The snakelets will be later released with their mother into the forest.
Mumbai: A Russell’s Viper (Daboia), widely known for its haemotoxic venomous quality, has given birth to 36 snakelets at the state-run Haffkine Institute for Training, Research and Testing in Parel. The viper was kept under observation for the last two months. Senior doctors from the institute said that the snakelets will be kept at the institute till they are fit for release into the forest along with the mother.
A herpetologist from the institute said that Russell’s vipers do not lay eggs like other snakes. The mother viper gives birth to live young ones. The baby snakes moult as soon as they are born and are highly venomous, immediately after birth. They are independent since day one. As Russell’s vipers do not lay eggs, chances of their young ones surviving are much higher.
The herpetologist said, “At birth, juveniles are 215 to 260 mm (8.5 to 10.2 inches) in length and the average venom yield of the juvenile is between 8 to 79 mg (mean 45 mg). Moreover, venom yield for adult specimens ranges from 130-250 mg to 150–250 mg to 21–268 mg.”
This is not the first instance of snake reproduction at the institute. In May, a cobra caught from Palghar laid 21 eggs.
Dr Nishigandha Naik, director of Haffkine Institute, said that almost two months ago, they rescued two female Russell’s Vipers – one from Baramati which is a rare albino variety (white coloured snake) and the other from Turbhe. “We had rescued the Russell’s Vipers for preparing anti-venom for research and medicinal purposes. But as the one rescued from Baramati was pregnant, we kept her in an incubated box and she gave birth to 36 babies in the serpentarium of our institute.”
The snakelets will be later released along with their mother into the forest.