‘Be on guard, clear vegetation growth around your house’: Experts on threat from snakes

THE DEATH of a 45-year-old woman on Thursday from snake bite has set alarm bells ringing among Sector 42 residents, with experts suggesting abundant caution about the threat of reptiles in the ongoing season.

A 45-year-old woman died after she was bitten by a snake in Sector 42 on Wednesday night. The victim, identified as Harneet Kaur, was rushed to GMSH-16 but the doctors declared her brought dead. A team from the UT forest and wildlife department visited the house of the victim twice since the incident, but have not been able to capture the snake. The incident took place when the victim, who lived in an EWS house in Sector 41, was doing house chores on Wednesday.

Yogesh Kumar Rawal, chairperson of zoology department of Panjab University, said, “It was extremely sad to know that a precious life had been lost. Sighting of snakes is expected to increase in the coming days. The monsoon is retreating and the burrows of these reptiles are waterlogged forcing these creatures to come out. The dark places are their best bets to hide. Reptiles, especially snakes, always prefer to take shelter in dark places. And they only come out when they are in the search of food. Overgrown vegetation, which is quite natural in this season, acts as foliage for their protection. Snakes crawl and can easily access homes by slithering under doors or wide cracks. People should clear unnecessary vegetation growth from around their houses. They should install door flaps to cover the gap between the floor and the door. They should also ensure that all corners of their house are well lit.”

Assistant Professor, Archana Chauhan, also with PU’s zoology department, who conducted a research on snakes, said, “Common Krait, Russell’s Viper, Spectacled Cobra, and Rat Snakes are found in abundant numbers in Chandigarh. Snake bites should not be taken lightly, even if it is by a non-venomous snake. One can easily identify the marks of fangs on the body. As per the description about the Sector 42 incident, it appears like the woman was bitten by a Common Krait, which is a poisonous snake. The victim initially will feel just a little bit of pain after they are bitten. But as the poison spreads in the body, other symptoms show up.”

The few symptoms of the bite include tightening of the facial muscles in 1-2 hours of the bite and inability of the bite victim to see or talk, and if left untreated, the patient may die from respiratory paralysis within 4-5 hours. A clinical toxicology study reports an untreated mortality rate of 70-80%.

The UT wildlife department has received more than a dozen complaints of snake sightings in the city in the last few days. A majority of such complaints are received from areas situated near the forest reserves — southern sectors, northern sectors, PU, ​​Punjab and Haryana High court, Civil Secretariat.

Snake catcher called in

The family of Wednesday’s snake bite victim, Harneet Kaur, on Friday called in snake rescuer Salim Ali for capturing the reptile after the UT forest department failed to do so.

However, even Ali could not trace the snake. A team of UT wildlife department has inspected the house twice in the last 48 hours in its hunt for the snake. Contacted, Ali said, “The size of the house is small and a lot of luggage was stored inside. I have told the family to take out some of the items from the house. I will look for the snale again after that.”

The UT’s wildlife helpline number is 0172-2700217


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