When we think of snakes, what picture come in mind first? Don’t we think of a creepy creature which is fierce and aggressive and ready to strike a man at the first sight of it? But is it true??
For some moment lets leave snakes aside and stand on a persons foot. What will happen? Depending on who he is, the reaction will be different. If he is a mafia, he will blow your head off. If he is a local strongman, he will punch in your face. If he is a illiterate young villager, he will push you aside and flood your ears with slangs. If he is a aged person, he will ask you to stand aside or if he is a very shy person, he won’t even say anything. So, you see how such a simple act brings out so diverse reactions! Now, try to grab somebody by his neck.
The same is true for snakes also. Every species of snakes have different personality, some are aggressive, some are mild tempered and some are timid. If I talk about the local snakes that I have observed personally, the matter could be clearer.
First start with the brand icon of Indian snakes, Indian Cobra or Gokhro (Naja naja). Once with the help of a friend I have got a juvenile Indian Cobra. It was packed in a plastic jar and it was aggressive. When ever I took my fingers near the jar, it didn’t delay to strike. But when I released it into a grassland, it didn’t waste a second striking me and tried to escape.
In contrast, some of the most aggressive snakes that I have seen are actually non-venomous. Take the case of Common Rat Snake or Dhamon (Ptyas mucosa). It is one of the largest snakes that frequently enter our houses in search of rats. Generally it does not pose a threat but when you grab it or step on it, if you are not prepared, it can inflict very bad wound as it tries to strike repeatedly.
Another very aggressive snake is Checkered Keelback or Jaldhora (Xenochorphis piscator). This non-venomous snake is found in ponds. You bath or swim in water, it will swim past you and wont even bother about you but try to harass it by grabbing or stepping on it it will bite and hold on readily.
Where as another keelback, the Olive Keelback (Atretium schistosum), shows remarkably different behavior. Even if you grab it tightly or pick it up by hand, it won’t try to bite, only it will try to escape. It won’t even open its mouth for once.
A land snake, Buff-stripped Keelback or Hele (Amphiesma stolatum), shows behavior some-where in between. If you pick it up, it will surely bite but if you handle it gently with real care, it won’t feel stressed and wont bite.
The same is true for another land snake, Wolf Snake or Chitisap (Lycodon aulicus). It is also common house snake and a very good climber, often found high on walls. With gentle handling, it is possible to pick them up without getting bitten. But they are really sensitive to smell. One captive wolf snake that I had once reacted really aggressively when exposed to the smell of shoe polish. I had not done this with other snakes but it could be true for them also.
Two tree snakes show two different behaviors. The Green Vine Snake or Laudoga (Ahaetulla nasuta) is very fast in striking. Being a tree snake it can lift its body remarkably and bite on the hand that is holding it. It may even bite on the nose or eyes. And when it bites, it holds on to it for a long time. But all these happen only if you are stopping it from escaping by holding it. Otherwise it will escape at your first sign.
The other one, common Bronzeback or Bet-achra (Dendrelaphis tristis), is different. It is reluctant in biting and bites only if you really provoke it. It too holds on to after biting. But if it gets a chance to escape, it will escape in blazing speed.
A venomous snake, Russell’s Viper or Chandrobora (Daboia russelii), shows a behavior altogether different. When I released a captured Russell’s Viper, it did not flee. It stands its ground and hissed loudly. It was so loud that if you hear it once, you wont forget it. And NEVER PICK UP A VIPER WITH HAND. Even if you survive after medication, it will leave a permanent damage on your body. But if you leave it alone, given enough time, it will go away.
So, what we see common in all these snakes is that they wants to escape at the first sign of danger that means us, except the viper. Vipers do not escape because they are not fast enough to evade danger by escaping. So, they stay there and confront danger face-to-face and. That is the moral of the story. Snakes show different behavior depending on the species but no one wants to bite us unless we are pushing it to do it. So if we leave them alone, they will leave us alone. And all will live happily ever after. Isn’t it true for human also??