Indian snake charmers and how they mock King Cobras

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We’ve all seen the videos. Massive King Cobra getting smacked on the head or fooled around with and even cuddled with by a relaxed Indian dude. It seems to be a learnt skill. How? Why?

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Cobras and other venomous snakes are common across much rural India. Many people–especially people living in rural areas–are forced to deal with cobras, kraits, and other species of snake as a part of everyday life. Since government services can be sparse to nonexistent in some parts of the country, people will often take the risk of removing a snake from a problem area themselves.

In some instances, people may also be trained snake-catchers–this profession is often inter-generational, so children may have been taught how to interact with snakes from a very early age.

It’s like anything else, really: how do [some] Australians wrestle crocodiles? How can a cowboy stay atop a bucking bronco? Practice, exposure, and more practice.

Of course, many Hindu Indians have a religious affinity for snakes, especially the King Cobra. There are a handful of villages in India–like Shetpal in Maharashtra–where people actively worship and co-exist with snakes, which are (allegedly) allowed to move freely between homes and sleep wherever they wish.