Snakes and Snakes of Bangladesh

Snakes are an important component of ecosystems because they play major roles as both predators and prey. Maintaining a high level of biodiversity is important to all life on earth, including humans and snakes are an important part of that biodiversity. They are good friends of farmers. Most of the snakes play an important role in the agriculture as biological pest controlling agent as well as in the national economy of a country through eating rats, mice, insects, crabs etc. from nature.

They are also source of medicines against small pox, strokes, fever, syphilis, epilepsy and other ailments. Besides, the skin flesh of snake is an also valuable source of protein for many people of different parts of the world even In Bangladesh.

 

Living snakes are found in all continents except Antarctica and in New Zealand, Ireland and some isolated oceanic islands. Approximately 35,000 species of snakes are found throughout the world, of which about four-fifths are non-venomous. Venomous snakes in the land have been found from sea level up to altitudes higher than 4,000m in the Americas and Himalayas. Sea snakes dive to depths greater than 100m in the oceans. The length of snakes’ ranges from 4 inches to over 30 feet. Most of them are colorful.

 

Snakes of Bangladesh

About 100 species of snakes are known to occur in Bangladesh of which 32 are venomous including 12 species of sea snakes  and 68 non-venomous (source: Ahsan and Saeed). So, most of the snakes are non-venomous like, worm snakes, Pythons, Wolf snakes, Kukris, Keelbacks, Rat snakes, Vine snakes etc. The deadly venomous snakes are Cobras, Kraits and Russell’s viper.

Snake’s population have significantly been declining globally including Bangladesh due to habitat destruction and degradation, environment pollution, random use of pesticides, gill nets for fishing, trade, killing, illegal collection for snake charming and venom extraction and above all climate change. Thousands of snakes are needlessly killed each year because of friar and misunderstanding without knowing their importance. In most of the cases, people believe that all snakes are venomous and a single bite can kill a person.

In Bangladesh, about 10,000 snakes (cobras and rat snakes) are illegally caught by snake catchers annually from nature for only snake charming. Along with other wild animals, snakes are protected under the Wildlife Act,2012 of Bangladesh and cannot be killed or taken from the wild without the prior permission of the respective authority of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Snake is the only animal that could reach the tail end of the rat’s burrow and can swallow as many as six rats at a time. Thus, the snakes act as nature’s agent of biological pest control.

Snakebite is an important emerging public health problem in Bangladesh. Estimated incidence here is about 600,000 per year with more than 6000 deaths due to snakebites. Especially by kraits and Cobras. Snakebite patients have no real treatment other than medical i.e., the injection of antivenom. Some of the patients become cure after the treatment of “Ojhas”. Actually, they do nothing rather than a drama /game. In these cases, snakes did not get the chance to inject venom/sufficient venom (dry bite) or they were non-venomous snakes. So, it is important to educate people, remove unnecessary misleading ideas and myths, and create awareness through practical training on the first aid snakebite treatment and hospitalization to save human life. 

Estimated snakebites in the South-east Region of Asia

Country

Yearly Snakebite

Yearly Death

Bangladesh

6,00,000

6,000

India

14,50,000

50,000

Myanmar

10,000

1,000

Srilanka

7,500

1,200

Nepal

25,000

3,500

Thailand

10,000

<50

Written By

Shafin Rahman



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