There is no such university in the whole world that can teach you the profession of a snake catcher. People learn it themselves, adopting the experience of others and gaining their own in practice. A snake catcher must understand the psychology of snakes, know all their habits, natural features, habitats. Let’s have a walk with one of such professionals from southern Kazakhstan.
The southwestern side of Chardara reservoir is one of few places in Kazakhstan where live the specimen which a snake catcher is interested in.
Meet Alexander, a serpentologist and a snake catcher with 15-year experience. He’s interested in blunt-nosed vipers and Central Asian cobras. Officially, these two specimen of venomous snakes are not put into the register of the reptilian fauna of Kazakhstan. This list is no longer topical as it was created in the far 70s.
Blunt-nosed vipers live on mountain slopes covered with shrubs, in rocky gorges, river valleys and cliffs along the banks of canals.
Sometimes these snakes gather in groups. There were cases when 10 snakes at once were found under a small stone.
This is a blunt-nosed viper, the largest member of the viper family in Kazakhstan’s fauna. It can reach almost 2 m in length and weigh up to 3 kg. An adult individual feeds on small animals such as field mice and lizards.
Having found a snake, Alexander cautiously approaches it and slowly turns its head to the side.
Without making any sudden movements, he squeezes its head with a special tool (the so-called “hook”) and gently takes it into a hand.
Since this is one of the most dangerous snakes in Kazakhstan, Alexander has to be extremely careful. In case of emergency, these snakes throw themselves at the enemy.
Once the snake is safely locked in his hand, Alexander puts it into a simple linen bag.
It requires some skill and the sequence of actions. One hand holds the snake and the other opens the bag. When the head of the snake comes abreast the edge of the bag, the animal is quickly thrown to the bottom.
Then the bag is tightened. By the way, sometimes to put a small snake into a bag is more difficult than the large one.
A couple of hours later, the snake catcher finds the queen of snakes – a cobra. To be more precise, the Central Asian cobra. This is a rather large snake with an average length of 1.6 – 1.8 meters. Of the 10 species of cobras, the Central Asian cobra is the only one that can be found on the territory of the CIS.