Thursday, July 21, 2011


It was quite recent that one of my colleagues in a sister hospital informed that he had 11 cobras inside his house and had to kill them. So, I thought that I should put a blog on my experiences with snakes in NJH. I've not seen any cobra, but quite a number of kraits and vipers.

My last encounter with one was couple of weeks back when I went to visit one of my colleague sometime late in the evening. The sight that greeted me as I entered the courtyard was unbelievable. There was a 1 feet long krait sitting directly under the light above the gate and having a feast of insects who were attracted to the light. As I stood watching the spectacle, the fellow noticed my presence. To my surprise, he did not mind me watching him and continued with the feast. However, my paternal instincts convinced that the fellow could be a potential killer and decided to finish him off. So, off came my sandals from my foot and he was dead after 2 sharp blows to his head.

Now, there are few photographs which I took over different times. Hope that I would remember the story behind each one of them.

The first one (on the right) is this 6 feet long viper which one of our nurse-aides killed while returning from the evening ladies fellowship. It was one of the largest vipers that many of us had ever seen, because of which there were quite a number of photo-opportunities for quite a long time. Unfortunately, I was busy with something and managed only couple of snaps.

The second snap is of a pair of kraits (on the left) which we found lodged in one of the crevices behind the doorframe of the ultrasound room. One of the nurses almost got bitten by one of them. It took quite a great deal of patience to coax both of them out of the crevice and kill them. Sorry for the gory picture. We are taught to go for the head. And sometimes I wonder why - especially our chowkidars beat these creatures to such a pulpy mass that identification becomes difficult.

It is not uncommon to hear of snake stories almost every alternate day in the hospital especially immediately after the rains - someone killing a snake somewhere, snake found under the bed, snakes in the toilet, snake coiled around the stove. Then we have the occasional bizzare ones which we hear from patients.

The best one I heard was 2 months back. One of the patients came with cobra bite - not one, but multiple - on the palm of his hand. The story was that the unfortunate victim who was on his way back from work was quite heavily drunk with alcohol and thought that the cobra which was on the road was a good piece of leather which he could use to keep his dhoti in place. Well, you can imagine what would have happened next. He was lucky to have a close friend of his coming just behind him. He was brought quite fast to emergency here. By the time he came, his hand was swollen up like a baseball and we had to go for a fasciotomy to relieve the compartmental syndrome which was setting in. By God's grace, he made a quick recovery.

However, in spite of the umpteen number of snakes we find here - I do not remember of anyone narrating any incident of any staff getting bitten by a snake. Even, yours truly had 3 very close encounters with snakes - kraits being the culprits all the time - the last one where I had stepped on a coiled fellow with my bare feet. How true is the promise we have in Christ where Jesus promises us, his disciples, about the protection we will have from snakes and scorpions (Luke 11: 19).


  1. Enjoyable, though a bit gory!! Thank God for His protection for all of you. May it continue always.

  2. Russell's Vipers and Cobras are reserved species according to the Wild Life protection Law of 1972.