Holding lizards and observing them run around in the garden is one of my favorite pastimes. Being a reptile lover, everything about them be it their mysterious lifestyle or their uniquely designed bodies make me very curious to learn more and more about these crawly-slithery things. My big time dream was to hold a snake with bare hands and feel its soft body with my fingers. As I was born and brought up in a city, I never saw a snake in real life except in the zoo. But that didn't stop me from learning more about them. I attended workshops and seminars on snakes and also on how to rescue them and also learned to identify the differences between venomous and non-venomous snakes.
My first real life encounter with a snake happened in March 2020. Twas the night before the moon would turn full. My friend and I were walking to our tents in the woods and suddenly he heard sounds of something rattle on the dried leaves lying on the ground.
Shocked yet surprised, we stepped aside, switched on the torch only to find a full sized ‘Common Krait‘ just a few feets away from our tents. Common Kraits are nocturnal. A bite from a Krait would lead to little or no pain and this can provide false assurance to the victim leading to death due to suffocation within 4-5 hours! Luckily we weren't walking around barefoot that one night! That moment, I felt so alive and could feel the adrenaline rushing. We realized how lucky we were to have avoided the snake bite. And later that night, amazed and excited, my friends and I went on a quest for more snakes just like they show in the movies and left the Krait alone.
The second encounter with a snake happened in September when I moved to Panchgani to work at the Odd Gumnut Farm. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the team at the farm were all ready and pumped to build the pond. We started to dig and then found a small slimy body struggling and slithering around.
Already so psyched to find out what kind of snake that was and I came to a conclusion that it’s a non-venomous snake and picked it up with my hands and put it in a pan. That was the first time I ever held a snake! It felt like I achieved the ultimate! I left the snake near the pit where we collect the mulch. And that's how I rescued the first ever snake in my life! After doing a quick research, I found out that it was a Shieldtail snake which belongs to the genus Uropeltis. Shieldtail snakes are small, typically growing to between 25 and 50 cm in length, endemic to peninsular India mainly along the hills of Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. They are harmless snakes and have narrow, pointed heads.
Though many people dislike and fear snakes the same way they fear spiders and other creepy crawlies, it is very important to know that every species plays an important role in the environment. Snakes are both prey and predators and thus help in maintaining the balance in the ecosystem as well as in the food web. The more you learn about snakes the more you learn how incredible they are and also realize that they deserve our respect and protection. They too are the animals that we can learn to live with. If you spot any snakes near your house or locality, there are many organisations and NGOs working towards rescue and conservation of snakes that you can contact. Because in the end, it is our responsibility to save these endangered species.