It has been a momentous few weeks at the Friends of Snakes Society (FOSS).
For, a busy season always, the onset of monsoons has not only yielded a surplus of rescues (with as many as 100+ calls on some days!), but reaped a most unexpected visual treat – in the form of a ‘visit’ from a non-indigenous friend.
Nothing unusual marked the day of our friend’s reception – the day dawned, just like its many usual predecessors. Little did we anticipate that all that was to take a pleasant turn soon.
Precisely at 02:00 PM, one of our members who stays at old city got a rescue call from our helpline number (8374233366 as it happens to be!) about a rescue situation at Goshamahal, which is just a stone’s throw away from his place. Equipped with the number of the caller (which was intimated to him through a message from our helpline number), our member was actively communicating with the caller, and reached the location within less than half an hour of the call (No wonder then, that we pride ourselves on giving pizza delivery a run for their money!:)).
Dodging traffic and maneuvering the bike through the narrow gallis of old city wasn’t enough, for the rescue site when arrived at, was an altogether different ball game.
A cricket match, a rift over ‘who will go first in the queue’ while collecting water from the HMWS water supplying trucks, a wedding baarath in the locality, a domestic quarrel in the neighborhood…..our flocking folks seldom need reason to huddle together and express their unsolicited expert opinions – a snake rescue is no exception.
And so it was when our rescuer reached the rescue site – to be greeted with a beehive of excited folks (some with logs in their hands), all actively gesturing towards one of the shops lining the street. The hassled caller finally came forward from amidst the crowd (albeit some trying attempts), and identified himself as the person who was in touch with our member. He further explained that he owned the timber shop in which the snake was spotted just a short while back, upon which the good Samaritan had immediately closed the shop and had since been actively trying to discourage some of the more excited members of the crowd from killing the snake at sight (thus explained the logs).
Equipped with the background and having thanked and appreciated the caller for his worthwhile gesture, our member set out to rescue the animal by unlocking the door – Not an easy task, considering the piles and piles of stacked timber, and the possibility of it being an already stressed venomous snake.
Expecting to encounter a Rat snake or a Spectacled Cobra as is the most commonly found species in those parts, was our member in for one of the pleasantest shocks of his life when he met instead – our most enchanting friend, an Ornate Flying Snake, a non-native of Telangana!
If amazement could help one become rich, we bet our member would’ve been richer by many millions of dollars by now. Alas! Life is unfair like that, and instead, proved an additional challenge – That our fellow be extra cautious and tread gingerly while getting to the slender bodied beauty that lay coiled within the stacks of log.
Ornate flying snakes are native to Western Ghats, Northeast India, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Southeast Asia, and are tree dwellers or arboreal in nature. They are endowed with the ability to flatten their body into unimaginably malleable forms, thus enabling them to glide from one elevated point to another, and earning them the appearance of producing a ‘flying’ motion.
Of a velvety black hue with dark green patterns, they grow up to a maximum length of five and a half feet and feed on geckos, frogs, small birds, and other small tree-dwelling animals.
Needless to say, the arrival of our exotic friend was celebrated in a befitting manner. No red carpets were rolled out yes, instead, a hunt ensued – for the choicest of log pieces and drift wood to create in the exclusively allocated enclosure, a temporary home which sought to imitate to the best possible extent, the natural environ of our guest.
The temperature was constantly monitored with the help of a digital thermometer, and both natural (regular basking in the sun) and artificial means (such a cooler) used to ensure that our friend was subjected to nothing but only the most amiable conditions possible. In line, was the indulgence of a gecko or two, to cater to our ‘out-of-towner’s gastronomic delights.
The arrival of our comrade was soon heralded across the country, in the form of news headlines, social media discussions, and what nots. Umpteen pictures were clicked of our glorious pal, to serve as mementos for a later date when our friend would be relocated back safely.
And so amidst all the pomp and excitement, unaffected, our saintly friend was transported, post several deliberations with the state forest department officials, to its native environ.
To questions on the circumstances that endowed us with its most gracious visit, we can only speculate – the best bet being that our friend might have unwittingly hitch hiked on one of the commute facilities while transporting timber across the state borders.
Still basking in the honor of our most sensational visit, all we at FOSS can hope for is that our friend comes out with ‘flying colors’ in its new found home, and continues to succeed in scaling from one height to another, with its current marvelous ease!:)