Snakes in the City

 

Grass Snake (macropisthodon plumbicolor) The adult grass snake is green in colour, while the younger ones have yellow and black lines, just like this one. This snake was rescued from Malad, a Mumbai suburb, when it accidentally entered a house. Photograph/Kedar Bhide

Grass Snake (macropisthodon plumbicolor) The adult grass snake is green in colour, while the younger ones have yellow and black lines, just like this one. This snake was rescued from Malad, a Mumbai suburb, when it accidentally entered a house. Photograph/Kedar Bhide

Kedar Bhide rescued some snakes in Mumbai’s urban jungle and revealed a surprisingly beautiful side to them through his photographs

"I have always found snakes to be beautiful creatures."—Kedar Bhide

“Snakes are re apex predators  and feed on many other small animalsI have always found snakes to be beautiful creatures.”— Kedar Bhide

Fear, fascination, superstition and repulsion are commonly associated with snakes. But not many realise how important they are to the ecosystem. They are apex predators in their environment and feed on many other small animals, thereby maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Snakes are cold-blooded (ecothermic) animals that depend on external factors to control their body temperature.

Contrary to common perception, cities like Mumbai make an ideal home for them as there is ample food and space for these creatures. I have always found snakes to be beautiful creatures. While working towards their conservation, I also began to photograph them.

My objective towards photographing these snakes was to show their beauty as well as identify them in terms of their distinct physical features.

Today, Mumbai houses 34 species of snakes. Luckily for me, I have photographed most of them and remember each occasion well. Through these images, I wish to make everyone understand their importance and dispel the several myths associated with this wonderful species.

Saw Scaled Viper (echis carinatus) These small vipers can be found mostly in rocky areas. They are very aggressive and are difficult to handle. This was shot while on a trek to the Sahyadris, near Mumbai. Photograph/Kedar Bhide

Saw Scaled Viper (echis carinatus) These small vipers can be found mostly in rocky areas. They are very aggressive and are difficult to handle. This was shot while on a trek to the Sahyadris, near Mumbai. Photograph/Kedar Bhide

Tips to Remember When Photographing Snakes

  • Make sure you get an expert’s help especially when photographing venomous snakes.
  • Always be on your guard. Since snakes are coldblooded animals, sudden changes in temperature can stress them out and make them aggressive.
  • Do not shoot them after they have eaten, because when they fear danger they regurgitate their food.
  • Be well-informed about the different snake species and their behavioural patterns. Knowing how to administer first aid will be of great help too.
  • Choose your equipment wisely. Long macro lenses like 180mm or medium-sized zooms like 70–200mm can help you photograph snakes without getting too close to them.

Finding Snakes

  • Get in touch with snake rescuers and find out when they are going to release the snakes that they have rescued.
  • When identifying snakes, get an expert to help you out. You can also develop your knowledge through books like ‘Field Guide of Snakes of India’ by Romulus Whitaker and Ashok Captain.
  • If you see snakes in a field, follow them for a while before you shoot them.

Vine Snake (ahatulla nasuta) Most of the time when in the wild, you can get a head shot of a vine snake if you wait for a good opportunity. This snake was captured while on a trek to Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali. Photograph/Kedar Bhide

Vine Snake (ahatulla nasuta) Most of the time when in the wild, you can get a head shot of a vine snake if you wait for a good opportunity. This snake was captured while on a trek to Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali. Photograph/Kedar Bhide

About Kedar Bhide
Kedar is a snake rescuer, wildlife photographer and has been into nature conservation since more than 12 years. He shoots nature and wildlife mainly for research and educational purposes.

Tags: August 2009, better photography, Field Guide of Snakes of India, Grass Snake, Kedar Bhide, Macro Lenses, Mumbai, Nature Photography, Photo feature, Saw Scaled Viper, snakes, Vine Snake, Wildlife