May 2016
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Brown Vine Snake (Ahetulla pulverulenta) at Silent Valley National Park

14436281534 3b371ee2ef Brown Vine Snake (Ahetulla pulverulenta) at Silent Valley National ParkThis is a Brown Vine Snake otherwise called as Ahaetulla pulverulenta. These snakes are also referred as Vine or Whip Snakes. With thin elongated bodies and a sharp triangular head they are easily recognizable. Primarily this genus of snakes are green in color, but are also found in yellow, orange, brown and grey shades. A spectacular fact or the most unique feature of the genus is that they have binocular vision and have keyhole shaped pupils (eyes). These live in rain forests and their diet consists of frogs, lizards and rodents. The venom of this species is not considered dangerous to humans. Another interesting fact is their fangs are located at the back of their upper jaw and not as in vipers and cobras who have it in the front.

Saw the snake very near to the entrance gate of Silent Valley National Park. In fact a friend of mine saw the snake climbing out of the forest department – tourism center building and onto the road. Since the road is frequented by auto rickshaws, tourist cars etc, we were concerned about the snake’s safety and none among us were looking for photographs.  Shielding the snake from traffic we watched it glide to the rain water drain across the road. What was a mere 2 steps away to us took the snake a good couple of minutes. It had an interesting way of moving. Rather like the other snakes, this one was a little slow in its movement. It used to draw its head and one third of its body back, then kind of hurl it towards the road. This maneuver was repeated a few times till it reached the drain. Once it reached the drain and was in safety, my sole intention was to get good shots of it. Here comes the crowning part of the whole episode. As I was approaching the snake looking for the best angle to shoot, an auto rickshaw guy passing us, stopped and warned us that the snake would go for our eyes. He was meaning that the snake was a hunter of eyes. This is a local myth and I have heard it for a long times, about how the vine snakes attack the eyes of humans/animals. While I am not sure as to where and how this myth originated, the surprising part was that the driver of the auto rickshaw was a local and has been living there for generations. With the amount of awareness on wildlife now, it was a shocker to us that people still believe in these old wives tales. And the more surprising part was that this is right adjacent to the National Park. One would imagine the locals there to be more aware of wildlife rather than believe in such crazy stuff.

Any ways none of us paid attention to the myth and we went about photographing the snake. I wanted to talk to the driver and educate him, but was a bit late and the auto fellow had taken off before I finished photographing the snake.

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