Snake Charming: A Profession Long Lost

I was asked recently to speak on this topic. In a hurry, I scripted this, and to my surprise, my audience applauded. I think you'll li...

I was asked recently to speak on this topic. In a hurry, I scripted this, and to my surprise, my audience applauded. I think you'll like this as well, so I decided to share it with you all. Read on.. 

Many people have a phobia of snakes. But people, like the snake charmers, love to play with these mystical creatures. We see a snake charmer toying with a snake, by attempting to make it sway sidewise, just by playing his instrument. Factually speaking, snake charmers carry out a profession that is deemed illegal, and is prohibited by laws of the land.


In today’s world, it is next to impossible to spot them in urban cities. These snake charmers earn most of their money by performing shows in rural areas. This is because law enforcement and police bodies are less stringent than that in big towns and cities. These people play their musical instrument, to make the ophidian reptile “dance” to their tune.

In reality, snakes are visually blind. What more, they cannot even hear the music being played. These limbless creatures go about hunting in the wild with an aid called “infrared vision”, which means that the snake reads heat radiations from surrounding areas to map its way out.

The Snake charmers exploit this very fact to trick people into believing that their actions are causing the snake to move. They follow the instrument, called “pungi” that the snake charmer. The snake considers the person and pungi a threat and responds to it as if it were a predator.

The way these people handle the snakes while in public is considered to be unsafe by experts. A serpent may have his venom-conducting teeth extracted out, but yet, this treatment does not render them harmless. Poison flows from the wounds left by the extraction of the venom-conducting teeth, and the teeth of the lower jaw are liable to produce lacerations through which the venom may gain the circulation once again.



This profession was a profitable one until the late nineties (90’s) when nature documentary shows depicted the art of snake charming, and it demystified the snake charmer’s acts. Another factor is urbanisation and deforestation, which have made the snakes upon which the charmers rely, increasingly rare. 

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