Kendrapara (Odisha): Venomous snakes,including King Cobras and pythons, have begun laying eggs along the marshy wetland mangrove cover in the Bhitarkanika National Park in this district, marking the commencement of nesting season of these reptiles. Mangrove forest area is an ideal habitat for lizards. Snakes prefer dense forest and mud-walled houses in the forest and its nearby areas to lay eggs, said Forest Range Officer, Akshyaya Kumar Nayak. “It is not possible for the forest officials to count the nests of all snakes. Bhitarkanika is the home of around 3000 King cobras and all female cobras laid eggs in their nests,” he said, adding nests of around 20 King cobras and 10 pythons had already been spotted in the forest. Around 300 pythons have laid eggs in the forest recently.
During the hatching period, the mother python does not take food and keeps on guarding, said the forest official. King Cobras have also laid eggs in the Park. A female cobra usually lays anything between 40 to 50 eggs and remains with her eggs till the entire period of incubation which is roughly about 60 to 85 days. While the female cobra is so protective of her eggs, she leaves the nests just before the eggs hatch leaving the young hatchlings to fend for themselves, he said. “Many snakes laid eggs in the nearby villages for which we have convinced the villagers not to kill any snakes or destroy their eggs. After two months, hatchlings would emerge from the eggs. Each year feral dogs, wild boars, jackals and fishing cats devour large numbers of eggs of the snakes. Snakes guard the eggs near the nests for which the reptiles bite any person or animal who disturb snakes during breeding times,” said Nayak.
The forest officials banned entry of anybody into the forest from May 1 to July 31 during the mating and breeding of snakes and crocodiles in the forest, he said. “The forest department is organising awareness camps among the villagers within the park and its nearby areas for protection of wildlife. Last year during nesting season, we rescued 16 pythons with eggs in the cowsheds and houses of many villagers,” he said. Snakes of Bhitarakanika area include the deadly King Cobra, Banded Krait, Common Krait Bamboo snake and Blue Krait. Among the non-poisonous are the Indian Rock python, Rat snake, Water snake, Worm snake, Blind snake, Red Sand Boa, Black Earth Boa, Green whip snake, Vine snake, Painted Bronzeback, Indian Bronze-back and Tree snake, he said. PTI
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