Mysterious Appearance of Juvenile Reticulated Python at IIT Madras Puzzles Experts and Raises Ecological Concerns
A juvenile reticulated python, a species native to South and Southeast Asia, was spotted slithering across a residential zone within the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) campus. The snake has left experts puzzled, residents intrigued, and authorities on high alert.
According to the Guindy National Park (GNP) authorities, the python is estimated to be around 7 to 8 feet long. “Immediately, three teams each from Velachery rescue centre, Guindy children’s park and Irula snake catchers were deployed. A trap has been set up at the place where it was last spotted to capture it,” said a senior official. Chicken traps are also planned to be used to catch the snake, the officials told media on Friday.
Reticulated pythons are the world’s longest and third heaviest snakes, commonly found only in the Nicobar Islands within India. Without a known breeding population source in mainland India, the appearance of this snake at IIT-M raises several questions.
There are theories aplenty and rumors are catching like fire. One suggests that a baby python might have escaped from the nearby Chennai Snake Park, which has a breeding population. R Rajarathinam, Director of Chennai Snake Park, however, dismissed this possibility and said, “In 2020, there was a reticulated python breeding in our facility, and we have records for every individual snake.
The mother died after giving birth. As of now, we have one fully grown adult male, which measures 15 feet in length, six sub-adult females, and 10 juveniles.” Another theory posits that someone might have released it into the campus as an ‘exotic’ pet. Yet, the snake’s appearance remains an unsolved puzzle, as if wrapped in scales and mystery.
Though the snake is non-venomous and slow-moving, its presence has sparked a debate among experts and institute authorities. “We don’t want such a large snake to be in our forests, one because this is not its natural habitat and other it would lead to fear psychosis,” a forest offciail told The Hindu.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the reticulated python as of “least concern” globally. Its sudden appearance in an unnatural habitat like IIT-M, which lies next to the Snake Park and is contiguous to the Guindy National Park, raises questions about ecological balance and human-wildlife interaction.