dr Himmatrao boltoy”. (Ref : Anil Agrawal's Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology) 2. Romulus Whitaker : Romulus Earl Whitaker is a herpetologist, wildlife conservationist and founder of the Madras Snake Park, The Andaman and Nicobar Environment Trust (ANET), and the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust. In 2005 he was a winner of a Whitley Award for outstanding leadership in nature conservation. He used this award to found the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station in Karnataka, for the study of King Cobras and their habitat. In 2008, Whitaker was selected as an Associate Laureate in the 2008 Rolex Awards for Enterprise, for his efforts to create a network of rainforest research stations throughout India. Rom helped the Irula tribe to get involved in extracting snake venom used for the production of antivenom drugs. He is currently coordinating an effort to save the Gharial, a Critically endangered species of Crocodile on the brink of extinction with less than 250 individuals left in Indian waters. He was producer of the 1996, 53 minute, Super 16 mm wildlife documentary ‘The King and I’ which received the Emmy Award for Outstanding News and Documentary Program Achievement, 1998. He has authored several scientific articles and popular books on reptiles, especially on snakes, including the comprehensive field guide, titled "Snakes of India - The Field Guide" in 2004 on the Snakes of India. He apprenticed from 1963 to 1965 at the Miami Serpentarium with Bill Haast, whom he affectionately calls his "guru". (Ref : from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
  • 45 3. Dr. Prakash Amate : Dr. Prakash Muralidhar Amte is a medical doctor and social worker. He obtained a medical degree from GMC, Nagpur. He moved to Hemalkasa to start the Lok Biradari Prakalp in 1973, a project for the development of tribal people in the forests of Gadchirolli district. The project transformed into three things a Lok Biradari Prakalp Davakhana, a residential school and an orphanage for injured wild animals – ‘ the Amte’s Animal Arc’, this rehabilitation center for wild animal is lively example of care & respect to nature and it’s all habitants. The Lok Biradari Prakalp seeks to improve health and educational services for tribals in the area. Hemalkasa lies in a tribal belt and the project provides health care to about 40000 individuals annually. The Lok Biradari Prakalp Ashram School has over 600 students, residents and day scholars. Dr Prakash Amte has written marathi books like "Prakashvata" & "Negal". He and his wife, Dr. Mandakini Amte were awarded the Magsaysay Award for 'Community Leadership' in 2008 for their philanthropic work in the form of the Lok Biradari Prakalp amongst the Madia Gonds in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra and the neighboring states of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. (Ref : from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) 4. Neelimkumar Khaire : He is Eminent herpetologist, closely associated with the study and conservation of snakes over four decades. He is the Director of the ‘Snake Park’ and ‘Rehabilitation Centre for Animals’, Pune. He is also founder of the ‘Indian Herpetological Society’. So far he has published five award winning books about Snakes & Animals. (Ref : SNAKES by Neelimkumar Khaire, Jyotsna Prakashan)
  • 46 TAKALE CHARITABLE TRUST Regd. No. E-592 (Shirdhon, Panvel, Raigad, Maharahstra-410206). First floor, ‘KALAVIHAR’ Build, Near Bartakke Dental Clinic, Shivaji Road, Line Ali, Panvel, MH-410206. Ph – 9967584554 / 7738984852 / 9224681972. Respected Sir / Madam, ‘Takale Charitable Trust’ has planned to organize a Lectures with slide show under our “ Science Communication & Youth empowerment Program ” based on following topics. The organization is conducting these sessions to popularize science & technology among masses as well as to develop scientific temperament in the students & general public. These are completely free, social awareness cum educational programs and are open for all. Lectures are delivered in marazI, Hindi & English. Details are as below: Speaker : Santosh Takale [B. Tech. (Mech.) Scientific Officer-F, BARC, Mumbai] Date, Timing & Venue : Suitable to Speaker & Organisers ( BaaYaa - marazI, Hindi & English ). Min. no. of audience : 100 Nos. Details of Program : (Few programs will be with Slide shows of 60 to 100 minutes) : 1. Sky Observation with and without Telescope ( AakaSa inarIxaNa). 2. Understanding the Universe ( ivaSvaacao AMtrMga). 3. Snakes- Myths & Facts. ( saap : samaja - gaOrsamaja). 4. Career Guidance ( kiryar maaga-dSa-na). 5. Atom for Peace (ANaU tM~&ana). 6. Evolution of Life & Minds. 7. Ancient Indian Astronomy. 8. Nature around Us. 9. Life is Special. 10. Communication skills. 11. Personality Development. 12. Science, Scientists & Inventions. 13. Climate Change & Global Warming. 14. Being a good teacher & a good Parent. 15. Science Toys with Practical Demonstration. 16. Understanding the greatness of Shivaji Maharaj. 17. Being true Citizen of Country with vast diversity-India. 18. Human Society : Myths & Facts (maanavaI samaaja : samaja - gaOrsamaja). 19. Management techniques & Time Management (vyavasqaapna kaOSalya va vaoLcao inayaaojana). 20. Manufacturing/Fabrication technology & Non Destructive Testing for Professionals & Students. Requirements - Safe sitting place for audience with lesser illumination for proper visibility of projected slides. 2 nos. of electric supply points with earthing. The advance intimation & booking of the dates & time can be done by contacting Trust office. Your courteous help is expected. Regards. Trustee, Takale Charitable Trust
  • 47 About the Author : Santosh Takale is senior Scientific Officer at Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai. He has done B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering & advance studies in Nuclear Engineering at BARC, Mumbai. He has obtained many certification in the field of Welding, Non Destructive Testing & Radiation Safety, which includes IWE (International Welding Engineer) & ISNT Level III in Ultrasonic Testing & ASNT Level II in Radiographic Testing, Eddy Current Testing, Dye Penetrant testing, Visual Inspection & Magnetic Particle Testing. He is Founder of ‘TAKALE CHARITABLE TRUST’ & ‘Institute for Computer & Information Technology-Panvel’. He is President of Sky Watcher’s Association of Raigad. He is also Honorary/Life member of many oraganisations in technical & social field. He has been honoured with award of ‘PANVEL BHUSHAN’, ‘PANVEL GAURAV’, ‘PANVEL GUNIJAN’, ‘MAHARASHTRA GAURAV’, ‘YASHWANT GAURAV’ & ‘RASHTRA GAURAV’ for his outstanding contribution in the field of science & technology as well as social field. Email : s_tacs@rediffmail.com / santoshatbarc@gmail.com About TAKALE CHARITABLE TRUST : ‘TAKALE CHARITABLE TRUST’ has been established & funded by Santosh Takale to spread Education & Computer literacy among masses. Trust runs it’s own Computer Institute for poor & needy students. Till date more than 10000 students have taken benefit from same. Trust also offers free of cost guidance for various vocational courses, which includes field of NDT, Welding, Preparation for competitative examinations, Personality development, Career Guidance & Communication skills & Language courses. Trust mainly works for Youth empowerment, Science Communication/Popularisation, Social Forestry, Conservation of Natural resources & Protection of wild life. Trust also organizes free medical camps at remote, tribal areas. All the activities of Trust are managed by Vaishali Takale. Trust organizes All india level, Open essay competition on current, happening topics. Till date SEZ-Merits & Demerits, Global warming & Social Forestry, Human Society & Superstitions are the topics covered. The intent was to spread awareness among masses. Trust annually felicitates Citizens, Teachers & NGO’s involved in philanthropic work, Science Communication & eradication of superstitions, to encourage such social activities in society. As a part of self initiative for Youth empowerment, science communication, eradication of superstitions & Conservation of Natural resources/Wild life, various sessions/lectures are conducted in School, Colleges & Villages on above topics. Till date (Aug-2013) more than 350 numbers of such programs are conducted all over India & approximately 70000 numbers of general public has been addressed. Website : www.takalecharitabletrust.org