Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

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.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

The southwestern side of Chardara reservoir is one of few places in Kazakhstan where live the specimen which a snake catcher is interested in.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

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.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Blunt-nosed vipers live on mountain slopes covered with shrubs, in rocky gorges, river valleys and cliffs along the banks of canals.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Sometimes these snakes gather in groups. There were cases when 10 snakes at once were found under a small stone.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

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.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Having found a snake, Alexander cautiously approaches it and slowly turns its head to the side.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Without making any sudden movements, he squeezes its head with a special tool (the so-called “hook”) and gently takes it into a hand.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

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.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Once the snake is safely locked in his hand, Alexander puts it into a simple linen bag.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

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.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Then the bag is tightened. By the way, sometimes to put a small snake into a bag is more difficult than the large one.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

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.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

The threatening pose of the cobra is an inborn element that is passed to it genetically. Even newly hatched snakes lift vertically the front part of the body and widen their neck when they feel in the slightest danger. If the threatening pose is not enough, a cobra can make a false bite – it hits an opponent with its head without opening its mouth and in this way protecting its teeth from damage.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

That’s why in natural conditions it happens very rarely when a cobra bites somebody. In general, most venomous snakes before attacking the enemy (a man or an animal that is not part of its diet) warn them using typical for this specimen methods. It may be either a loud hiss or the twitch of the tail.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

The habitat of Central Asian cobra is similar to the one of a blunt-nosed viper. It can be found in the mountains at an altitude of 1.500 m above sea level. It prefers hilly terrain with plenty of hiding places. The main diet of the cobra is amphibians, reptiles, rodents and small birds.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

The very manner of its biting is rather peculiar. Usually, it seizes its prey and squeezes its jaw several times in order to be sure that its teeth are enough deep for injecting poison.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

The poison of this snake is extremely strong. Besides the paralysis of nerves, it also destroys the blood. It has a neurotoxic effect, causing convulsions and the paralysis of respiratory tracts. However, deaths are recorded quite rarely.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Before the beginning of the work, Alexander takes off light trainers and puts on combat boots. Safety is very important.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

The number of snake catchers reduces day by day as the man who works with poisonous snakes is exposed to mortal danger every day.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

These are perfect places for snakes which hide themselves from unbearable heat in daytime.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

With the help of the hook, an experienced snake catcher can catch almost any snake.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Caught snakes are put into special transport containers and delivered to a serpentarium. During the day Alexander managed to catch two blunt-nosed vipers and one cobra.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Before he puts the snake into a terrarium, he carefully takes the snake out of the bag and presses its head to the floor. Alexander skillfully evades its attacks. One hand holds the body of the snake, and the other fixes its head.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Tools that help you when working with snakes (from left to right):
– a hook
– a tool designed for removing a snake from a tree or a shrub
– a surgical instrument for grasping sterile instruments and dressings. It is used for catching small snakes.
– a fixation plate used in a laboratory

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

When a poisonous snake is delivered to the laboratory, the so-called milking begins. When poison is taken away from the snake, it’s released.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

Poisonous snakes can be easily distinguished among others. Their head is broader than the body.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

The powerful and muscular body of a large specimen is not so easy to hold in your hand.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

The poison of a blunt-nosed venom is very toxic and inevitably leads to death. It is used to produce antitoxic serum and, more importantly, for the manufacture of various medicines.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

In serpentariums poison is collected once every 2-3 weeks. Small snakes give 20-40 mg, the large ones – 50-300 mg per one “milking”.

Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher

In conclusion, here is a piece of advice: when a man is bitten by a snake, he should be brought to the hospital as quickly as possible, even if it seems that the danger is past.

via voxpopuli.kz

10 thoughts on “Poisonous Work of a Snake Catcher”

  1. I am glad they do not have these in US. The poisonous snakes here are harmless. There are some Christian religions here that practice snake handling with local rattle snakes and copper heads. More people die from bee stings.

    Reply
    • Well, the Mojave Rattlesnake and Coral Snakes are pretty dangerous but yes, deaths are extremely rare. Interesting post. Good luck and thanks to good men like alexander.

      Reply
  2. Each year, approximately 8,000 venomous snakebites occur in the United States. Between 1960 and 1990, no more than 12 fatalities from snake venom poisoning were reported annually. Most snakebites occur between April and October, when outdoor activities are popular. In the United States, 99 percent of snakebites are caused by the Crotalidae (pitviper) family of snakes. The Crotalidae family includes the following snakes: rattlesnakes, genera Crotalus and Sistrurus; copperheads, Agkistrodon contortrix; and cottonmouths, or water moccasins, Agkistrodon piscivorous. They have an important job to do, so leave them alone, they like it that way.

    Reply
  3. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0401/p1367.html
    http://www.rexano.org/Documents/venomous_snakes_1367.pdf

    Google the first few words and you’ll find one of the many sites from which he copy and pasted his post. He’s an amazing scholar indeed.

    Reply
  4. Say, I live and work in Kazakhstan. I came across a very impressive snake out west 200 km east of Kulsary (steppe). The snake was about 1 meter in length, blunt nose, slender uniform body with sharpe tail. Color was bright yellow with dark brown small square marks. Puffed up and hissed loudly. I have not been able to identify (not a steppe boa) it, but our local guide said they were very good to eat. That the Chinese love them. Any ideas?

    Reply
  5. very interesting post. Snakes are fascinating in everyway, treat with respect and they will do away, disrespect them at your peril

    Reply

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