Snake charmers aren’t charming at all…

By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer

charmed snake
Don’t be fooled by the snake. He’s threatened, not charmed!

Snake charming is a common practice in the country of India, where individuals play hypnotic melodies that lull snakes into a trance. As the musician waves his instrument – the  pungi – rhythmically from side to side, it looks like the snake can’t resist dancing along! What is it about the pungi that the serpents love?

According to Robert Drewes, chairman of the department of herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles) at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, it’s not so much a dance as it is a warning!

“The movement of the snake is completely keyed in on the guy playing the toodley thing,” he says. “He sways, the snake sways.”

In other words, the reptile isn’t actually dancing along. He’s carefully following the pungi (you know, the toodley thing) in a defensive pose, ready to whip out his sharp fangs and strike at any moment!

I could have sworn the snake was bobbing his tiny head along to the harmony though, so what makes Drewes so sure that the reptile isn’t enjoying the music?

“Birds bob their heads to beats, bonobos played keyboard with Peter Gabriel,” he says, adding, “but we’re ascribing our attributes to animals. Show me animals appearing to enjoy music that aren’t captive, that aren’t looking for something to alleviate the boredom.”

I guesssss Taylor Ssssswift won’t be holding a ssssnake concert anytime sssssoon… ssssseriousssly! Featured image courtesy of Nimal Skandhakumar on Flickr. Image of held cobra courtesy of Ryan Ritchie on Flickr.