Heat-struck reptiles find way into homes in Mumbai

Seek shade & water, are rarely poisonous.

Seek shade & water, are rarely poisonous.

As the mercury soars in the city, Mumbaikars increasingly have to deal with dehydrated animals and reptiles that sneak into their houses seeking shade and water.

One such city-dweller is Airoli resident Tushar Joshi, who on Sunday, stumbled upon a 47-inch Sand Boa snuggling by his water tank. Scared as he was, Mr Joshi immediately called the animal helpline number and the reptile was rescued by Sunish Subramanian Kunju of Plant and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS). Mr Subramanian said that the non-poisonous snake was dehydrated and chose the spot next to the water tank as it was damp and cool. “It was kept under observation for a day and as its health improved, it was let off into the wild on Monday,” said Mr Subramanian.

This is not the first incident of its kind this summer. Over the last weekend, Mr Subramanian has rescued two common sand boas, one common wolf snake, and a monitor lizard — all from residential buildings. Most of these incidents have occurred in suburbs like Airoli, Powai, Mulund and Kanjurmarg. NGOs and veterinary doctors in the city said that with rising temperatures and difficulty in accessing water, it is not unusual for reptiles to get inside human habitat in search of water.

Apart from the initial shock, however, there is little to fear from the visiting reptiles as they are rarely poisonous.

“The snakes and lizards that we have rescued from homes were not poisonous so there was no need to be scared of them. But people must be careful while dealing with them. They must not disturb the reptiles but call up an animal rescue helpline number immediately,” said Mr Subramanian. “Also, after calling for help, people should keep an eye on the reptile to check its movement or as in most cases, when we are called in, the reptile has already moved away from the spot,” he added.

Animals too have been bearing the brunt of extremely hot weather. Animal NGOs said they were receiving several calls from people spotting dehydrated stray animals and birds.

“Nowadays, we receive at least five calls a day to report findings of dehydrated animals in the callers’ locality if not within their houses,” said Shakuntala Majumdar, president of Thane Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

Speaking about helping animals cope with the summer heat, Mr Subramanian said, “We should place bowls of water outside our houses for heat-affected animals. Not only will this help the thirsty animals but also discourage them from getting into houses in search of water.”

Animal helpline numbers: 9833480388; (91)-22-32612344

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