Amphibians & Reptiles
Terai is a home of many cold blooded animals. Marsh Crocodile inhabits rivers and lakes of Terai and feed upon any animals that it can hold on to by strong jaws and also prefers scavenging. They are easily seen during winter while basking in the sun along the river bank. The more endangered Gharial crocodile with a long snout, measuring close to 7 meters is a selective one that prefers the flowing water and fish only. They are the residents of Narayani, Rapti and Karnali River. Frogs are worshipped by many ethnic communities as the crop protectors. Rana tigrina, locally know as Paha frog is a delicacy and a high medicinal value for some community of central midlands. Frog contributes as a controller of insects and prey for many other animals.
Nepal has surprisingly large diversity of poisonous and non poisonous snakes. They are active during summer season. The biggest of the sub-continent include Indian Rock Python that may grow close to 10 meters in length. King Cobra the biggest poisonous snake is rare and found in Chitwan.
The other non poisonous includes the rat, cat, tree, garter, sand boa and worm snakes. Poisonous include the common cobra, Pit vipers, vipers, and craits. Banded crait is supposed to be more venomous but are very docile. Some ethnic communities of the eastern Terai worship them.
A great variety of snakes live in the national parks and the conservation area, but because of the dense cover and their own shyness they are rarely seen. They usually keep out of man’s way: as they pick up vibrations transmitted through the ground, they move off before any approaching human comes into sight.
KING COBRA (Ophiophagus Hannah)
This largest of all the world’s poisonous snakes has been known to reach a length 5 m, although the average is 3-4 m. Young king cobras have yellow-to-white bands on a black skin, but large animals gradually lose the bands and become uniformly dark olivaceous black or brown. King Cobras are not nearly as aggressive as many books make them out to be, but a bite from one may result in death from cardiac failure and respiratory arrest.
This snake is seen more often around the villages than in the park. Usually black to light-yellowish it gives a spectacular warning display by expanding its neck ribs to form a wide hood, with or without marking. This shy snake will usually flee when disturbed, rather than attack. Its venom is neurotoxic, which means that it attacks the nervous system. Most cobra bites are not fatal to man but may cause tissue damage to the bitten park. Defanged cobras are maintained as pets for local entertainment by Indian snake- charmers.
COMMON KRAIT (Bungarus Caeruleus)
Of all the poisonous snakes, in hot Terai mainly in Chitwan, the common krait has the most potent venom. The kraits average 3 feet, and are generally colored black with a shiny, steel-blue tinge interrupted by thin white crossbands which may be broken or indistinct towards the front. They feed on other snakes, including their own kind, and also on rodents. Hiding in burrows and crevices by day, these night-hunters are more numerous outside the park than inside, but it is a lethargic snake and is not common.
INDIAN PYTHON (Python Molorus)
This is by far the largest snake. Although the specimens recorded in Chitwan are smaller, lengths of up to 5.85 m have been recorded elsewhere. In Chitwan a 14-foot specimen was seen and photographed swallowing a whole hog deer, whose body had a diameter of at least a foot and weighed some 60 lb. But another snake, 17 feet long, was found dead, having killed itself trying to swallow an even bigger hog deer. The pythons ability to swallow such enormous lumps of food derives from the structure of its jaw, which are connected to each other by tough, elastic muscles, and can separate widely. Inhabitants of sal and riverine forest, pythons catch prey by striking with their fangs, then squeezing the victim with their coils until it suffocates. Although their colors are bold – black, yellow and white – they blend to give surprisingly good camouflage. Infra-red-sensitive pits on their mouth-margins give them the capacity to hunt in darkness.
This is a arboreal snake, hunts during the day for lizards, tree frogs and small birds and spends a lot of its time on trees often jumping from branch to branch. It has a purplish-brown back and yellow belly. When exited, the bronzeback will expand its neck, revealing a blue color between the scales. Other snakes found include the Indian egg-eater (Elachistodon westormanni), the common smooth water snake (Enhydris enhydris), Siebold’s smooth water snake (Enhydris sieboldi), and the red-necked keel-back (Rhabdophis subminiata).