Lifescapes Gallery

13 / Jul / 2011
Farmer’s Friend
Rat Snake, Kabini Photograph: Kiran Poonacha Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

Farmer’s Friend

He’s the common Joe of Indian reptilia, and is spotted more often than most snakes, without being as unwelcome a presence. Unless you were a country cousin of Mickey and Minnie’s, in which case, you went around on your furry, furtive way hoping not to meet this mugger up a dark alley. For, the Rat Snake of Kabini more than earns his name. He’s a rodent hunter beyond compare, and hunts them with single minded determination, following them implacably, wherever they go. Which explains why he’s so often found near human habitation: he’s merely following his meal which is, in turn, following its meal! All one needs is a King Cobra on the scene, to complete the picture. The farmer grows the crop, and the rat eats the grain. The Rat Snake eats the rat. The King Cobra eats his preferred meal, which is the Rat Snake. And, Voila! The entire food chain gets played out on a single stage. Considering how he must be feeling about Cobras, it must be extremely galling for our hero to be mistaken for one. With so many being killed in a case of mistaken identity, it’s in his interests to point out that though he’s almost as big as a Cobra, he doesn’t have a hood, and that his ‘hiss’ is worse than his ‘bite’, which is non-poisonous. In fact, he can be excused for feeling peeved with all the myths surrounding him. Case in point being the image above, which is often portrayed as an exotic mating dance, while it’s actually a Combat Dance with another male over territory. Thankfully for the Rat Snake, there is one person who understands his true value in protecting granaries from predation, and helping prevent the spread of disease: the Indian farmer, who counts him as his best friend.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 at 9:47 am and is filed under Kabini, Reptiles . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Tarun Jacob says:

    The myth of this being a mating posture is very true.Thanks for breaking the myth.

  2. Nirmal S Ruparel says:

    Marvelous image rare to find

  3. Tank Amrut says:

    Love to see and read such type of exiciting but lovely pictures. whether or not snakes are harmful, but it is excitiing to watch

  4. Sadashiv Kamath says:

    Truly amazing and rare shot.

  5. sunil says:

    Amazing shot.. i just mistook it for courtship dance..

  6. Vinod Kumar VK says:

    Just confused.. Do those Birds and Snakes give such nice pose.. because they know the Photographer is Mr. Kiran Poonacha.. or it’s because of Kiran Poonacha shot.. those Birds look beautiful.. such a wonderful Photographer Kiran is..
    Wonderful description.. ON THE MYTH ABOUT THIS ACTION BY THE SNAKES..Felt happy to read Indian Farmer counts them as their friend..

  7. rudra sen says:

    very nice picture and article .

  8. Abraham Yogiaveed says:

    Thanks. Highly informative and interesting. Keep up the good work!

  9. Raj Nayak says:

    Beautiful image.Thanks for sending.

  10. Ved Prakash T Nagpal says:

    Amazing photograph.Thank you

  11. Dr. R. Venkataraman says:

    Beautiful photograph indeed. Thanks for sending.

  12. Vikram Nanjappa says:

    The rat snake is a fast terrestrial snake that is active by day. It grows to a length of 2 ½ meters or more and swims and climbs extremely well.They do not constrict , as commonly believed , but subdue large prey by holding it down, pressure is applied until the animal is still. Smaller prey is swallowed alive.• Rat holes and termite mounds are preferred dwellings of the Rat Snake.

  13. Kannan .K.V. says:

    Very nice picture and informative article. Do they very closely resemble Cobras? With King Cobra population on the decline these snakes must be mutiplying fast in numbers.

  14. jayati says:

    Thanks for this very educative article and the beautiful picture accompanying it. We remember our time spent at Coorg with great fondness. Might plan a trip to Kabini too.

  15. CHHEDA"s says:

    Thanks for sending the mail.

  16. Santokh Kalra says:

    Very beautiful picture. Truly Majestic.

  17. Tilak says:


  18. narayanamurthy says:

    Highly thought provoking.
    I am nostalgic about my stay at Orange County in the second week of May 2011.
    My salutations to mother Nature and much more to the administration of Orange County who preserve and conserve it as a mother. Keep sending I love it.

  19. Sandra E. Butti says:

    Thank you very much for sending every month all the wonderful photos of the tremendous beauty of Coorg:
    I appriciate and enjoy them every time very much!

    Warm regards from Switzerland
    Sandra E. Butti

  20. Rohini says:

    Normal reactions to a snake irrespective of its ‘hiss” or “bite” are of fear. The story really brings to light its importance in the food chain, and snake eating snake was a real eye opener. The visual is charming to say the least and while at first glance does look like a mating dance, on closer look you can see the “venom” in their eyes – what is mine stays mine

  21. Harisankar Kurup says:

    A truly wonderful image and a beautiful narrative on this exceptional snake, sadly, much misunderstood and more often than not a hapless victim of mistaken identity.

  22. Tonoy says:

    Super snap !

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