Venom and bites, friends and foes

We celebrate people and their achievements. But what about animals who are an equally important part of the ecosystem? Though they are slithering creatures, they are venomous and dangerous, but dedicating a day to celebrate them, understand them, and 'shed' away all the fears and myths about them is equally essential.
Wishing you a happy existence day, dearest snakes!(Tundra Books)
Wishing you a happy existence day, dearest snakes!(Tundra Books)
Published on Jul 16, 2021 11:56 AM IST
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Have you ever enjoyed those games on your mobile where the snake goes round and round and eats bits of food and grows longer with every bite? Have you ever played snake and ladder during summer vacations with your cousins? Well, it might sound weird but snakes are very much a part of our life. Snakes in your phone, snakes on board games, snakes in your garden, snakes in your backyard, they are everywhere.

But what is it that makes us afraid of these slithering creatures? Is it the venom that might kill us or the sight of them crawling somewhere that disgusts us? While India is called the land of snake charmers, everyone just seems to love the tune that they play and songs like ‘Nagin Dance’ are deemed to be baraat-friendly songs. But when the protagonist comes into action, everyone leaves the stage.

With their famous hiss sound and intriguing bodily patterns, snakes have inspired a sense of fear and fascination in the human mind for ages. These creatures do have a bad reputation and thousands of myths attached to them. But with the number of species that these creatures have, they could fill the entire Antarctic Island. (But let’s not allow them to haunt the cute penguins. They are better off in Amazon!)

From leaf-nosed snakes to rainbow-colored ones, from flying snakes to swimming snakes, from tentacled snakes to hairy bush vipers, there are over 35,000 species of snakes in the world. Interestingly, only 600 of them are venomous enough to kill a fully grown human.

Out of these whopping number of species, India houses around 6,300 species which means we need to be careful of only a few species such as krait, Russel’s viper, saw-scaled viper, and Indian spectacled cobra.

With these roaming around, why would we need rainbows and colour palettes?(
With these roaming around, why would we need rainbows and colour palettes?(

Snakes are considered to be one of the oldest creatures to exist on the surface of the earth. Lurking in the semi-frozen tundra of northern Canada and green jungles of the Amazon, they are not waiting for you to have their dinner. Sharp teeth, swift moves, and venomous teeth make them one of the sharpest predators of the world. But wait till you meet the sweet rattlesnakes who take care of their friends and kids and also very active on “Jungle Media” always ready to make new friends and post pics on “Snakegram”.

I will bite you but not before clicking a pic for "Snakegram".(Healthline)
I will bite you but not before clicking a pic for "Snakegram".(Healthline)

Coming on to why are we exactly reading about snakes. Today is World Snake Day- a day where you don’t hug the snakes and bring them to your bed but increase awareness about them in society. Though the mention of snakes cannot make our hearts race as does the mention of cute-eyed puppies or little cats, they still want us to understand them.

Most people are scared of snakes and it might stem from the feeling of unfamiliarity, and this leads to extreme reactions like killing it or running away from it when they encounter one. The fear of snakes or ophidiophobia is quite common but this can be eliminated through some simple steps like reading more about snakes and understanding their behaviour, visiting wildlife sanctuaries or zoos where snakes can be seen in their natural habitat, touching the snake, and trying to find methods to stay calm when near a snake.

One way or the other, fictional dramas have also created a sense of fear in our minds. Be it Sridevi’s Nagina or Ekta Kapoor’s Icchadhaari Nagin, these do nothing but increase the myths and mysteries about snakes. Some people also believe that when a snake bites you then you can survive only when you bite back the snake. But only a handful of people know that most snake bites are dry or they don’t inject venom when they bite. This can be lethal if the snake wants you to realise your position and bite you back with double the fervour.

This World Snake Day, don’t make snakes your pet but try to change the misconceptions that surround these slithering creatures. Before killing that small rattlesnake in your backyard, remember that he can be your best friend and together you can pose for “Snakegram”.

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Thursday, October 21, 2021