Snakes In India? The Poisonous Snakes Of India

Yes, there are snakes in India found throughout the country but only a certain are poisonous mostly found in the deep jungles of India, and one can also see a cobra adorned around the neck of Lord Shiva. In total, there are around 290 species of snakes. Out of these, only 13 are poisonous enough to kill a human. The most commonly found are –  the Indian Cobra (Naja naja), Common Krait Bungarus caeruleus), Russell’s Viper (Dabiola russelii), and Saw-Scaled Viper (Echis carinatus). These ones pose a serious threat to their lives. But most of these venomous snakes are found in the deep jungles and are not usually seen freely roaming around the streets of big metro cities or populated regions. Most travelers tend to visit rich monuments and cities, these places are so thronged with humans that one can rarely see wild animals here. Did the information scare you? Well, fear not! The majority of the snakes found in India are non-poisonous, so you can go back to being normal from the apparent paranoia. If you do happen to encounter one, it probably will be a non-poisonous one.

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So fret not thinking ‘What if there is a snake in my hotel room?!’ Indian hotels are as good and safe as the ones back home. You might be hanging around with a fly or two in the cheaper ones. But when it comes to luxury hotels they are well maintained and the hotel staff is very particular about hygiene and cleanliness. They work diligently to keep the premises free from even the smallest insects. The places that tourists visit are all filled with homo sapiens barely giving the wildlife a chance to step in. So spotting a snake is a blue moon affair because it’s there but still very rare( rhyming intended). As much as the hypnotic eyes of the snakes send shivers down our spine likewise the snakes too aren’t a fan of the human race. They are equally scared in our presence. So unless we decide to step into each others’ territory. We’ll be just fine.

Snakes in India

But what if you really wish to see snakes in India sans all the worry? There are snake charmers at some of the tourist places who ask for a small amount of money, between INR 50-200(approx US $1-4) to let you capture a picture with the king cobra and you may also get to touch one. Why would any sane person want to step into a devil’s mouth? Because the snakes aren’t poisonous as their venom glands are removed prior to taking making them public. But still always be vary about asking the snake charmer before handling one, as the old saying goes ‘A stitch in time saves nine’.

I once was wandering around the streets of Pushkar and saw a group of travelers standing on the side street, talking to a snake charmer. They were negotiating the prices and since there was a big crowd, I happened to walk across the gathering when the snake charmer suddenly opened the box. It was a round wooden basket. The snake rose frustratedly from the box with his fangs out. It was just beside me, a few inches away. It was a terrifying moment and I could sense chills down my body. The feeling of threat was so strong that I instantly became numb and so were the people around me as it was a sudden event. It was my very first time being so close to a snake. In retrospect, I like the experience of being so close to a fascinating creation of nature but at that very moment, it was scary.

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What kind of a blogger who wishes the world to see ‘The Incredible India’ would try to convince his readers to do otherwise? I still want you all to see the wonderful country. So the next time you think of India, think of all the beautiful things this country has on display and forget about the snakes. India is equally safe, all of us in our respective countries encounter animals unexpectedly. That’s the same here, it’s not a common event so one should not worry about these issues. Usually, we tend to have a generalized idea about a country from what we hear and read. There’s a lot more to India than food, IT, snakes, and traffic( some of the positive and negative generalized notions). We have a population of 1.3 billion people living in this country, in harmony with the snakes and other wild animals, just like it happens around the world. It has much more to offer than the presumed risks. And don’t forget you wouldn’t get an opportunity to see a king cobra back home. So if you get a chance to see it, avail yourself the opportunity and you might have mixed feelings about encountering one. Jokes apart, you won’t encounter one without spending some money either outside the monuments or if you decide to explore the lush green forests.

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The most poisonous snakes in India are –

1. Indian Cobra – The holy Indian Cobra is worshipped in the Hindu religion. It is a highly venomous snake with a convex head and is found throughout India in various colors black, olive-green, and white-grey. These are commonly found in forests open grounds and fields.

Indian Cobra

What to do if you are exploring a forest and get bit by one?

Call for medical attention immediately. If possible, try to keep the affected limb at a lower than the heart area. Tightly tie a bandage or cloth around the area extending to the last of the limb to keep it rigid and unmoving. Antivenom should be induced in the body as soon as possible.

2. Common krait – This lethal snake is neurotoxic and can induce muscle paralysis. It can be identified from its cylindrical body tapered towards the tail, generally black or bluish-black with crossbars.

Common Krait India

3. Russel Viper – It has lunar marks all over the body. The head is flattened, triangular, and distinct from the neck. Mostly brownish-grey or dark brown in color with a length of 4ft. One of the most lethal killers of humans.

Snakes in India - Russel Viper

4. Saw-scaled Viper – They produce “sizzling” warning sounds and are fierce to attack and move towards the victim. Its rough scales, wider head with a stacked body, makes it unique among the rest. Mostly found in sand, soft soil, and rocks.


Snakes in India

As per Hindu mythology and religion, snakes are common animals as dear to gods as other animals around and there are various gods who are seen sitting on a snake, like God Vishnu – the Hindu god who is responsible for running the world and Lord Shiva the destroyer who flaunts a king cobra across his neck in the same fashion as a lady would flaunt her precious necklace made of the rarest of the stones.

Snake Deity India

Some more deities are worshipped under different names, in different regions. They are known to protect the devotees from snakes and there are special days belonging to the deities when people offer prayers just after the monsoon season ends. With a surge in devotee numbers, an environment is set up for the kids similar to that of a fair. There are stalls to eat at and other amusements. One of the most followed deities in Rajasthan is Teja Ji – who is said to have saved a cow from getting bit by a snake. He got bitten to save the cow. Touched by his willingness to save the cow, Gods gave him the strength to survive the poison of the cobra and blessed him with powers to cure snake bites, as per the folklore. With a firm belief in his legend, people visit the temples of Teja Ji and ask the priest to offer blessings and pray for the cure. Indians are free to believe in any idea, whether it’s religious or scientific, or both. If you belong to either of the latter categories, here are few medical procedures listed below.

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In case of emergency follow these first aid steps  –

  • Keep calm and reassured.
  • Keep your moments under control and move only if necessary.
  • Get rid of tight rings and constricting clothing.
  • Rest and be at ease.
  • Have someone take you to the nearest medical center as early as possible.
  • It’s good if you remember the shape and size, the color of the snake so appropriate measures can be taken for the treatment.

What should you not do?

  • DO NOT move the limb and do not remove any of the bandages until medical help is received.
  • DO NOT try to cut open or incise the affected area.
  • DO NOT apply ice on the area.

Note that not all snake bites are lethal and a lot depends on the severity of the bite, patient and the amount of poison injected into the victim’s body. If you haven’t been bitten but are around someone who got bit. Then keep the patient at ease and stay with them until medical help arrives.

The helpline no. in India for a medical emergency is 102.

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