Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snakes are harmless creatures, you shouldn't hurt them

A co-worker, Babu VL, was sharing his anxiety about spotting a big snake is his backyard and I suggested that he write to Romulus Earl Whitaker (born May 23, 1943) a herpetologist, wildlife conservationist and founder of the Madras Snake Park. He was surprised when a team mate replied. The email is reproduced below.

Here are some facts you didn't know about snakes. Shoo away your ignorance about these awesome creatures. Go read on!

Dear Mr. Babu,

Going by the photograph and your description, the snake is probably a cobra or rat snake. I do understand your concern regarding your kids, however, there is no need to panic.

Snakes living in residential areas are quite common and tend to keep to themselves. Snakes are shy animals and will generally choose to escape if you happen to encounter them. Contrary to popular belief, they will not deliberately chase humans, but if provoked or cornered they may bluff or even attempt to bite. Most people who have been bitten were attempting to kill or handle a snake or have trodden on it

Here are a few generic guidelines on living with snakes -
1. Don’t provide hiding places for snakes. Clear junk from around habitation, unless you want to encourage snakes ... which is also fine !
2. Watch where you walk. Use adequate precautions in known snake habitats.
3. If seen, allow the snake to escape.
4. Use a light when walking around in the dark.
5. Use proper shoes or boots and long trousers, especially when walking in the dark or in undergrowth.
6. Watch over your kids / pets.
The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust does not provide a snake-catching service. You could however contact the various wildlife NGO's or animal welfare organisations in the city to enquire on the availability of such a service, in the event of a snake entering your home.

Thanks for writing in.

Regards, Tarun.


Tarun Nair

Assistant Curator, Madras Crocodile Bank Trust.