When Can You See a Snake Dance?
There are two occasions when a snake will “dance”- both connected with the mating season. In the first case the dancing partners are both male and their performance appears to be a form of aggression designed to impress the female.
The second occasion is a nuptial dance between male and female. First the snakes pursue each other and coil together. Then the couple raise their necks and heads as if forming the shape of the letter U.
During the dance, which may last an hour, the male rubs its chin against the female’s neck. The nuptial dance occurs mainly among European snakes, but the males’ dance of aggression is to be seen all over the world especially among rattlesnakes, adders and cobras.
The lack of limbs does not impede the movement of snakes. They have developed several different modes of locomotion to deal with particular environments. Unlike the gaits of limbed animals, which form a continuum, each mode of snake locomotion is discrete and distinct from the others; transitions between modes are abrupt.
In some parts of the world, especially in India, snake charming is a roadside show performed by a charmer. In such a show, the snake charmer carries a basket that contains a snake that he seemingly charms by playing tunes from his flute-like musical instrument, to which the snake responds.
Snakes lack external ears, though they do have internal ears, and respond to the movement of the flute, not the actual noise.
The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 in India technically proscribes snake charming on grounds of reducing animal cruelty. Other snake charmers also have a snake and mongoose show, where both the animals have a mock fight; however, this is not very common, as the snakes, as well as the mongooses, may be seriously injured or killed.
Snake charming as a profession is dying out in India because of competition from modern forms of entertainment and environment laws proscribing the practice.