The Western Ghats are a hotspot for biodiversity in India, with a large number of endemic snake species. Recently, a new species of cat snake was discovered in the region and named Thackeray’s cat snake, after Tejas Thackeray—who played an important role in its discovery. Maharashtra alone is home to a large population of both venomous and non-venomous snake species, with multiple biodiversity parks for wildlife enthusiasts to spot them. Residents of Shetpal village in the Sholapur district go a step further by actually welcoming snakes in each household and co-existing with the legless beings. Let’s take a look at some of these snakes and where to find them.
The Indian Green pit viper, or Bamboo pit viper, is a venomous species endemic to the southern Western ghats, but also Maharashtra. This haemotoxic species is bright green in colour and can be identified by its triangular head, which is broader than its neck. The snake also has black markings and a yellow belly, there are no subspecies.
The Bamboo pit viper can be spotted at Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Navegaon National Park. These national parks are also home to other vipers like the Russell’s viper and Saw-scaled viper.
Also found in Maharashtra is the Common Indian krait. It’s the most venomous snake in the country and is extremely neurotoxic. Their bite is lethal for humans and can cause muscle paralysis. This species is also one of the deadliest snakes in the world.
Indian kraits can be spotted in Tadoba Andhari, Navegaon and Sanjay Gandhi National Parks along with other venomous snakes like the banded krait, spectacled cobra, slender coral snake and multiple species of sea snakes.
Mildly venomous, the green vine snake is also found in these parts. It is easily identified by its slender green body and arrow-like head. These snakes are ovoviviparous,which means that they have live births, instead of laying eggs like most other snake species.
Maharashtra is home to various species of cat snakes. Sanjay Gandhi National Park alone is home to the common cat snake, Beddome’s cat snake, Foresten’s cat snake and the Ceylon cat snake. They are a part of the family Colubridae and have vertical pupils, like those found in cats. These snakes are rear fanged and can be found in multiple places in Maharashtra like Pune, Sangli, Chandrapur and Mumbai Suburban districts.
The common kukri or banded kukri is also a colubrid found in the region. They are non-venomous and have razor sharp teeth. They are also easy to identify because of their banded markings and arrow-like patterns on their head. Navegaon National Park is also home to the Russell’s kukri snake.
The Indian rat snake is also widely distributed across the region, and the country. They are fast moving colubrids and often end up as prey for the King Cobra, which is found in other parts of the western ghats.
Rock pythons are abundant in Maharashtra, as are various species of keelbacks, the red sand boa, and Russels sand boa, among others.
The list of snakes in Maharashtra is long and winding, making the state a haven for herpetology enthusiasts. From wolf snakes, worm snakes, tree snakes, cobras, to the common trinket, there’s a slithering friend for you no matter your preference.