The Ruthlessness Behind The Cobra Played By Snake Charmers

Snake charming is an ancient art form that most of us will have seen (or want to see) when travelling to Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia… to mention but a few. Snake charming itself has been around for thousands of years, with one of the earliest records going as far back as the Bible.

The history of snake charming

Snake charming

The art of snake charming is considered to be an ancient technique that is now believed to have risen in India, particularly through healers that would showcase their ability to hypnotise a cobra. The act in itself would involve a healer housing a cobra within a basket and playing a pungi or bansuri with the snake almost transfixed upon the playing instrument. It was historically believed to be a magical or blessed act that many healers would display around their local communities.

How is the snake hypnotised?

Snake swaying to the rhythm

The reality of a snake being hypnotised is a little different from what you’d think or expect.
You may have seen many times that whenever the snake charmer plays the bean (the pipe instrument), snake comes out immediately and starts swaying to the rhythm. Snakes don’t have ears so they cannot catch the tune in the air waves present in the atmosphere. They however have a magnificent way to capture vibrations through a special bone found in their jaw. Snakes can catch a vibration close to 500 meters away depending on the species and this makes them top predators.
Snakes can also see movement through their special eyes. Therefore, when the snake charmer plays the bean around it the snake moves to the movement of the pipe and the vibration that it records on ground. Hence the dance of the snake and the mystery here solved.

How a snake is starved to death through sewing and ripping

Some snake charmers capture wild cobras, ripping out their fangs and sewing the mouths shut

Snake charmers are benefiting from a rise in tourism which in itself would not be bad if there was no cruelty, harm or even captivity involved. The truth is some (not all) snake charmers capture wild cobras, ripping out their fangs and sewing the mouths shut so they can never strike the charmer. These snakes then die a horrible death from starvation, taking many excruciating months. Once the snake dies, the charmer goes out to capture more snakes to use for ‘those photographs’ taken by many-a-tourist.

Now, while I can’t say that snakes are my favourite animal, I detest the thought of cruelty, in any way to any animal or person. The thing is, if we all knew about the awful cycle set in place by some (again, I repeat – not all) snake charmers, it may make us all think twice before rushing to snap that shot and contribute to an ever growing problem in many countries.
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Video resource: AroundMeBD


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