Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tiny but still powerful & venomous
This is one of the commonest venomous snakes of India known as Saw-scaled Viper or “Furase” in Marathi. It is a small snake, about 1 ft. 6 in. long, though a few specimens grow to 2 ft. or even to 2 ft. 7 in. It is a brown, buff or sandy in colour or may be green. It has got a pale, sinuous, white line along either flank of the back. It may have small, white, diamond-shaped and somewhat square patches along the middle of the back, which may join laterally the wavy white line mentioned above. The head is triangular and has got a distinct white mark on it which somewhat resembles the foot-print of a bird, or may be likened to a broad arrow or a trident. The belly is white and covered with light-brown or dark spots. There is no pit between the nose and the eye which shows that, like Russell's Viper, it belongs to the class of pitless vipers. The broad bellyplates, small scales on the head and tail shields which are entire are characteristic of the Echis.
When disturbed or irritated, it throws itself in a double coil in the manner of figure '8' and rubs the coils together continuously, producing a loud rustling sound like the scrubbing of sandpaper. The scales on the back are distinctly keeled and rough, and it is these which produce the sound. The ridge in the middle of each scale on the back is dented like a saw, and hence it is called the Saw-scaled Viper. Being a small snake, the saw-scaled Viper does not inject much poison. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of its bite cases are fatal. Death may occur within 24 hours or even after 2 to 20 days following the bite. The local signs and symptoms of poisoning such as swelling and discolouration are very marked, the bitten part may slough and the person die of septic poisoning. There is also a tendency to bleed from various parts of the body a few days after the bite, and so a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible after the bite. This snake is considered to be the world's most dangerous snake because of its highly toxic venom, its abundance near cultivated areas, and its aggressive, easily excitable temperament. The venom is used in the preparation of anti-venom. These snakes keep the locust and rodent population in control and also feed on frogs, toads, lizards and other small insects. Female gives birth to 12 - 15 young ones at a time.
Yuwaraj Gurjar.

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