[ The section on Snakes is contributed by Dr. P. J. Deoras, Bombay.]
The following snakes found in the district have been classified in two groups viz., non-poisonous and poisonous:-
Typhlops sp.-These are found in loose soil having decaying
material. They are brownish and glossy in texture and are generally
mistaken for earthworms. They grow to about one foot in length
while the scales are imbicate. Local people call them Kadu. They,
Python molurus.-Pythons are reported from the rocky places in river beds. Sometimes they come near human habitations. They are large, growing to 15 feet and are powerful constrictors. The colour is brown and the body has a mottled design. Young ones of pythons are sometimes mistaken for vipers which are poisonous. Pythons are locally known as Ajgar.
Eryx conicus.-Locally called as Mali Khavre is a short snake with a very short and blunt tail, and as such is sometimes called a double-headed snake. The body is blackish red with mottled yellow spots. It prefers to live buried in soil and feeds on frogs, insects and small mammals.
Ptyas mucosus.-It is a long snake reaching a length of from six to eight feet. This is common in fields and is locally called Dhaman. The colour is yellowish with black spots particularly in hind region.
Lycodon aulicus.- This is a slender snake with a greyish brown colour and white cross-bars. It is common in bushes and gardens, and attains a length of 1½ feet. Oligodon and these snakes are often mistaken to be the young of a Krait.
Sibynophis sagittarius.- This snake is found rarely. It is brownish in colour with black dots on the back and greyish brown on sides. The head is more dark with a yellow patch on both the sides. The border of the mouth is yellow, spotted with black. It measures from two to three feet in length. The tail is much longer as compared to the body.
Oligodon arnensis.- This is a slender snake reaching to 1.5 in length. Colour is pale brown with deep brown cross-bars. Near the neck there is a broad, characteristic reddish black band. It is locally called as Gawatya Sap. It lives in gardens and is sometimes mistaken to be a Krait.
Ahætulla ahætulla.-It is a long greenish yellow slender snake with a middle scale row modified and hexagonal. On the belly are small
black spots. Tail is slender, long and pointed. It grows to 1½ feet. It is harmless.
Boiga trigonata.-It is a slender long snake with a flat head. It is yellowish or greyish brown with "V" shaped deep brown bands and stripes on the body. It grows to 2½ feet and is known to be very vicious.
Natrix piscator.-It is a common snake found in ponds, ditches and water accumulations. It is locally called as Pandivad. It grows to four feet and is olive-coloured with checkered black spots all over the body particularly in the hind region. This is very vicious and strikes when provoked. It forms a part of many snake charmers' kit.
Dryophis nasutus.-This parrot green snake is generally found in rainy season. Locally called as Sarptol, it reaches upto four to five feet in length. The pointed head is held aloft when the snake peeps out of green foliage. It strikes and is known to kill sparrows.
Bungarus caeruleus.-This poisonous snake is not very common. It is steel blue with white cross-bars on the body and a dorsal row of hexagonal scales. Locally known as Kavdya, this snake is seen in crevices and is very poisonous. It grows up to 2½ feet.
Naja naja.-Cobras are of black and brownish yellow colour in this region. They reach up to five feet in length, and very rarely up to six feet. They have a beautiful spectacle mark on the head. Black ones have generally no mark. This snake is worshipped in the region and is also dreaded for its poison. These are commonly found in the district and cause a number of deaths.
Russell's viper.-This snake is not found in abundance like cobras. Colour is slight brown with three rows of distinct black circles on the back and oval spots on sides. It is generally found in wooded fields. Locally called as Kabrya Chitra, it hisses loudly and the poison causes a lot of pain and oozing.
Echis carinatus.-Locally called as Landi, this saw-scaled viper is a different variety from that found in Konkan. The colour of the snake is sandy, pale brown, and is also thicker than the Ratnagiri variety. This snake is seen frequently during rainy season and because of its colour is difficult to make out. It strikes without provocation and makes a noise by rubbing the body scales. The bite is painful and though may not result in immediate death the secondary complications are often very painful and sometimes fatal. It measures about 20 inches in length.
Trimeresurus malabaricus.-This green tree viper is found in dense woody places. Locally called as Udat Wel, it reaches from one and half to two feet in length. The head is triangular and has small scales on it.