Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Snakes Have Milk Allergies?!?

File this one under snake oil.

West Bengal's snake charmers close to starvation.

According to the World Wildlife Fund survey on the occasion of Nagpanchmi, some 70,000 snakes die of pneumonia, lung infection, sepsis and milk allergy.

Can this possibly be true? A CNN article has a longer explanation.
As a crowd pleaser, some snakes [because of a myth that they can drink milk] are fed milk and butter during festivals, which often makes the snakes ill.

The World Wildlife Fund says some 70,000 snakes annually die from milk allergy, pneumonia, lung infection and sepsis.

In August, hundreds of snakes, their mouths sewn shut and venom glands punctured, were confiscated by wildlife officials before a Bombay Hindu festival in which starving cobras and rock pythons are forced to drink milk.

Puncture wounds in their mouths can turn septic and kill snakes, and milk causes them to suffer digestive problems and possibly choke them when it fills their lungs.

The mechanism by which snakes suffer digestive problems from milk is not at all clear from even this article. What is obvious is that what they suffer from, given this ignorant and cruel treatment, is in no way a milk allergy. Why the World Wildlife Fund, which should know better, uses this term is beyond me.

Applying a human term that is of concern to parents to barbarous behavior that is not connected to that term does a disservice to everyone. I wonder if someone more knowledgeable about the animal world can help clear this up.

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