Contents: Preface. 1. Introduction. 2. Structure, classification and phylogeny of Indian snakes. 3. Checklist of Indian snakes. 4. Systematic accounts of Indian Snakes. 5. Current conservation status of Indian snake species. 6. Studies on habits, habitats, defence, mimicry and distribution of Indian snakes. 7. Snakes and man. 8. Ecological role of snakes. 9. Snakes and human culture. 10. Poisonous and non poisonous snakes. 11. Collection and preservation of snakes. 12. Conservation strategies for snakes. 13. Snake Venom. 14. Management of snake bites. 15. Management of snake bites in deserts. 16. Economic importance, threats and protection of snakes. 17. Snakes and their importance. 18. Snakes in Indian culture.
Snakes have been associated with myths and curiosity, apart from being an object of fear due to the possession of incomplete and/or inappropriate knowledge. The probable reason for this may be the cold appearance due to the possession of eyes without lids, limbs and earless form, serpentine movements and fluidly cold feel. Moreover the bites of some, but not all of them, are venomous with lethal impacts. This has resulted in the development of an unwarranted fear amongst most people. We are totally ignoring the basic fact that snakes form a part of an essential food web of nature. Breaking of the web can have direct and/or indirect impacts on the survival of the human species.
Any information on snakes, whether it is based on myths and/or scientic knowledge, is subject of curiosity and of great interest to the reader from any eld. There have been writings on snakes even in ancient global literature, especially Indian literature. First author M.S. Pradhan got the inspiration from the writings of Gharpurey, Deoras, Daniel, Whitaker and Captain. Moreover while in service, his interest in snake species grew with the training programme on snake studies which he undertook at the Zoological Survey of India, DRC, Jodhpur. He was also involved in identication and advisory services on snake species identication for more than twenty years during this service. The services were extended to various authorities ranging from individuals to different law enforcing agencies. He has learnt through experience that even today mis-beliefs about snakes are strong in the masses. Hence the authors have decided to make a fresh attempt and try to compile the available information to them in one place in order to help removing these mis-beliefs.
The present compilation includes a current checklist of 291 Indian snake species, systematic account and conservation status of Indian snake species, in addition to the information on morphology, behaviour, use and misuse of snakes species. It also highlights accounts of mis-beliefs, blind faiths, myths and mythology about snake species. The account on latter aspects included here is mostly based on the earlier work published by different researchers. The work has been individually acknowledged at relevant places.