Sunday, June 7, 2009

a snake that died of hunger!

“Snake! Take a stick, Whack! Whack! Whack!! Ah, now we are safe…” seems to be a common notion in the minds of people, be it a village or a metropolitan city.
Our watchman at the field station at Singampatti was needless to say, no different from these people, and had killed a Wolf snake, a non-venomous snake which lives and feeds amongst leaf litter in the wee hours of morning. He had come out in the night to answer nature calls and got so scared by seeing the snake that he took a stick (always kept close for security and contingency usages like this) and hit the snake some 3-4 times till it stopped moving and had left the corpse out there, scared even to move it from there. On explaining him his mistake and advising him not to kill snakes, he felt remorse and agreed not to do it again, just to make us feel happy.
The snake, a sub adult, measuring 63cm was still cold and flexible. The snake was so badly hit that the jaws were almost sealed together and the spinal cord was flattened at 3 different places! Dr Ganesh suggested that i do a diet analysis of the snake. The diet content of snakes are very significant in terms of the feeding habits and would be of great help to wildlife rehabilitators as they would know what the snake eats feed it properly.
The only way to do it is to see the stomach contents. Back at the field station, a miniature lab was set up in the nursery, and with Murugan, the ever enthusiastic driver, I started to cut open the snake and must confess that this was the first ever creature I was cutting open and my hands were shivering! some more inputs form Giby, I managed to pull out the stomach and the intestine and cut it open too and to my surprise, it had three long worms, alive and wriggling. I promptly thought it to be freshly eaten food, removed them and preserved them in alcohol and later was told by Abhisheka that they were internal parasites! And the stomach was empty.
This poor snake came out in search of food had actually died of hunger!

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