Thirty minutes up the road to Chennai at Vadanemmeli is the Madras Crocodile Bank. It’s just a 15 INR bus ride and an 35 INR entry fee, with an extra 20 INR for a camera and we can’t resist.
Not only does the site house 18 of the world’s 23 species of crocodiles, but, it also provides research. It also provides an educational look at creatures that I have no desire whatsoever to get close to.
This, I figure is the safest and only way that I’ll get anywhere near them.
And there are lots of them. Above there are the marsh crocodiles, loads of them and so very common here in India.
So much so that there are multiple pens. And there is no zoom used on the photos, which are taken with an iPhone camera. I’m proud of me, even if you aren’t!
These marsh or mugger crocodiles are endangered in the wild – and there are more than 350 in each pen here!
There’s also a caiman, that I’m not too concerned about (yet) as they’re only found in South America.
This truly prehistoric looking creature is the Gharial, its very distinctive long thin snout makes it obvious. It eats fish and lives in deep fast moving rivers. They only come out of the water to bask in the sun and lay eggs. They only exist in the wild in India and small area of Nepal and are critically endangered.
There are also a couple of “salties”. These are the big, huge, dangerous beasties that I’m warned we’re going to avoid like the plague when we get to Australia.
The Madras Crocodile Bank is co-located with the Irula Snake Catchers Co-Operative Society. These guys extract venom to be used in anti-venom. They also put on a small show for visitors – as well, of course, as catching snakes from the area.
There is an open pit in front of us, in which are placed a large number of earthenware jars. Some have cream clothes on the top of them. Some are open.
The board tells us how many cobra, viper, krait are present. Let’s hope that they don’t miscount. Oh, and the snake on the top of the board is NOT a prop.
Then the snakes are brought out…
We’re in the minority today, it’s mostly domestic tourists. The snake catchers are also limited in their English language skills. There’s little that we can understand. It’s easy, though, once the demonstration begins to show us how the snake reacts to movement. I, by the way, am not moving. Not one little millimeter. Zero. Zip. Still.
Then they milk a few snakes, then show us the venom from three snakes.
And as a final element, we’re shown the scar on our guy’s wrist, where he was bitten. We comprehend enough to understand that it took him a month to recover. And we figure he’s more than earned the tip we give him. We leave, smoothly, slowly, with no sudden movements…
We head back to Mammalapuram to seek out the wifi and cold beer at the Bob Marley bar. We’ll be heading north in the morning to Chennai for our second attempt on the city..
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