Thursday, March 5, 2009

#12. Remebering snakes, scorpions and monitor lizards

Reading about a so-called snake catcher demanding a large sum of money from a Bangalore resident who had to shell it out for him to catch the snake from his house reminds me of an incident year before last at my residence. There was a young servant who one day comes and tells me that at the rear entrance to our house, there is a huge snake. Decades ago when I used to go to my father's village in Latehar dist in Jharkhand during summer vaction when the holidays spilled over to the rainy season, we used to get a number of snakes and scorpions in our tiled house. I remember that even the tribals of those interior areas were not able to catch the snakes and we generally allowed them to go out of our house. I remember one large cobra hissing when he saw people around. Another few fell into the well. In such cases the bucket with the long pole and a stone at the other end (I forget its name now, it was probably called daandi in local language) was kept in the water for an hour or so, and when the snake was in the bucket it was pulled and thrown away from the body. I remeber one such snake turned and tried to attack on the servant, and that man dared not go near it. It could be a krait. Scorpions were mostly killed- the small greyish and the large dark brown ones. Any way this time I took my walking stick, and hoped for the best. I am no snake catcher, and I do'nt know how to deal with an emergency if it comes. When I reached the entrance from the front I saw that it was a biggish monitor lizard..It suddenly charged at me sensing danger. The only thing that came to my mind at that time was to reverse the stick and hoped that I will be able to fend it off like with a hockey stick. Any way seeing the stick in the air, the monitor veered its course and ran to the back garden. I tried to search for it, but I couldn't trace where it went. Later in Daniel's book I read that monitor lizards though not poisonous have curved teeth which gets stuck when they bite you, and is difficult to extricate. I remebered from the story about Shivaji's attack on some fort where the monitors were used to climb the walls of the rampart.


sujata said...

Its nice to know someone who knows the Shivaji story. I remeber visitng zoos (a place i hated as i grew up) and being told that the "Ooda" (kannada?) had been used by Shivaji to attack a nealry unclimbable fort.

s said...

i never knew monitors could harm. wonders how/why they were used for climbing!
(they are called "ghorpads" in Marathi IIRC)

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Anand Kumar Bhatt said...

s_: monitor lizards are not poisonous but their teeth are curved inside so that if they bite, it is difficult to extricate them.
Monitors are like limpets. they can be difficult to remove from the place where they are. Some mechanism by which they probably inflate their stomach to create a vacuum in between (I am guessing).. That is how they were used by Shivaji. One side of rope was bound to the monitor and it was used by the soldiers to climb the wall of the fort.

Martin: what you say is correct but I haven't understood the context.

Anand Kumar Bhatt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anand Kumar Bhatt said...

Thank you, Sujata.

Anand Kumar Bhatt said...

To supplement my earlier comment on monitor lizards, recently somebody was emphatic that it IS poisonous. Daniel in his book has said that they are not.
Daniel has also said the same about Indian ghecko (chhipkili). However, one keeps hearing of stories of chhipkili falling in milk or curd, which brought death to the people who drank it. May somebody enlighten me on this?