Uttarakhand forest department officials have rescued a spectacled cobra with a rare genetic disorder from Dehradun this week, officials said.
The snake was rescued from a local resident’s scooter where it was hiding.
Ravi Joshi, a member of the quick response team of the forest department which rescued the snake, said that they got a call regarding the rescue around 11:30 pm on Sunday night from a house in Dehradun.
“When we went there to rescue, we did not realise initially that this could be a snake with some rare features. After rescuing it from the storage space of a scooter, where locals saw it hiding during the night walk, we started clicking pictures of the snake and to our surprise, we saw that it had two different colours bilaterally on its body. We then realised something is different about this snake and informed senior officials,” said Joshi.
When contacted, experts from Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) said it was a spectacled cobra with a rare genetic disorder called partial leucism.
Abhijit Das, scientist and herpetologist at Wildlife Institute of India said even though the snake is widely distributed in this region, it is rare to find a snake with such a genetic disorder.
“The phenomenon that was recorded is called partial leucism, that is kind of an aberration or congenital defect. There are various kinds of colouration, like albinism, where the snake is completely white including the eyes, but in this case, it is partial leucism. Only half the body of the snake is leucistic,” said Das.
He further informed that leucistic snakes have a body completely white in colour or there are patches of white and black.
“Spectacled cobras usually found in Uttarakhand are jet black in colour, but in this case, there is a symmetry with half the body being black and white. This is a rare genetic deformity,” added Das.
Spectacled cobras, part of the big four venomous snakes of the country, have a widespread distribution across the country except in north-eastern parts, informed experts.
Moving towards the eastern landscapes of the country from the northern region, the colour of spectacled cobra changes from black to brown (found in Odisha, Southern India) to yellowish brown (in parts of West Bengal).