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Spike in snake sightings this monsoon

Seeking higher ground and shelter, snakes have shown up at many S Delhi homes

delhi Updated: Jul 20, 2016 19:17 IST
Abhinav Rajput
In south Delhi, snakes are spotted mainly in Sainik Farms, Chhatarpur Farms and Jawaharlal Nehru University as they are close to forest areas.
In south Delhi, snakes are spotted mainly in Sainik Farms, Chhatarpur Farms and Jawaharlal Nehru University as they are close to forest areas.(Bachchan Kumar/HT File)

Watch your steps the next time you enter your bathroom, an ATM booth or a playfield near a forest area. A snake might just welcome you at these places. With the arrival of monsoon, a few unwanted guests have slithered into several homes in the city. There have been several instances of snakes being spotted in homes in south Delhi in the past few months.

Wilidlife SOS, which carries snake rescue operations, said the number of calls related to complaints of snakes entering homes has increased since the arrival of monsoon. “We have received around 80 calls till now,” said a spokesperson of Wildlife SOS. This is 70%-80% more as compared to the rest of the year, she added.

In south Delhi, snakes are spotted mainly in Sainik Farms, Chhatarpur Farms and Jawaharlal Nehru University as they are close to forest areas, she said.

Last month, a Cobra was found tangled in JNU Campus. The 5 foot long snake was found entangled in a synthetic net. And, a 5 foot long rat snake was found on the campus two weeks before.

There have also been reports of snakes coming out in the homes in Chhatarpur, Maidan Garhi, Dhaula Kuan and other residential areas of south Delhi. People living in the residential quarters of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) campus say they often spot snakes and reptiles. In the past one year there have been a been a dozen spotting in the campus.

On Tuesday, Wildlife SOS rescued a 4.5 foot long cobra from a farmhouse in Dera Mandi, near Chhatarpur. The snake is currently kept under observation and will soon be released back into its natural habitat. (Photo courtesy: WILDLIFE SOS)

Wildlife expert Surya Prakash said, “We think snakes are entering into our homes. But, it is the other way round. It is we who are destroying their habitat, effecting their food chain. As a reason they are forced to come into residential areas in search of rodents.”

He added that lizards, rats and snakes enter homes for shelter and food, as their natural habitat is destroyed. The civic agencies of Delhi too are responsible for this as they have converted green areas into parks. “Even if a green area is converted into biodiversity park, animals or birds are forced to look for a secure place. It is then that they try to take refuge in residential areas for a short time before they find another habitat,” he said.

Alteration or destruction of the habitat of a particular wildlife species by deforestation, drainage, overgrazing, expanding agriculture, urban and suburban development, construction, etc forces the animals to move elsewhere or succumb to starvation or disease and die.

Read More: City’s forests home to many rare snake species

Abhishek Narayanan, officer-in-charge, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), who has been researching on snakes in Delhi for the last six years and has presented several research papers on the subject said monsoon coincides with increased prey density, ample availability of water, hospitable temperatures and the opportunity to find a mate which causes an increase in the overall activity especially in snakes like spectacled cobra and rat snakes.

The increased activity can also be secondary to flooding of the retreat sites and waterways used by the snakes especially in cases where snakes prefer drier areas like red sand boa and common sand boa, he added.

They frequently enter houses and urban structures to escape the flooding. Other snakes like krait and common wolf snake increase their activity secondary to increase in prey items, that is, snakes and lizards.

Harshad Solanki, who is a part of the rescue operation team for Wildlife SOS, said, “People get frightened upon seeing a snake as they think every snake is venomous, which is not the case. We advise them that they should not panic as it frightens the animal and chances of it biting is higher.”