Jharsuguda: In a fascinating turn of events, an elusive and rare species of snake, known as the forsten cat snake, has been discovered in the remote Jharsuguda district of Odisha. This particular snake, exclusively found in trees, had previously been recorded in only ten districts across Odisha. However, the absence of any documented sightings in Jharsuguda district piqued the curiosity of locals and herpetologists alike. This captivating story unfolds with Bablu Raut, a courageous fireman and member of the snake helpline, becoming the first to capture and identify this enigmatic snake in the district.
The discovery occurred in the quaint village of Bishipalli, nestled within the Lakhanpur block of Jharsuguda district. Bablu Raut, renowned for his expertise in handling snakes, responded to a distress call from the house of late Dhiru Dixit. Upon arrival, Bablu was astounded to find a magnificent red Fürsten’s dalisnake, measuring an impressive five feet in length, hanging from the fan beam inside the house. Without hesitation, he sprang into action, skillfully rescuing the snake at noon as Dhiru’s family anxiously watched.
Initially, identifying the captured snake proved to be a perplexing task. Bablu, aware of the significance of his discovery, wasted no time. He promptly snapped some photographs of the snake and reached out to Subhendu Mallik, the independent researcher at Snake Helpline, seeking his expert opinion. To Bablu’s delight, Mallik confirmed the snake’s identity as a Forsten cat snake, thereby solidifying the historic significance of the finding in Jharsuguda district. This marked the first recorded sighting of a Forsten cat snake in the region.
The forsten cat snake, as documented in the esteemed “Russian Journal of Herpetology” from August 2009, had been reported in ten districts across Odisha. These districts include Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Angul, Sambalpur, Khurda, Ganjam, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, and Nuapada. With Bablu’s extraordinary discovery, Jharsuguda district now joins the prestigious list of regions where this intriguing snake species resides.
Shbhendu Mallick, the independent researcher at Snake Helpline, shed light on the unique qualities of Fürsten’s viper. While the snake possesses mild venom, it poses no threat to humans. Its venom, specialised for subduing termites and other insects, does not have any dangerous effects on humans. With a nocturnal nature, this species can reach impressive lengths of up to 7.5 feet. Its diet consists of a diverse array of prey, including ants, birds, chickens, bird eggs, nuts, and mice. The rescued snake, enticed by potential food sources, had likely slithered into the house, unaware of the astonishment it would generate.