PHOTOS: These Are India's Deadliest Snakes

14/10/2015 1:16 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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India's tropical conditions play the perfect host to a wide variety of snakes -- approximately 300 species, including 50 venomous varieties. Recently, eminent naturalist and wildlife adventurer Nigel Marven visited the sub-continent to talk about the 10 deadliest snakes India, as part of his quest to discover the most dangerous of these reptiles across the world.

"India has some wonderful wildlife, and of course some extraordinary and some very beautiful venomous snakes. I had always wanted to make a film about the venomous snakes of India and this was my chance," he said in an interview with HuffPost India.

nigel marven

Nigel Marven

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Marven revealed some fascinating experiences in India as well: "When we were with the Irula snake tribe in Tamil Nadu, in north of Chennai, there are whole families that make their living from snakes. Irulas used to kill snakes for their skins but that has been stopped. Now, they catch snakes to collect the venom to provide anti-venom which obviously saves thousands of lives and they have a great respect for snakes too. When I did film Nag Panchami (earlier), they then used live cobras in the ceremony. I was amazed how the people respect the snakes and they also know how far a cobra would strike. People had a very good knowledge of snake behaviour. This is great that because of Nag Panchami and ceremonies like that, cobras aren’t killed as a matter of course in India, which is superb."

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He spoke about how, in spite of being revered, the king cobra was a declining species, but expressed a special thanks to Indian snake expert Romulus Whitaker, who has invested all his efforts into making reserves for king cobras.

Marven also listed his quick DIY medical hacks on treating a snake bite:

Put a tourniquet above the bite (here's how to use a pressure bandage) -- that stops the venom from travelling through the blood system. Get to the hospital as quickly as possible. If there is any chance of getting a photo of the snake or at least remembering what it looks like then it will help the doctors know what snake has bitten you.

His advice on coming face-to-face with a snake:

You may put yourself in a lot of danger if you see a snake and want to kill it with a stick. The best thing to do is just keep away. Quiet often people get bitten when try to kill a snake or play with it. "So, you really shouldn’t do that unless you know what you are doing - like I do. But all reptiles are an important part of the natural world and they should be admired and respected and not feared and lost."

"If you see a snake, they will always slither away. So if you see one which doesn’t slither away, just back away from it and watch it and you see the beautiful way they move, their beautiful colors in patterns. The key is not to touch a snake. If you really are frightened, stamp your feet because snakes don’t like vibrations. So if you are going into some bush or in a rocky area where you think there could be a snake, if you walk along and stamp your feet that would frighten the snake away and the snakes will slither away from your path," he says.

Marven's show 'Dangerous Snakes' is currently airing Monday to Friday at 9 pm on Animal Planet. Here is his list of the 10 deadliest snakes in India.

  • Russell's Viper
    utahmatz/Flickr
    This snake also called Daboia, is named after Patrick Russell, a Scottish herpetologist who possibly was the first to distinguish and describe Indian snakes. Commonly found in Punjab and Bengal, this aggressive snake has earned a reputation for being one of the deadliest snakes. While several venomous snakes will deliver dry bites, Russell's viper always attempts to deliver a maximum venom dosage.
  • Indian Krait
    Wild Clicks/ YouTube
    Part of the 'Big Four' (the four venomous snakes in India responsible for delivering the most snake bites), the Indian or blue krait is a largely nocturnal snake by nature. It is often found in water sources, and delivers a bite that can be mistaken for something less fatal.
  • Saw-Scaled Viper
    Frupus/Flickr
    A (smallish) snake, the saw-scaled viper is found in the rocky regions of Maharastra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. It is largely nocturnal by nature, and extremely aggressive if aggravated. It has rough-looking scales with lightly coloured rounded patches on top, and undulating lines that extend from its head to its posterior.
  • Spectacled Cobra
    Rahul Alvares/Flickr
    Also known as Naja naja, this cobra should not be mistaken for the King cobra. It comes under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. A heavy-bodied snake, it can be easily identified by its hood that features a significant marking at the top of its hood. Cobras are mostly shy by nature, but can deliver a fearsome bite -- their venom contains neurotoxins that can lead to respiratory paralysis and cardiac failure.
  • King Cobra
    viperskin/Flickr
    Equally revered and feared, the King Cobra is possibly the worlds longest venomous snake. This snake is unique from other cobras in a number of ways: it feeds on other snakes, has a narrower hood, and features different markings on its head. When aggravated, this snake can raise one-thirds of its body, however by large is of a placid nature. It is also the only snake in the world that builds a nest for its young.
  • Hump-Nosed Pit Viper
    Dr. Caesar Photography/Flickr
    Often found in dense jungles and coffee plantations (especially Kerala), this type of viper features smooth scales and a wide triangular head that is distinctly broader than the neck. It's name is given on account of its snout that is wide and slightly upturned. Largely nocturnal by nature, this snake's bites can systemic toxicity and fatalities.
  • Malabar Pit Viper
    balharsh/Flickr
    This type of viper features a prehensile tail that can grasp or hold objects, and is commonly found in Southern and Western India. Mostly found during the monsoon season, these nocturnal snakes are capable of fast strikes.
  • Bamboo Pit Viper
    Dr. Caesar Photography/Flickr
    This brilliantly-hued nocturnal snake features folded fangs (so the snake won't bite itself). Bites from this snake result in acute pain and swelling, and it is often hunted for its attractive skin colour and venomous nature.
  • Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait
    wildsingapore/Flickr
    A venomous sea snake found in Indo-Pacific waters, the yellow-lipped sea krait regularly take to land to drink fresh water. This snake's tail is often mistaken for its head by oncoming prey, which it uses to its advantage. A beautiful and shy animal, this slim snake is extremely venomonous, and can be confused with eels.
  • Indian Rock Python
    Pandiyan/Flickr
    Called Ajgar in Hindi, this type of python can grow up to almost 10 feet in length on an average. These snakes, in spite of their giant sizes are timid by nature, and quite at home in the water. Often hunted because of its size, and tough but beautiful skin, the python (like most other pythons) is non-venomous, and kills its prey by crushing it with its coils.

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