Snakes fascinate all of us, even if this fascination is often terrifying -- for snakes are misunderstood and feared. Even if most Indian snakes are definitely harmless, there are just four species that are responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Ranging, in their lengths, from a few centimeters to almost ten meters, these snakes live in blistering deserts, dank forests, chilly hill ranges, in lakes, in streams, and even in the seas. In the variety of their colours and patterns, they are rivalled only by butterflies, while their grace and fluidity remain unequalled by any other creature that Mother Nature has created. Snake behaviour and adaptations are endlessly exciting.
Unveiled in this Field Guide are 157 of the over 270 species of snakes that are met with in India, with descriptions of each species’ physiology, ecology, behaviour, scalation, natural history, geographical distribution, and look-alikes. Primarily, say the authors, the book seeks "to provide a simple means of identifying snakes encountered in India". The book, thus, carries a bonanza of excellent, lifelike colour photographs. And also additional notes that may help readers identify a snake -- like, for instance: whether it is stout or thin, fast or slow, in water, up in a tree or underground, and whether it is active by day or night. Many of the species covered here are also found in India’s neighbouring countries: Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka -- which makes this Field Guide a helpful reference for the whole of South Asia.
The book is bound to fascinate travellers, naturalists, herpetologists, medical scientists, and anyone else who has an interest in the fantastic biodiversity of India, where snakes are feared, revered and play a vital role in the lives of its people.
Romulus Whitaker has spent the last 50 years, looking for snakes in different parts of India. He has written extensively and produced award-winning documentaries on reptiles. Ashok Captain is an ophidian and photographer.