Cohabiting with Snakes

A fantastic session on snakes conceived and facilitated by Pradip Thaker with Sharath Babu , BBMP and team.  Here is a summary.

1)Snakes are here despite heavy urban development because rats abound due to garbage.
2)if you remove one, 2 or more will take their place because food source is still there. ie rats
3)You can minimize rats in your immediate vicinity but cannot eliminate. They are in underground drains etc. If you don’t let the snakes get to them you are looking at 2 rats becoming one million in 18 months. Yes they are that fast in procreating.
4)Learn how to keep them around but without affecting you. They are NOT even as dangerous as crossing a road. (Only 4 snakes are venomous). Pay careful attention to what we summarize in a separate document. Or call Pradip Thaker for a session.
5)Avoid getting bitten. It is easily doable. But if you do get bitten, there are only two things to do
A)Keep super calm and relaxed (to slow down your circulation). Yes it’s hard but it’s the only way.
B)Get to a hospital that has antivenom. We know RxDx, Columbia Asia, Vydehi and Manipal have it. Must confirm with the rest.

Remember the three D’s for snakes
Deny entry, deny food, deny shelter

For your mental comfort, compare to Australia which has over 80 venomous snakes. Yet the incidents of bites there are less because they learn how to be safe from 5th standard !

Snake Co-habitation Safety Tips

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Do you know the Snakes?

  • Cold-blooded reptiles.
  • Hand-less and leg-less (Helpless!) creature.
  • Without eye-lids.
  • Cannot hear sounds.
    • Can sense vibrations on the ground.
  • Smell not by nostrils but sensitive tongue and Jacobsons’ organ in the palate.
    • Some snakes have thermal sensing pits to detect prey animals.
  • “Fight or Flight” response upon encounter with first reaction is to get away or hide.
  • Do not operate with vengeance or joy of game.
  • Found near human habitation due to prey-base.
  • Snake sighting is considered bad omen in some cultures – but in reality – Sighting by a human is a bad-omen for snakes (as it results in their death in most cases)!!!

Snakes in Bangalore

Only four species of venomous snakes

  • Cobra (has hood)
  • Russel’s Viper (Spots on the skin and looks like baby Python)
  • Saw Scaled Viper (looks like smaller version of Russel’s Viper)
  • Krait (has white bands on black skin).
  • Rest can be assumed non-venomous in Bangalore. Although, safe to keep distance irrespectively and provide immediate medical care in case of bite.
  • Hatchlings as small as less than a foot or few inches long are equipped with venom from day one of their life outside egg-shell. Never under-estimate that cute little thing!!
  • Instead of panic response at every snake sighting, learn to identify venomous species.

What preventive measures can you take to reduce encounter with snakes?

  • To reduce snake population in the area, use 3D formula (Deny Food, Deny Shelter and Deny Access).
  • At community level
    • Strong pest control measures for rats
    • Regular garbage disposal to minimize free-ranging rats and rodent population.
    • Remove Snake Super-highways across community walls in form of vines and creepers.
  • At household level
  • Keep back-yards, front-yards and garages clutter-free.
  • Keep homes sealed
    • Close holes in the walls or windows for air-conditioning pipes.
    • Close holes in the walls for cooking gas pipes.
    • Close space under doors.
    • Avoid habit of leaving doors open or unattended.
    • Install secured mesh windows rather than open windows.
    • Leave bathroom doors closed.
    • Seal spaces in the kitchen and washer-room for water disposal.
    • Avoid certain types of landscaping plants that provide shelter spaces e.g. thick shrubs, bamboo growth, high grasses.
    • Seal holes in the soil in front-yard and back-yards made by under-ground dwellers e.g. Rats, Rodents and so on.
  • To prevent snake-bite, take measures for personal safety. Ex.
    • Never put hand or foot where you cannot see.
    • Children to be cautioned against such behavior especially fetching ball from the bushes, clutter, etc.
    • Adult helpers and children to be cautioned against such behavior while plucking flowers, etc.
    • Exercise caution before putting on shoes from shoe-racks located outside the home.
    • Use torch/flash-light during late evening or night walks.
    • Do not panic if you see a snake, back-out as slowly and carefully as you can. Sudden movements may aggravate the creature.
    • Common variety snakes seen around Bangalore do not fly or jump. However, some of them can strike at least half or three-quarter of their body length. Hence, always be attentive to keep safe distance between yourself and the creature.
    • Pet owners may train pet to keep distance from snake with use of a rubber snake and snake hissing sound (http://whnt.com/2016/05/20/taking-action-preventing-your-pets-from-being-bitten-by-venomous-snakes/).

In case of snake-bite

  • Call for ambulance right away (Dial 102 and/or 108). If it is a pet that is bitten, call Thubarahalli Pet Hospital at 080 4113 2727.
  • Until ambulance arrives, one may take following measures of First-aid:
    • Keep victim calm and restrict movement. With increased heart-rate, venom spreads faster in the blood.
    • Make sure victim does not panic. Often, panic causes more complications to symptoms and situation.
    • Position victim such that area affected by bite is below the level of heart. With use of pillows, etc. keep level of heart higher than level of bite location.
  • DO NOT do any of following
    • DO NOT Apply tourniquet
    • DO NOT Suck the wound manually (with mouth) or through a machine
    • DO NOT Apply any pressure to the bite site
    • DO NOT Give alcohol or warm beverage to the victim
    • DO NOT Cut the wound
    • DO NOT Cover the bite wound
    • DO NOT Burn the wound or apply burned cotton
    • DO NOT Rub the wound
  • Legal Provision
    • Killing a snake or any wildlife is illegal and attracts penalty – financial and imprisonment.
    • It is against the law to be in possession of snake – alive or dead and is a severe offense.
    • BBMP has authorized snake rescue and removal volunteers
      • BBMP Hotline 080 2222 1188, Spurthy (7406079036, 9844530033), Mahesh (9916968959), Nagabhushan (9341240482)
    • DO NOT call un-authorized snake catchers as it is illegal as well as snakes caught by such individuals may end up in illegal wildlife trade exposing community to unnecessary hassle.
  • Do Your Duty
    • The Constitution of India [Article-51-A (g)] – Fundamental Duties of a Citizen includes:

“It SHALL be the DUTYof every citizen of India, to PROTECT and IMPROVE the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and WILDLIFE, and to HAVE COMPASSION FOR  LIVING CREATURES.”

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