In India, there are approximately 350 snake species however, only 15 to 17 percent of all snakes, including sea snakes, are venomous. Russell’s viper, Pit vipers, Saw-scaled vipers, Trimeresurus stejnegeri, Ptyas mucosa, Echis carinators, and many other venomous and poisonous snake species can all be found in India.
In India, approximately two lakh people are bitten by snakes each year, with about 50,000 of them dying. According to recent data, 1.2 million individuals in India have died as a result of snake bites in the last 20 years. Some of the snakes accounting for the bulk of casualties are mentioned below.
Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii), often known in the community as “Daboia” or “Koriwala,” is a highly venomous terrestrial snake belonging to the Viperidae family. The Russell’s viper has killed more people in India than any other snake because it dwells in farmlands where there is a lot of human contact and rodent preys. Its bites have the potential to be fatal. Its venom is a hemotoxin, which affects the nervous system of any creature. Its bite can kill a human after internal bleeding, excruciating pain, and a brain hemorrhage. This dark brown or brownish-gray snake- with an average length of 4 feet, strikes and envenomates rodents, small birds, and lizards. The viper reaches a maximum size of 5 feet. It has a life expectancy of 10-17 years. Vipers have a pair of long, hollow venom-injecting fangs that are linked to moveable upper jaw bones and retracted in the mouth when not being used. Without antivenom, its bite can kill a human in 45 minutes.
The king cobra (Ophiophagus Hannah) also called hamadryad, is the world’s biggest venomous snake, with a length of up to 5.5 meters and the ability to elevate its head 2 meters above the ground. It’s a creophagous snake that eats other snakes as well. The non-venomous rat snake, other cobras, kraits, and small pythons are among its preferred targets. It is not often belligerent toward human beings but is hostile and threatening during breeding season or when frightened. The front section of the king cobra hoists when provoked. It can swerve or dart forward in this stance to strike its target.
The venom of a king cobra is lethal enough to kill an elephant in just three hours after being bitten. Without antivenom, its bite can kill a human in 30 minutes. It can be encountered in India’s deep jungles, damp wetlands, bamboo clusters, and tropics. This colossal and powerful snake with pale yellow crossbars can be brown, olive green, or black. The king cobra is distinguishable from other cobras by the presence of 11 enormous scales on the crown of its head. They have an average life-span of 20 years.
The saw-scaled viper (Echis Carinatus) has a robust body with a distinct pear-shaped head, vertically elliptical pupils, tough and strongly keeled scales, and a short thin tail. Both sides of the body are covered in several rows of obliquely oriented serrated scales. Adults range in length from 1 to 3 feet. Echis, come in a range of colors including brown, grey, and orange, with darker dorsal blotches and lateral patches. They have an average life-span of 23 years. Saw-scaled vipers use sidewinding propulsion. They are nocturnal, emerging at dusk to forage on mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, amphibians, and invertebrates such as scorpions and centipedes.
Although saw-scaled vipers are diminutive, they are incredibly dangerous due to their irritability, aggressive temperament, and lethal venom. Saw-scaled vipers are believed to be responsible for more human deaths than all other snake species combined, in the areas where they dwell. The oblique scales brush against each other, creating a hissing sound that serves as a defensive warning to potential predators. These snakes strike quickly and bite victims have a high death rate.
The Indian Cobra (Naja naja), often referred to as the Spectacled Cobra, belongs to the Naja genus, found all across India. This species is one of the four snakes in India that are responsible for most human bites. The geographical region in which a Spectacled Cobra is found has a big influence on its coloration and patterning. This species might be grey, yellow, tan, brown, reddish, or black in hue. On numerous specimens, a hood mark with two circular motifs joined by a curved line, resembling spectacles, can be seen. They have an average life-span of 9 years.
The remarkable hood of this species, which widens when alarmed, makes it easy to identify. It hisses and strikes viciously if disturbed. The length of an adult specimen varies between 3.3 and 4.9 feet. Dense forests, broad plains, agricultural belts, rocky terrain, and marshes are all locales where it can be spotted. Rodents, toads, frogs, birds, and snakes make up the prey base.
The Spectacled Cobra is an oviparous species that produces its eggs from April to July, the female cobra lays up to 10 to 30 eggs. The female stays with the eggs for roughly 60 days, until they hatch. The hatchlings range in length from 20 to 30 centimeters. They are self-sufficient from the beginning of life and have fully working venom glands. The Spectacled Cobra can swim proficiently. Without antivenom, its bite can kill a human within 2 hours.
Kraits (Bungarus Caerulus) belong to the Elapidae family, which includes cobras. The average adult krait stands 5 feet tall. With little dark eyes, the head is short and rather flat. To the tip of the tail, they exhibit a bold pattern of contrasting dark and light bars. The body is long and narrow, with a triangular cross-section. Kraits have a smooth and shiny appearance. It has a 10-to-17-year life expectancy. Kraits are nocturnal creatures that feed on other snakes, including their own kind. The krait holds on to a victim snake’s body until it is motionless after plunging its fangs into it. Bites to humans are uncommon, yet they can be fatal.
Female kraits lay 5 to 12 eggs at once. Hatchlings are around 12 inches albeit they are not as colorful. Without anti-venom, its bite can kill a human within 45 mins.