Snakes greet Keralites returning to flooded homes

A woman cleans the mud from the entrance of her house following floods in Paravur in Kerala. Reuters

People marooned by the fierce monsoon rains in Kerala have been returning home to the frightening sights of deadly cobras and venomous Russell vipers slithering around in their bathrooms, and coiling in cupboards and washbasins.

Incidents of snake bites have been reported from various parts of the state in the last five days, prompting authorities to seek the assistance of wildlife conservationist and snake expert Vava Suresh.

Authorities of a private hospital at nearby Angamaly said doctors had attended to 53 cases of snake bites from August 15 to August 20.

A doctor at the Angamaly Little Flower Hospital said cobras, the Indian krait and Russell's viper have found their way into abandoned, marooned houses from the forests, along with the floodwaters.

"These reptiles have entered flooded homes and other structures. So those who step into their houses for cleaning after receding of floodwaters should be very careful," the doctor said.

The public relations wing of the state government has launched a social media campaign against the snake menace.

In one such campaign, Suresh, who has captured more than 140 king cobras over the years, has been roped in and he has advised people not to panic on seeing the reptiles.

"The snakes could be hiding in cupboards, under carpets, in clothes, near doors, in wash basins, closets, shoes and electronic items like washing machines and refrigerators.

"One should not touch the household appliances with bare hands. Instead they hold a stick to shift through their belongings," he said.

One more tip he offered to people was to wipe floors and articles in the house using water mixed with kerosene or diesel after cleaning, as this is believed to keep the snakes away.

Suresh, who has been bitten several times by venomous snakes, also advised people to properly check their cars and two-wheelers parked in porches as the reptiles might be in them too.

The heavy rains and floods over the past fortnight in Kerala have left 223 dead and forced over 10 lakh people out of their homes. PTI TGB NVG APR DIP DIP

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