In countries like India, Snakes are worshipped as Gods. The benefits of snakes to the environment have been understood by many countries. For example, in nations where grains are harvested, certain snakes such as rat snake are released in the farms to control rodents and rats which cause destruction. It must also be noted that not all snakes eat only rats but some also eat birds, snails, eggs, frogs, toads, lizards and one of the main enemy of the farmer – the grasshopper. According to surveys conducted by biologists, a healthy number of snakes in an environment are important for a balanced eco-system. For example, a toad or frog will eat an insect capable of causing destruction to grain, the frog will be eaten by a rat snake, and the rat snake in turn by a cobra.
Although snakes are often seen as dangerous, and are very likely to be killed when seen, they control the population of rodents and rats. They also control the diseases spread from the bodies of rats and rodents. The diseases are spread through wounds from the bite of rodents, contamination of drinking water from feces and urine of mice, transmission of ticks, mites and fleas to cattle from rodents.
The venom from poisonous snakes are useful in the treatment of many diseases such as cancer, Parkinsons, breast cancer etc. Recently, pain relief cream prepared from snake venom is being tested for arthritic pain. The venom is also used to prepare anti-venom medicines against poisonous bite of vipers and other deadly snakes. The study or experiments of snake venom has not reached its full potential and physicians are fully confident of treating many more complicated diseases.
Snakes can also link us with humanitarian aspects, their need of survival – killing to eat only when necessary and defending themselves at the last instance. But man has tried to restructure nature and not by being a part of nature.
Popularly called ectotherms, they cannot survive everywhere by regulating their body temperature. They can easily move in holes where mice, rodents and rats live than other creatures for prey.
Another advantage of snakes is that they very rarely suffer from nutrition deficiency since they always consume their prey (all of them are carnivores, even the small snakes eat large insects), fully with all the bones inside. An anaconda can swallow a whole deer and it feeds only four times a year. In recent times, snakes are being taken as pets.
Sathya Narayana has studied Post Graduation in Applied Geology and is interested in writing about health issues and effects of globalisation.
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