Snake species on our campus

Rat snake & Common or Indian cobra

Important: Keep in mind that there is considerable colour and pattern variation and it takes a trained eye to identify snakes correctly. We do not recommend that you attempt to handle snakes based on the identification information provided here. This information is provided to prevent unnecessary panic and killing of snakes on campus.

Rat snakes (Ptyas mucosa ) and Cobras (Naja naja): a commonly confused pair

Most large brown snakes are considered to be Cobras, leading to unnecessary panic. However Rat snakes which are NON-VENOMOUS are easily distinguished from Cobras by vertical black lines on the lips below the eyes and irregular black bands on the body which are absent in the Indian Cobras.

The colour of Rat snakes is fairly variable with a greyish light brown to dark brown upperside and a creamish to bright yellow underside. But unlike cobras they tend to grow very long. Most brown snakes on campus that exceed 5 ft are likely to be Rat snakes. Also they are the most common snakes on campus according to the records of snakes we have caught. We have caught only a  few Cobras on campus in nearly 2 years.

Another clear mark of distinction is the Cobra's hood with the spectacle mark, that is absent in Rat snakes. Cobras are likely to spread their hood and hiss loudly when agitated. However a Rat snake, when agitated, will also inflate its neck to make its head look bigger, and this can confuse an inexperienced observer.