10 Frequently Rescued Snakes by Wildlife SOS

May 21, 2022 | By Malavika Jayachandran
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The Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Units responds to numerous snakes-related calls almost everyday. From the venomous Indian Spectacled Cobra and Common Krait to non-venomous ones like the Red Sand Boa, Indian Rock Python, and Indian Rat Snake; we’ve had a host of reptilian encounters over the years! Let’s get to know some of the more frequently rescued snakes at Wildlife SOS.

1. Indian Spectacled Cobra

The Spectacled Cobra (Naja naja) is highly venomous  and can be easily identified by the spectacle pattern on its hood. This snake species is one of the four most venomous snakes of India. Snake charmers are known to defang these snakes when they are trained to perform for the street audience. Defanging is often done without anesthesia, leading to a high number of deaths of this species.

Spectacled cobras are found throughout the Indian subcontinent. They feed on frogs, rats and other small snakes. The Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Team rescues cobras regularly.  In February 2022, the team rescued a cobra from the storage room of Agra’s Raja Balwant Singh College.

An Indian Spectacled Cobra, which was rescued by Wildlife SOS, is a member of the Big Four.
An Indian Spectacled Cobra, which was rescued by Wildlife SOS, is a member of the Big Four. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/ Mradul Pathak]

2. Indian Rat Snake

The Indian Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosa) is also known as nature’s pest control. This non-venomous member of the colubrid family is about 2.5 metres in size. It feeds mainly on rodents, along with various insects, lizards and eggs. Rat snakes are commonly found within urban cities. These snakes are killed out of fear as they are mistaken to be venomous.

This Indian Rat Snake was among many of the rescued snakes in Delhi during May 2022
This Indian Rat Snake, which was found trapped in a net, was among the various snakes rescued by Wildlife SOS in May 2022 [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Kunal Malhotra]

3. Red Sand Boa

The Red Sand Boa (Eryx johnii) too is a non-venomous snake, usually lethargic and non-aggressive. It is found in India, Pakistan and Iran. The Red Sand Boa has a thick body with a rounded tail that gives it the appearance of being “double-headed”. This snake is reddish-brown in colour, and some may even have black bands across its tail, right at the end. They feed on rodents and small snakes. Much like many other animals, the Red Sand Boa too is a victim of superstitions and is believed to possess magical powers that bring good luck and even cure diseases. These beliefs, and the benign nature of the snake, make this species ideal for trafficking.

Red Sand Boas have an appearance of being two-headed!
Red Sand Boas have an appearance of being two-headed! [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

4. Common Sand Boa

The Common Sand Boa (Eryx conicus) is a non-venomous snake, listed as ‘near-threatened’ in the IUCN assessment of 2019. It is yellowish in colour, has dark zigzag patterns on its dorsal surface, and a white belly. This snake, also known as Russell’s Boa or Rough-scaled Boa, is found in parts of southern Asia. Its average size is about 70-80 centimetres. It is viviparous and gives birth to 5-14 offspring.

Common Sand Boas are one of the frequently rescued snakes at Wildlife SOS.
Common Sand Boas are one of the frequently rescued snakes at Wildlife SOS. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

5. Black-headed Royal Snake

Black-headed Royal snakes (Spalerosophis atriceps) are non-venomous and are found in the drier regions of India. Their dorsal is usually shaded in yellow, orange and red, with a black head. This snake is often used by snake charmers because of its vibrant colours and attractive pattern. Nocturnal in nature, the snake consumes rodents, birds and lizards. It is oviparous and has a clutch size of 3-8 eggs. These snakes can grow up to a length of 200 centimetres.

Black-headed Royal Snakes are quite active and hiss when they feel threatened.
Black-headed Royal Snakes are quite active and hiss when they feel threatened. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Suryoday Singh Mann]

6. Indian Rock Python

The Indian Rock Python (Python molurus) is a large, non-venomous snake that grows over 3 metres in length. It is yellowish in colour, with blotches of brown spots across its dorsal portion. It is nocturnal in nature and feeds on a variety of animals like birds, mammals and reptiles. They are known to first constrict their prey, and then swallow it. After their heavy meal, they do become lethargic and can go without food for a long time. While they are terrestrial, these snakes are excellent climbers and swimmers as well. The Indian Rock python is oviparous, laying up to 100 eggs in one go!

According to the IUCN Red List assessment of 2019, these snakes are listed as ‘near threatened’ owing to habitat loss, killing and illegal wildlife trade.

Among the frequently rescued snakes is the Indian Rock Python, which can often be found laying in one spot after a particularly heavy meal.
Among the frequently rescued snakes is the Indian Rock Python, which can often be found laying in one spot after a heavy meal. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

7. Common Krait 

The Common Krait is highly venomous and is among the four most venomous snakes of India. It is usually about 90 centimetres, has a flat head and a tapered tail. Its glossy body is largely black, mixed with various shades of blue, brown or grey. It also has various white bands running across its dorsal. Common Krait is known to prey on other snakes. It also feeds on rodents, frogs, toads and lizards. It is oviparous, with a clutch size of 6-15 eggs.

The Common Krait often enters fields and rural settlements, and hides under loose soil or around a water source. It is a nocturnal species: Docile in daylight, but extremely alert and defensive at night. Its venom contains potent neurotoxins that cause muscle paralysis. One must never attempt to approach this snake. Sightings of this snake must be reported to the nearest wildlife rescue agency.

The Common Krait is a venomous snake from the "Big Four" of India.
The Common Krait is a highly venomous snake. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS]

8. Common Indian Wolf Snake

The Common Indian Wolf Snake (Lycodon aulicus) is a non-venomous snake found across the Indian subcontinent. This snake is about 50-70cm in length and has glossy brown or black scales, interspersed with white bands. It is often misidentified as being the venomous Common Krait, and is therefore feared. This nocturnal species feeds mainly on geckos, skinks and rodents. The Common Indian Wolf Snake is oviparous and lays up to 7 eggs under rocks or in small crevices. Though it is shy, this snake is highly alert. If threatened, it usually tries to escape but it may also bite multiple times in the act of self-defense.

The Common Indian Wolf Snake is often mistaken for the venomous Krait.
The Common Indian Wolf Snake is often mistaken for the venomous Krait. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

9. Common Cat Snake

Common Cat Snakes (Boiga trigonata) are mildly-venomous; their venom does not pose danger to human beings. This snake feeds mainly on geckos, frogs and birds. It is largely found in the Indian subcontinent. The Cat Snake gets its name after its cat-like eyes that are large and yellow, with vertical slit-shaped pupils. It has a triangular head with a distinct Y-shaped pattern. This snake is small and thin, growing up to about 60 centimetres. It is often mistaken as being the highly venomous saw-scaled viper due to its greyish-brown colour and a resembling zigzag pattern on its head.

The Cat Snake is mildly venomous, though its venom is not dangerous to humans.
The Cat Snake is mildly venomous, though its venom is not dangerous to humans. [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

10. Checkered Keelback

The Checkered Keelback (Fowlea piscator) is a non-venomous snake that grows to about 1.75 metres in length. This snake is liable to bite if disturbed. Usually yellowish-green or brown in colour, it has checkered patterns all over its body. It is an oviparous snake, with fluctuating clutch size. It is mainly found near water bodies and paddy fields. Its diet comprises amphibians, fish, birds and even rodents.

The Checkered Keelback is oviparous.
The Checkered Keelback is oviparous [Photo (C) Wildlife SOS/Suryoday Singh Mann]

Snakes are not inherently aggressive, but one should never approach a snake without proper training! In case you spot a snake inside your house, at a parking lot or at any non-forested area, contact Wildlife SOS 24×7 emergency rescue helplines in the following cities:

Delhi-NCR – +91 9871963535

Agra & Mathura in Uttar Pradesh – +91 9917109666

Vadodara, Gujarat – +91 9825011117

Jammu & Kashmir – +91 7006692300, +91 9419778280

If you encounter a snake in regions not listed above, please contact your nearest wildlife rescue organization at once.

Learn more about reptiles rescued from the practice of snake charming!

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Hotline Number | हॉटलाइन नंबर

Delhi NCT Region +91-9871963535
Agra Region (UP) +91-9917109666
Vadodra Region +91-9825011117
J&K Region +91 7006692300
+91 9419778280

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