There is no need to say what snakes are like. In India, they are so common, that we know them only too well. But there are many different kinds, and something may be said about the most noted.
One kind includes the Boas and Pythons. These are very large snakes, sometimes thirty feet long and as thick as a man’s thigh. They are not poisonous, but they have very great strength and kill their victims by winding themselves round them and crushing them to death. The biggest are found in African forests.
There are some snakes that are quite harmless, like the Indian Rock-snake, and all the English snakes except the Viper. But the worst of it is, there is no way of knowing whether a snake is poisonous or not unless you are a learned man and know all the different kinds by sight.
Many snakes are very poisonous. In India, we have the Cobra, the King-Cobra, Russell’s Viper, the Krait, and many more. The bite of these snakes generally causes death, and thousands of people are killed every year in India by snake bite.
Ignorant people sometimes talk of snakes stinging. But this is a mistake. Scorpions sting, but snakes bite. The poisonous kinds have two hollow or grooved teeth, which is called “fangs”, and it is these teeth that do the poisoning. A snake’s poison fang rests upon a little bag full of poison. When the snake bites and pierces the flesh with its fangs, the fang is pressed back into this bag, and the liquid poison is forced up the hole or groove in the tooth into the wound. So the poison gets right into the blood and quickly does its dreadful work.
In some religions, the snake is a sign of evil and sin. In the Biblical story of the Creation of the World, it was the snake that tempted Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, to eat the forbidden fruit. And in the Bible also the Devil is often called the great Serpent, or snake. Yet in some parts of India, the Cobra is worshipped as a god.