Friday, August 19, 2011

Russell's Viper

It was a Friday evening and I was relaxing in front of the TV when all of a sudden, a neighbour burst in, telling me his dad caught a Russell's Viper. My eyes opened wide. Something I'd been wanting to see for quite a while. I got my camera and in a hurry left to his house with him. On the way, I recalled that a few years ago, I had been in a similar situation, when my grandad told me another neighbour had caught one of these snakes. But it had turned out to be a Checkered Keelback. However, this time, it was a real Russell's Viper!

My fingers went over the shutter button a number of times. Finally, I was staring at a wild Russell's Viper, a highly venomous snake (one of the 4 most dangerous snakes in India) that I'd been wanting to spot and photograph for years. It was rather long, about a metre in length. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), this snake was almost dead as my neighbour had whacked it several times with a metal pole. Well, it's not surprising, as the people here kill almost any snake they see, like I said in the Spectacled Cobra post.

Here's a close-up of it's V-shaped head and big nostrils.

This snake is known to kill more people than any other snake in India- hence being one of the most feared. The other 3 most dangerous snakes of India are the Spectacled Cobra, Common Krait and Saw-Scaled Viper. These are commonly known as the Big 4. Russell's Vipers are especially dangerous as they prefer to reside in human habitation and settlements, to forests. Its venom is haemotoxic, which prevents blood clotting and results in internal bleeding. A bite from this snake could prove fatal unless treated properly and in time. It is a really beautiful snake, but at the same time, a very dangerous one.

By the time I was done with my shots, it was completely dead. I carried it by hand to a spot where I dug a big ditch and buried it. Rest in Peace, the only Russell's Viper I've ever seen.

CAUTION: Snakes like these are, like I've already said a couple of times, highly venomous and dangerous. I handled this one only after making sure it was dead. Please NEVER attempt to handle, provoke or go near such snakes. Always keep a a good distance when photographing them. And remember, respect them, and they'll respect you.


john said...

Great story Shawn. I have to share my own experience. In Northeastern Thailand, there is a race of the Russell's Viper called a Siamese Viper.
I found one crossing a road near Sakhon Nakhon. A car was coming so I hurredly grabbed the snake by the tail so I could carry it off the road. It swung it's head with open mouth straight at my hand.
I saw those fangs and dropped that snake at lightning speed. The viper proceeded to pursue me, striking repeatedly. I tried to block it's strikes using my hat.
It latched on to my hat several times, and then made a mad dash to a brushpile at the edge of the road. I never got a single photo of it.

Shawn said...

Hey John,

That's a lucky escape for both you and the snake! I understand you were trying to save the viper, but we all know that snakes don't understand our good intentions. You risked your life for that snake, but consider yourself lucky for not getting bitten!

It's sad, though, that you didn't manage any shots. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll get another chance.

Great to hear this fascinating incident.

adrielleroyale said...

Yah, you'd never catch me trying to get near any snake. Ever. Well, unless it was at a zoo and had a handler or someone holding it so you could pet it. Apparently when I was like 4 yrs old we were at the zoo and they had a Boa Constrictor out for petting and I went right up to it and pet it lol! No fear back then :)

Shawn said...

Hey Adrielle, I know about your fear of all these snakes and creepy crawlies.... Haha for me it was the opposite, I was afraid of snakes before, when I was like 10. I screamed my ass out when a python tried to strike at me through the glass enclosure!

Thanks for the comment!


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