Vava Suresh- `snake man` of Kerala

He gave up schooling to dedicate his life to rescue and protect snakes and 25 years of dogged efforts have seen 37-year-old Vava Suresh catch 25,000 of the slithery creatures, most of them cobras.

Thiruvananthapuram: He gave up schooling
to dedicate his life to rescue and protect snakes and 25 years
of dogged efforts have seen 37-year-old Vava Suresh catch
25,000 of the slithery creatures, most of them cobras.

Suresh rescues snakes that stray into human habitats
and releases them back into bushes or forests where they could
live and flourish without being harmed by humans.
He said he was born to `love and guard` snakes without
being driven by any monetary considerations.

Braving poisonous bites, the ‘snake-man’ of Kerala has
caught about 25,000 snakes, most of them cobras, from various
parts of the state and put them back into forests.

Calls from various corners of the state, on sighting
of snakes, keep his mobile phone busy throughout the day. Even
local police and fire-force sometime use his expertise in
trapping snakes without causing harm to the reptile or people.

Suresh, living in Thiruvananthapuram, said snakes are
gentle and lovable creatures which need kindness and
protection from men.

"Snakes are part of my life ever since childhood. I,
actually, do not know how I fell in love with them. As a child
I had seen people brutally killing snakes. That instilled
sympathy for the creature in my mind. At the same time, idols
of serpents in temples made me feel that they have some
divinity and should be protected," Suresh told agency.
"I get around 15 calls a day seeking my services to
catch snakes which people sight in their residential premises.
Many of them get my phone number from police stations or from
fire force units. Some local dailies also publish my mobile
number for the people to contact me easily," he said.

Suresh caught his first snake alive when he was 12.
Since then, his catch list include 12 King cobras, 7000 Indian
cobras, 1600-1700 vipers and 150 kraits.

A conservationist’s passion and sympathetic approach
towards snakes is what makes Suresh different from other

He never uses hooks or other sharp tools to trap the
reptile as such implements will harm the delicate and slimy
body. He will never allow people to kill them after trapping.

Suresh prefers to describe himself as a self-made
snake catcher.

"I abandoned my schooling at 12. Since then, I have
been living for the reptile. Sometimes I feel God has sent me
to earth to protect them," he said.

According to Suresh, King cobra is the most dangerous
and difficult snake to catch.
"Trapping King cobra is very risky as it is highly
venomous. It becomes all the more tenacious when it hatches

His house at Sreekaryam area in the city is a
mini-snake park and has many cobra eggs.

"I have hatched around 450 cobra eggs in the last
month alone. A large number of eggs of different snake species
are still at my home. I hope they will get hatched by the end
of this month. I am planning to release them collectively into
the forests after that," Suresh said.

He is always on the move in search of snakes on call
from people who are in urgent need of his service. There were
days when he attends 10 to 15 cases. Sometimes, the ‘rescue
mission’ will continue for 20-22 hours at a stretch.

"It may be easy to trap a snake. But, to catch them
without hurting them is more important for me," he said.

Suresh has suffered very few snakebites.

The last such incident happened a couple of months
back when he tried to show a female cobra with eggs, which he
had trapped, to some mediapersons and got bitten. Though he
had to spend many days in hospital, the incident did not dent
his passion for rescuing and protecting snakes.
Snakes are less dangerous than human beings as they
will inject their venom only when harmed, he says in a lighter

"Humans can tame any other animal or creature in the
world, but never snakes. It is what I have learnt from my
three-decade-long experience. They sense with their forked and
moving tongue. Whatever object they come across is taken as
prey or food by them. That`s why they bite other creatures
including humans. They are not doing it intentionally," Suresh