Indians have a love-hate relationship with snakes. Busting a few myths about snakes so you can understand them better!
Snakes are both revered and greatly feared in India. They are commonly seen as a part of Indian mythology. While some myths depict them as the good guys, there's a whole lot that paints them as the villains of the story. It is quite understandable that people fear what they do not understand, but we live in the 21st century and have all the information at the tips of our fingers. Then why is it that we still treat this species as one to be greatly feared? Probably, it's these common misconceptions:
Snakes drink milk:
We have seen or heard of street performers and snake ‘charmers’ feeding milk to snakes. Truth be told, snakes are reptiles and cannot digest milk! The ingestion of milk can lead to the death of a snake! Then, why do these snakes drink the milk, you ask? The poor reptiles are often kept in horrid conditions and are kept away from the water, which leads to severe dehydration. This amount of dehydration will make the snake drink any liquid presented to them!
Snakes are charmed by a ‘pungi’:
In the olden days, snake charming was a very common thing performed by street performers. It was believed that the snake charmer is hypnotising the snake and making it dance to his pungi music. Here’s a fun fact: snakes DON'T have ears! They can sense sounds by vibrations and not by hearing. Snakes often imitate their prey before striking or if threatened. Thus, the imitation of the movement of the charmer and not hypnotism!
Snakes hold grudges:
Old Bollywood movies come to mind when we hear about snakes holding grudges. As cringing as those movies were, they were even more incorrect about their facts. Snakes do not have brains developed to the level where they can remember who wronged them, let alone hold a grudge!
Nagmani/Snake Stone/ Viper Stone:
Another ridiculous misconception: snakes have magical stones in their heads! Could we facepalm any faster? As ridiculous as this sounds, many cobras are still hunted in search of this mythical stone. Fun fact people, you’ll only find a brain inside a snake’s skull!
Identifying Snakes by physical characteristics:
If you Google this, you will find several articles claiming how you can differentiate between venomous and non-venomous snakes. While some might hold some truth, it is not always a hard and fast rule that applies to all species. You might want to consult an expert in case a situation arises where you must identify the snake!
While these poor reptiles have a conflicted reputation to balance, let's just agree to disagree to not judge them for their natural instincts and characteristics. Shall we?