The snake rescuers say that sightings are common this time of year, but more people are noticing the snakes due to work from home.

Mohan rescuing snakes in BengaluruRepresntational Image
news Wildlife Saturday, May 22, 2021 - 18:30

Cloudy skies, rain and cool temperatures in Bengaluru coupled with reduced human activity due to the state-wide lockdown since April 28, have kept snake rescuers in the city busier than ever. On May 21, by 5 pm, Mohan, a volunteer snake rescuer with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), had rescued his eighth snake of the day in the city. “In monsoon, which is the hatching season, every year people call saying that they have spotted a snake in their toilets or in their washrooms or gardens,” he says. “But now, the number has dramatically increased as a result of the lockdown; every day on average I am attending to seven-eight locations. Before the lockdown, I was on average rescuing two-three snakes a day,” he adds.

According to Mohan, since people are forced to stay at home, they spot snakes within their households that they otherwise would not have noticed. “It is highly possible that the snakes would have been active in the same places, but people would not notice given that they were not home, or too busy or tired to notice snakes in their gardens or even balconies. Many people call us when they notice snakes in vacant plots of their neighbourhood too,” Mohan points out.

“In Banaswadi, I rescued a tree snake on May 21. It is very rare. But it can’t be that somebody left it there all of a sudden. It was always there, but since it is peaceful, it might have come out and people spotted it only now,” he explains. Lately, Mohan has been getting calls from areas like Banaswadi, HBR Layout, Hebbal, Thanisandra, Nagarbhavi, Nagawara and Marathahalli. He says that the most common snakes he rescues are  cobras, rat snakes and blind snakes.

According to Mohan, there is a possibility of snakes entering areas where they were not previously seen, in pursuit of rodents or other prey as animals are moving freely with reduced human movement. But this, he says, is not a major factor.

Yashas Bharadwaj, a herpetologist based in Bengaluru, says snakes are very territorial. “They usually don’t go out of their set area, nor do they allow other snakes to come in there. But since people are now under lockdown and less busy, this is encouraging the snakes. It’s not common for a snake to enter a new house all of a sudden. But they might get lost while chasing prey.”

He adds, “One more factor can be that, due to lockdown, the number of roadkill has gone down and animals can move more freely. Snakes can move freely as well. Snakes, being cold-blooded, may seek warmth due to the cool weather and come out from their resting places.”

Yashas and his father Simhadri also rescue snakes across Bengaluru on a voluntary basis, like Mohan. They also say that the number of distress calls due to snakes has increased in this lockdown period. “My father has been rescuing snakes for three decades now. In recent years, my father would get three calls a day on average, but now we are getting five-six calls,” he adds.

When dealing with snakes, both Mohan and Yashas urge people not to kill them. According to them, the best course of action would be to call the BBMP (080-22221188)  helpline, so that the snakes can be rescued and released in the wild.

Prasanna Kumar, another snake rescuer, says he gets many calls about snakes being spotted in empty fields or outside their property. “It is common for snakes to be spotted during this time of year, so people should not be worried about it and call us. Snakes are important for the ecology just like other plants and animals. People need not use any chemicals to stay safe from snakes. If they keep their properties devoid of rodents, this will automatically keep snakes away,” he says.

Also read: Living with snakes in Bengaluru: What to do and what not to