Every year on July 16, World Snake Day is observed to raise awareness about the variety of snakes all around the world and ways to nurture and protect them.
One of the oldest species of reptiles to dwell on the earth, snakes have earned quite the reputation, often with a negative connotation. From the serpent who tricked Eve, to the myth of Medusa or the house of Slytherin, snakes have instilled fear and fascination and have been a prominent being in mythology and pop culture all around the world as well. But little do we know or care about this crawly formidable friend of ours. For instance, did you know:
- There are around 3500 species in the world out of which only around 600 species are venomous.
- The snake island of Brazil has the densest population of snakes.
- The lifespan of a snake is between 4- 25 years.
- Titanoboa cerrejonensis, were prehistoric snakes whose length was more than 40 feet and weighed more than a ton.
Known as the land of snake charmers, India has around 300 species of snakes, out of which only 50 per cent are venomous. Here is a list of the four most venomous snakes found in India:
King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
It is the longest venomous snake in the world and can reach up to 18 feet. It preys on other snakes and flares out its iconic hood and hisses when it threatens. Although their venom is not the most potent among venomous snakes, the neurotoxin from a single bite can kill a full-grown adult or an elephant as it affects the brain, causing respiratory arrest and cardiac failure.
Indian Cobra (Naja Naja)
Found across the Indian Subcontinent, the most recognisable feature of this snake is its hood mark or the coloured pattern on the dorsal scale. This highly venomous species does not shy away when it comes to inflicting damage on humans. They are usually found on the edge of forests and human settlements as they primarily feed on rodents. These snakes are most commonly used by snake charmers. Sadly, they are constantly being hunted down for their skin to make belts and handbags.
Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus)
This Dark Knight from the family of kraits is mostly nocturnal and has the reputation of being the most deadly snake in its geographical location. Although it is mild-tempered, this species is credited with having one of the most potent venoms. So don’t go on the lookout for the reptile, as this little friend is not to be taken lightly!
Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus)
Most widely noticed because of the bright black and yellow banded marks on its scales, the banded krait is a highly venomous snake found in the Indo-Chinese sub-region. They are shy nocturnal creatures who seem to be very lethargic; however, they are most active during the night while hunting rodents and other snakes.
Also read | New species of non-venomous snake discovered in Mizoram
Due to increased deforestation and climate change, snakes are now being exposed to danger as their habitats are being destroyed. Moreover, the demand for snakeskin in the fashion industry makes the reptile vulnerable to poachers and hunters. The right step here would hence be protecting them by first removing misconceptions about them. So next time think twice before calling a friend who betrayed you a snake!
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