Ooty man says about Fear of snakes: Myths and Reality

Fear of snakes was induced into the minds of people by the snake charmers to secure their fake position in this society. Out of 250 kinds of snakes commonly in India, only four of them have sufficient venom to kill a human.

Fear of snakes was induced into the minds of people by the snake charmers to secure their fake position in this society. Out of 250 kinds of snakes commonly in India, only four of them have sufficient venom to kill a human.

The Origins

Fear of snakes (Ophidiophobia) and role of Snake Charmers.

355Traditions taught human beings to workshop anything and everything he is afraid of: from rains and animals from aero-planes and cars. But tradition did not teach them to kill or destroy the gods during their appearance.

The worship of serpent deities is present in several old cultures, particularly in religion and mythology, where snakes are seen as entities of strength and renewal. There are several temples where snakes are worshiped and feed. The irony occurs when a snake is found by a devotee. The first thing which comes to the mind is to kill it. Snakes are mercilessly killed when found inside settlements or farm land:no matter they are venomous or non -venomous.

Many are afraid of snakes: so afraid that even the sight of one far away will arise fear and leads to bad dreams during night. Fear of snakes called Ophidiophobia was induced into the minds of people by the snake charmers. This was fueled by death of many people after snake bytes and tales from scriptures.

Most of the stories told by snake charmers are nothing more than fiction. The beliefs like snake drinks milk or make or secure nagamanikam (a gem said to be made by snakes) or snakes chase enemys are just stories built up on nothing: mostly by snake charmers to secure their position and power in the society.

Snakes are very much blind and deaf. They can only sense the vibrations on the ground and cannot hear the sound from the horn (Magudi) used by snake charmers. Snakes move according to the vibrations on the ground made by the snake charmer while stamping his feet on the ground.

The reality

Snake charmers eventually kill the snakes.They remove the fangs of the snake: the one connected to the venom gland to prevent snake bytes. The snake becomes incapable of killing prey and eventually die due to starvation. All carnivorous animals have a very hard time when they are physically handicapped or old.

Stories of snakes eating egg and drinking milk : the top list of grandma stories in rural India are not based on scientific facts. Snake`s digestive system is incapable of digesting egg or milk (There is one species of egg eating snake though not found in India).

People kill snakes believing that snakes follow human beings and enemys to kill. But the reality is that, snakes can’t recognize individuals and follow them.

 Snake Venom

The most common belief says that the liquid spilled by snake is poison: but in reality it is not. Snake venom is contains chemicals similar to proteins. Though human digestive system cannot digest the venom it doesn`t do any harm when consumed orally : given is no wound internally in the digestive system. People who drinks snake venom used to be featured by newspapers a few years ago.

.  Snake venom is harmful only when injected into the blood stream: even injection of  air from atmosphere into blood stream is fatal. This is the reason why doctors spray out a little from syringe before injection.

Venom is used by snakes to kill its pray and helps the digestion process.

Venomous Snakes

Out of roughly 250 kinds of snakes commonly found in India, only four types of them contain sufficient venom to kill a human being. Rest of them are either non venomous or just capable of induing pain.

The four venomous snakes which are commonly referred as Big Four. King cobra, another venomous snake is found only in the wild.

  1. Indian Cobra
  2. Common Krait
  3. Russell`s Viper
  4. Saw-scaled Viper.

A snakebite

There are only three reasons for an animal to bite: To protect themselves or to kill prey or to express their love. Snakes never come near a human to bite. Usually most animals including snakes move away from human beings and they are afraid of human beigs. Snakes usually bite only when harmed or attacked. A simple precautionary measure is to walk with a stick to keep snakes away.

Snake bites can be a dry bite or wet bite. In nine out of ten cases, the bite is dry and no venom gets injected. One should not panic when a snake crawl over feet.

In case of a snakebite its better to rush to a hospital nearby without waiting for any traditional medicine.No traditional medicine or rituals can cure snake bites.The victim must be made calm Making the patient feel relaxed is very important: in most of the cases snake bite victims die due to fear and subsequent heart failure. A band or cloth must be tied  three inches away from the affected area on both sides firmly (but not tightly). It must be loosened and tightened once in every 15 minutes.  This first aid must be done on the way to hospital.

Most of the government hospitals have stock of common anti venom which can be used to treat snake bites. This common anti-venom is effective in treating the patient bitten by any of the four venomous snakes in India. There is no point to waste time and find the type of snake. Sucking out blood from the bitten area should not be done, as any wound inside his mouth will allow the entry of venom into the blood stream. Repeated use of anti-venom can make body allergic to it.

Importance of Snakes in Eco- System

Snakes play a very important role in the eco system. Only snakes can crawl inside the hives of rats and rodents. Snakes help to save tons of food grains from being eaten by rats and rodents. Indirectly snakes help to prevent plague and other diseases caused by rodents.

Rat Snakes, which is commonly found in agriculture fields is called friend of a farmer and must be allowed to life in the fields. It is a non- venomous snake.

Role of NWEA(Nilgiri Wildlife and Environmental Association) in Snake Rescue


Venomous snakes must be rescued and moved to forest from villages. A snake bag is, a simple environment friendly device designed by Sadiq Ali from Ooty, Tamilnadu. It  can be used to rescue, transfer and release snakes safely and easily.

Sadiq is a Snake lover, a businessman from Ranipet, Chennai. Ranipet is a city known for good number of snake bite victims. During his childhood, he was shocked to witness the way people treat snakes, the cruel treatment given by his workers and neighbors.

This induced him, affection towards snakes. Sadiq has traveled all around Tamilnadu to make people aware about the importance of snakes in the Eco-system. He was the first individual to rescue the cobras found in Ooty.  Sadiq spends his time training forest officials on snake rescues. He lives in Ooty, but usually on travel to spread his message.

Sadiq Ali can be contacted through Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment Association, Ooty to conduct the snake awareness programme in schools or colleges. He also conducts snake rescue programs for forest officials.

He can be reached at sadiqooty@gmail.com or +91 9655023288. More information is available at the website http://nwea.in

Almost everybody is afraid of snakes, but a three hour session on snake handling and snake rescue by Sadiq Ali will be the best treatment to solve this.



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