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~Saving Man from Snakes and Snakes from Man-Insights from the Snake man of Madhya Pradesh~

Being born in India, the land of traditions, Gods and Goddesses, we all have come across the idea of worshipping trees, animals, reptiles because they have connections with the Hindu mythology. Snakes are one such species in India.

I visited the center and saw a world of snakes in itself- Rat snakes, Cobra, Russell Viper, Python. But the best part of my visit was meeting the Snake man of Madhya Pradesh- Saleem Bhai SaanpWaala. I watched a live snake show by him that afternoon where he spoke on different species of snakes, how to cure snake bites and clarified the myths and superstitions on snakes. He was holding the snakes and also allowed visitors to hold them and get clicked with them. I kept wondering if this job was really that easy. My doubts led me into a detailed conversation with this man on his life, his love for snakes and the common myths in India.

Who is Saleem Bhai SaanpWala?

Mohammad Saleem is a snake catcher from Bhopal who comes for rescue operations whenever there are snakes in around. His idea is not just to save people from snakes, but also to save snakes from people. To him, snakes are his first love and therefore, the idea behind conducting snake shows is to tell people that snakes are not our enemies and we must not kill them.
Saleem shared that India is a land of snakes and for many ages snakebites have killed people in this subcontinent. Such cases have created fear of snakes (Ophidiophobia) and myths in our country. Through snake show, he tries to provide knowledge on snakes- how to differentiate between venomous and non-venomous snakes.

These are few myths that I clarified from Saleem-

Are all snakes poisonous?
No! There is a wide range of both poisonous and non-poisonous snakes. The reason visitors are allowed to hold a snake and get pictures clicked is because that particular snake is a rat snake. It is a
common reptile pet in India and contains small amounts of venom that is negligible to humans. So even if it bites, there is no harm done. So now, if you spot people with snakes, do ask them which snake they were holding.

Do snakes take revenge?
Not at all! Scientifically, the brain of snake is not developed to memorize anything, take pictures from eyes and then take revenge. Therefore, you can take a picture of snake but he can’t really take
yours. That is what I call the perks of Being Human.

Can snakes drink milk?
Never! Snakes are cold blooded reptiles and not mammals. So milk is not a part of their natural appetite. Their favorite food is frogs, rats, fish frogs. Are you wondering how snakes consume milk on Nag Panchmi? Well, snakes are made to famish on water for some days. So they turn thirsty and now if you offer them milk or fruity or even red bull, they will tend to drink it thinking that its water.

Do snakes sway to music?
No! Snakes lack hearing ability so they sway not to music but to the movement of flute. They sway because of the reflex to respond to a moving object which they possess as a threat. What our movies show us is that snakes hear music and then they crawl to some distant temple where the flute is being played. This is ridiculous.

Can magic and spells cure snake bites?
If you are easy to fool, then yes! No magic can work for snakebites. Victim  must be subjected to first aid- ask them to be calm, remove tight clothing and accessories, avoid drinking water, prevent the victim  from walking. Anti-venoms shall be taken immediately from a trusted hospital. It is good to remember the color and shape of snake so that one can describe it to get the most suitable anti venom.

Saleem says that he is just a call away in cases of emergency-

Landline: 91-0755-2760713, Mobile: +91-9827060084

Address:  Sarpdansh Chikitsa Kendra, Near 24 Quarters, Roshanpura Naka, Bhopal (MP)-462003 Half knowledge is really dangerous. Do visit the Snake Interpretation Center at Van Vihar National Park, Bhopal to know more about Snakes and many other species of animals!

Nikita Kothari

For mptravelogue.com

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