Meet 6 Snakes of the Ganges River

Biggest Snakes: The Reticulated Python
© Opayaza12/Shutterstock.com

Written by Brandi Allred

Updated: June 30, 2023

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The Ganges River, known in India as the Ganga, or the Padma, starts its flow in the Western Himalayas. It travels across Northern India like a crown before joining the Brahmaputra River and dumping its contents in the Bay of Bengal. By discharge, it’s the third largest river system in the world. Over 400 million people live, worship, and die on the banks of this sacred river, but they’re not the only ones that call the Ganges home.

Picture graph of six snakes found along the Ganges River in India.
Among these 6 snakes, only the Krait is venomous.

Here, we’ll discover six of the most fascinating snakes of the Ganges River. We’ll find out what they look like, whether or not they’re swimmers, and what they like to eat. We’ll also learn about their venom, or lack thereof, and whether or not they’re dangerous to people.

Keep reading to learn more about the snakes of the Ganges River!

1. Brahminy Blind Snake (Indotyphlops braminus)

Smallest Snakes: Brahminy Blind Snake

Despite their small size, brahminy blind snakes have become the most wide-ranging terrestrial reptiles in the world.

©Patrick K. Campbell/Shutterstock.com

Brahminy blind snakes of the Ganges River might not be venomous, but that doesn’t mean they’re not plentiful. These tiny snakes grow to a maximum length of only six inches. They resemble nothing so much as earthworms, with an all-over medium brown color and smooth, glossy scales. Their heads look no different from their tails, and their eyes are tiny, black dots on their faces.

Brahminy blind snakes are mostly blind, fossorial (living in and under the ground) snakes. They eat some of the smallest creatures out there, including the eggs and larvae of termites and ants. These snakes are common throughout India, where they live strictly on the ground.

2. Checkered Keelback (Fowlea piscator)

Checkered Keelback

The checkered keelback frequently mimics cobras as a means of self-defense.

©dwi putra stock/Shutterstock.com

Checkered keelback snakes of the Ganges River may be seen along the entire length of the river. Luckily, these uniquely patterned snakes aren’t venomous and present no threat to humans. They grow up to 5.5 feet long, with thick bodies and python-like heads. Their most distinguishing feature is their checkerboard pattern, made up of black and yellow scales.

Checkered keelbacks are highly aquatic, and they spend much of their time hunting in fresh water. They eat a diet of frogs and small fish. They’re also famous for “standing up” and stretching out their neck skin in mimicry of a cobra in order to scare off would-be attackers.

3. Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus)

reticulated python

The reticulated python is a native of the Indian subcontinent and much of Southeast Asia.

©Mark_Kostich/Shutterstock.com

They might not be the heaviest snakes in the world, but reticulated pythons are certainly the longest. These snakes have bold brown, yellow, and black patterning, with powerful muscles designed for constricting prey to death. They grow up to 23 feet long and are among the most impressive, and potentially dangerous, snakes in India.

Reticulated pythons start out eating birds and small mammals, like rats and bats. As they grow to gargantuan lengths, their prey also increases in size. Large adults can effectively hunt and consume pigs, deer, primates, chickens, sun bears, and even cats and dogs. They’re not venomous, but that doesn’t take away from their deadliness.

4. Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosa)

snakes mating

Many species of snake, including the rat snake, breed in a ball often known as a mating knot.

©iStock.com/DEVJYOTI BANERJEE

The rat snake lives across much of India, including the Ganges River area, and the outlying Nicobar and Andaman Islands. Indian rat snakes of the Ganges River are non-venomous and pose no threat to humans. These snakes grow up to six feet long, or longer, and they have medium-weight, slender bodies. They range in color from light gray to yellow or green or even dark brown or black. They spend time both on the ground and in the trees.

Rat snakes are common both in agricultural and urban settings, as well as in forests and wetlands. They eat just about anything they find, including rats, mice, birds, frogs, toads, lizards, and smaller snakes. When threatened, they may “growl” or even attempt to mimic the hooded look of a cobra.

5. Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus)

Deadliest Snakes - Common Krait

Common kraits have extremely potent venom.

©Arabindu Sardar/Shutterstock.com

Common kraits are among the most infamous snakes of the Ganges River. They grow up to six feet long, with narrow heads and squarish noses. Their most distinguishing features are narrow white bands encircling their red-brown bodies. These snakes are largely nocturnal and, with their potent neurotoxic venom, are responsible for many snakebites in India.

Common kraits eat mostly reptiles, like blind snakes and other types of krait. They also eat lizards, frogs, rats, mice, and occasionally other creatures, like scorpions. They stick mostly to the ground, near water. These snakes live in urban, agricultural, and jungle settings.

6. Indian Wolf Snake (Lycodon aulicus)

Indian Wolf Snake

Despite their pit viper-like appearance, Indian wolf snakes are non-venomous.

©sushil kumudini chikane/Shutterstock.com

Due to their unique dentition, Indian wolf snakes are easily identified. Like common kraits, they have dark red-brown bodies with white bands. However, their band markings are much more irregular than those of the common krait. Their heads are long and narrow, and they have large, black eyes. These snakes grow up to 30 inches long and have wolf-like teeth at the front of their mouths.

Indian wolf snakes are found throughout India. They’re primarily nocturnal, hunting for frogs and lizards by the light of the moon. Skinks are one of their favorite targets. Unlike kraits, Indian wolf snakes are non-venomous and present no threat to humans. Unfortunately, they’re often killed by humans who mistakenly identify them as venomous kraits.

Summary of 6 Snakes of the Ganges River

Name of SnakeLengthDiet
Brahminy Blind SnakeUp to 6 inchesThe smallest creatures and eggs and larvae of termites and ants.
Checkered KeelbackUp to 5.5 feetFrogs and small fish.
Reticulated PythonUp to 23 feetFrom birds and small animals to pigs, deer, primates, chickens, sun bears, cats, and dogs.
Rat SnakeUp to 6 feetRats, mice, birds, frogs, toads, lizards, and smaller snakes.
Common KraitUp to 6 feetMostly reptiles like blind snakes and other types of krait; also lizards, frogs, rats, mice, and others, like scorpions.
Indian Wolf SnakeUp to 30 inchesFrogs and lizards.

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About the Author

Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She holds degrees in English and Anthropology, and spends her free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.

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