Monday, October 31, 2011

Up close with fascinating snakes

About 30,000 snakebites are reported every year in India. Of these most fatalities are attributed to The Big Four – the Indian Cobra, Common Krait, Russell’s Viper and Saw-scaled Viper. However, snakes are among the most misunderstood creatures. Although some snakes are worshipped, there are several superstitions around them. They are killed on sight even though they control crop pests like rats and mice

The Bamboo Pit Viper (Trimeresurus gramineus) is a venomous pit viper found in southern India. The snake's venom is not usually potent enough to cause death in humans. Pit vipers have a sensory organ between between the eye and the nostril that enables them to detect warm-blooded prey such as rats, mice and shrews.

 The Indian Cobra (Naja naja) or the Spectacled Cobra (so named for the shape of the markings on its hood) is one of the most common venomous snakes in India. It is equally revered and feared. Cobra venom is neurotoxic -- it causes damage to the nervous system -- and accounts for many deaths in India. On being threatened, the cobra usually warns intruders with its outstretched hood.
The Malabar Pit Viper (Trimeresurus malabaricus) is found in higher elevations of south India. It is a venomous pit viper that hunts small mammals.

The Bamboo Pit Viper hunts warm-blooded prey such as rats and mice and is therefore a friend of the farmer.

Snakes cannot hear sounds. However, they can detect vibrations. The sense of smell is very advanced. This King Cobra tastes the air for chemical signals

 The Green Vine Snake is a common snake of the countryside. It can often be seen clinging to vines and creepers. Its green coloration offers excellent camouflage against foliage.
 The largest venomous snake, the King Cobra's venom is not as potent as that of the Indian Cobra but in one bite it can inject enough venom to kill an elephant. It is an intelligent and secretive snake and is being studied extensively by researchers at the Rainforest Research Station in Agumbe, Karnataka.
 The Malabar Pit Viper has a heat-sensing "pit" located between its eye and nostril on either side of the face. This specialised adaptation helps it to seek prey by the heat given out by their bodies. The snake is nocturnal -- it hunts by night
 The Buff-striped Keelback is a non-venomous snake closely related to water snakes and grass snakes. It is found across Asia.

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