HYDERABAD: The city is getting infested with poisonous snakes and residents of areas like Jubilee Hills, Gachi Bowli, Kondapur and Attapur have to be on guard in particular as it was in these areas where most of the snakes were trapped by forest department officials. Pointing to poisonous snakes including cobras getting adapted to human habitat in Hyderabad city, an analysis of rescues of snakes by Friends of Snakes Society with the help of the Telangana forest department in 2018 revealed that not only has the numbers of snakes rescued has increased, but also that 50 percent of them were Spectacled Cobras (the common Indian cobra).
Giving details of their findings, Friends of Snakes Society Chief Functionary Avinash Visvanathan said, “The trend we observed in metros like Hyderabad was that the presence of certain snake species that prey on rats is increasing. Cobras and Rat Snakes population is increasing particularly in the open plots filled with garbage which has high rodent population. Forest-dwelling non-venomous species like Buff Striped Keelback and Rock Python have almost been wiped out in the city, the latter due to indiscriminate rock blasting for construction. As a result, the city is being infested with poisonous snakes like Spectacled Cobra, Russels Viper, Common Krait and Saw-Scaled viper. These poisonous snakes contributed to 57 percent of snakes rescued in the city.”
FoSS in 2018 rescued a total of 5593 snakes (including outside the GHMC limits) of which 5457 were from in and around the twin cities. Out of them, 2835 were Spectacled Cobras. These species survive in a wide variety of environmental conditions and feed on varied diet and breed and thrive well in urban setup, especially in areas with improper garbage disposal and rodent infestation.
The snake society gets on an average at least hundred snake-related distress calls every day and around 450 of them are rescued each month. The frequency of snake encounters in the GHMC limits and its periphery are on a steady rise. “We treat the injured snakes at Nehru Zoological Park while the healthy ones are relocated to forest areas after being kept for a while in the snake shelter in Sainikpuri,” Avinash said and added, “Due to unavailability of space, animals invariably are entering human settlements. Most numbers of distress calls were received from those areas that are witnessing rapid developmental activities.”
Zoologists said the terrestrial snakes that were burrowing in nature were thriving while tree-dwelling (arboreal snakes) are dwindling as the city has lost green cover except in KBR park and other patches on the outskirts.
According to the Osmania University zoologist Dr. C Srinivasulu, “Urban ecosystems have lost tree-dwelling snakes. Only terrestrial snakes that naturally occur in the construction areas and are easily spotted are being rescued. These snakes have successfully adapted to urban conditions and thriving. Communities, where garbage is dumped in open plots abetting houses, turn breeding grounds for rats which in turn attract snakes. This show how unhygienic we are in disposing of our garbage.”
The frequency of snake encounters is higher during the months of June, July, October, and November. Snake encounters vary depending on the time of the year, chiefly due to climatic conditions, and dependence of breeding cycles on temperature and precipitation.