National Wildlife Week 2023 - Quiz Series - Snakes and snakebites

Snakes and Snakebites in India

Welcome to a quiz dedicated to the fascinating world of snakes and the intricate dynamics of snakebites in India. From the venomous spectacles like the King Cobra and Saw-scaled viper to understanding the medical and sociological implications of snakebites, this quiz will provide a comprehensive view of India's relationship with these remarkable reptiles.

Total Questions: 40 multiple choice questions (MCQ) designed to offer insights into the variety of snake species native to India, their habitats, behavior, and the challenges and solutions related to snakebites.

Time Allotted: 15 minutes. Embark on this serpentine journey, but remember to keep an eye on the clock!

Before beginning this enlightening exploration, we kindly request you to furnish the following details on the subsequent page:

  • Your name
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Once the quiz series is completed, participants will be provided with a detailed analysis of the questions, along with their correct answers. Additionally, those who display exceptional knowledge will be honored with a certificate of excellence. Dive in, and unravel the mysteries of snakes and snakebites in India!

The number of attempts remaining is 5

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1. Which snake is often mistaken for the venomous Common Krait but is harmless?

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2. The snake that's known to be the world's longest is the:

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3. The SARPA app is a mobile app developed by the Kerala forest department to:

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4. Which of the following is a common belief but is scientifically untrue?

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5. Why is snake conservation important in ecosystems?

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6. Which is the only state in India having a snake rescue guidelines and licensing system for Snake rescuers

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7. Which snake possesses the longest fangs of any snake species?

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8. Which of the following should NOT be done after a snakebite?

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9. When should antivenom be administered to a snakebite victim?

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10. The primary purpose of snake venom is to:

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11. Why is it essential to keep a snakebite victim calm?

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12. Which symptom indicates a neurotoxic snakebite?

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13. Which of the following snakes is non-venomous?

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14. Snakes are:

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15. In the context of snakebites, what does "polyvalent" antivenom mean?

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16. Which of the following snakes is NOT native to India?

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17. What does a "dry bite" mean in the context of snakebites?

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18. How do snakes breathe?

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19. For which of the following snake bites is the use of a tourniquet recommended?

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20. What is the primary treatment for a venomous snakebite?

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21. The antivenom is produced using:

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22. What role does traditional medicine play in the treatment of snakebites in India?

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23. What is the purpose of the 20-minute Whole Blood Clotting Test (20WBCT) in snakebite management?

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24. The Red Sand Boa is often killed in India due to superstitions related to:

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25. Which of the following snakes is considered the world's most venomous?

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26. The process by which snakes shed their skin is known as:

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27. In addition to antivenom, what other treatment might be required for a hemotoxic snakebite?

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28. What do snakes mainly feed on?

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29. What is a significant threat to the Indian Rock Python's population?

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30. What do snakes primarily use their tongues for?

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31. The largest venomous snake in India is:

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32. Which snake, native to India, has a diet primarily consisting of other snakes?

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33. How do pit vipers detect their prey?

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34. The "Big Four" venomous snakes responsible for most snakebite deaths in India include all of the following EXCEPT:

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35. Snakes belong to the animal class:

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36. What color is the venom of the Russell's Viper?

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37. How do snakes hear?

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38. In India, the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 offers protection to:

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39. Intense fear of snakes is called?

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40. Which snake's venom primarily affects the nervous system and may not result in immediate pain at the bite site?

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The Serpentine Landscape of India

Snakes have been an integral part of Indian culture, folklore, and ecosystem for centuries. Revered in mythology and often misunderstood in reality, these creatures create a world of mystery and surprise. Beyond the myths and fears, snakes play a crucial ecological role, maintaining the delicate balance of our environment. India, with its diverse habitats ranging from the arid deserts of Rajasthan to the dense forests of the Western Ghats, serves as home to a myriad of snake species, each with its unique characteristics and significance. This article delves deep into the world of snakes in India, shedding light on their variety, their role in the ecosystem, and the challenges posed by snakebites.

Variety of Snakes in India

India boasts a rich snake biodiversity, housing around 300 snake species spread across different habitats. These species can be categorized into various families. The Elapidae family includes venomous snakes like the Indian Cobra and King Cobra. The Viperidae family has venomous species like the Saw-scaled Viper, Russell’s Viper, and Pit Vipers with their characteristic heat-sensitive pits. The Boidae family comprises non-venomous constrictors like the Indian Rock Python and the Red Sand Boa. The Uropeltidae family includes the unique shield tail snakes, which are burrowing snakes identifiable by their shield-like tail tip. Colubridae, the largest snake family, is found abundantly in India, with species ranging from the harmless Rat Snake to the venomous but less aggressive species like the Cat Snake. Then, there are the Typhlopidae, small and blind burrowing snakes, commonly referred to as blind snakes. Each family and its members play specific roles in maintaining ecological balance, showcasing the rich diversity and ecological importance of snakes in India.

Understanding Snake Venom

Snake venom is more than just a deadly substance; it’s a complex mixture that serves various purposes for the snake. Primarily, it’s a vital hunting tool. When a snake bites its prey, the venom works quickly to immobilize or kill it, ensuring that the prey doesn’t escape or pose a threat. Once the prey is subdued, the venom continues to work by starting the digestion process even before the snake swallows its meal.

But not all venoms are the same. In India, where a diverse range of snakes exists, the venom’s effects can differ widely. The Common Krait, for example, produces a neurotoxic venom. This venom affects the nervous system, leading to symptoms like difficulty in breathing or paralysis. On the other hand, the Russell’s Viper has hemotoxic venom, which targets the blood. A bite from this snake can lead to uncontrolled bleeding, clotting issues, or even organ failure.

This diversity in venom composition is a testament to the adaptability of snakes, evolving over millennia to perfect their hunting techniques and to defend themselves against threats. Yet, while venom is a crucial survival tool for snakes, it’s also the reason why snakebites can be so hazardous for humans, underscoring the importance of understanding and respecting these remarkable reptiles.

Dealing with Snakebites

In India, snakebites are common because there are many snakes around. Sometimes, a snake might bite but not put any venom in the person. This is called a “dry bite.” But other times, the snake puts venom in, and that can be dangerous. Traditionally, some people might have used herbs or other local remedies to treat snakebites, but these methods are not scientifically proven to be effective. It’s very important to remember that the best way to treat a snakebite is to see a doctor as soon as possible. If someone gets bitten by a snake and feels bad or sick, they should stay as still and quiet as they can, and someone else should help them get to the doctor. Doing things like tying a tight knot on the bitten area or trying to get the venom out, like in some movies, is not a good idea.

Snakes and People

In India, snakes have always been a part of folklore, mythology, and daily life. Despite their frequent appearances in stories and legends, many people are still scared of them in reality. This fear often stems from misconceptions and lack of knowledge about these creatures. Most snakes are shy and prefer to stay away from humans. They don’t usually chase or attack unless they feel cornered or threatened. By understanding their behavior and habits, people can coexist peacefully with snakes and avoid unnecessary confrontations. Modern technology is also playing a part in educating people and ensuring safety. For instance, the SARPA app in Kerala is a great tool that helps individuals identify local snake species, learn about them, and even get assistance if they encounter one. Such initiatives bridge the gap between humans and snakes, fostering a harmonious relationship.

Protecting Snakes

Snakes play a vital role in the ecosystem. They are nature’s pest controllers, feeding on rodents, insects, and other small animals. By doing so, they help keep the population of these pests in check, ensuring a balanced environment. However, with the rapid expansion of urban areas and the increase in agricultural activities, many snakes, including species like the Indian Rock Python, are finding it harder to survive. Their natural habitats are shrinking, forcing them into closer contact with humans, leading to more conflicts.

Recognizing the importance of these creatures and the challenges they face, India has taken steps to ensure their protection. The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 is one of the primary laws in place that offers protection to snakes, prohibiting their hunting and ensuring the conservation of their habitats. Conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts also run awareness campaigns to educate people about the significance of snakes and the need to coexist peacefully with them. By understanding, respecting, and protecting these creatures, we not only save them but also help maintain the health and balance of our environment.