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Hatched in captivity

P. Oppili

Checkered keelback, eggs found in Velachery



NEW HOME: The newborn checkered keelbacks kept in an earthen pot at the Wildlife headquarters in Velachery on Monday. — Photo: N. Sridharan

CHENNAI: The Wildlife office at Velachery is now host to 45 newly hatched checkered keelback snakes from eggs retrieved from a nearby building. A week ago the Wildlife authorities had rescued a checkered keelback (a type of water snake) from a bottling unit in Vijayanagar, Velachery. Along with the snake, they also retrieved a cluster of eggs.

The eggs hatched on Sunday night and the 45 young snakes have been kept in an earthen pot.

K.S. Sathyamoorthy, Headquarters Range Officer (Wildlife), said snakes such as the checkered keelback were found near agricultural fields and water bodies on the city's outskirts. They mainly feed on rats and frogs. It is for the first time that checkered keelback eggs have hatched in large numbers. Mr. Sathyamoorthy said that a month ago they rescued a checkered keelback with 14 eggs and all of them hatched, which were released back in the wild.

The mother of the newborn snakes, rescued from the bottling unit at Velachery, was found to be ferocious. "Even the snake handlers are afraid of handling the mother. It is a non-poisonous snake, but can still bite hard with an itchy feeling. She measured about four-and-a-half feet in length," Mr. Sathyamoorthy said. At present the young snakes are given water mixed with glucose. They would be kept at the Velachery office till the first moulting, after which they will be released.

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