Shedding light on the subject of snakes

A friend of mine raised the subject of snakes!

She had a monk friend living in a Wat in rural Thailand. One of his duties required him to walk around the temple with his torch and night which leads to encounters with snakes. How could he protect himself she asked?

Sound familiar? I hope not, but perhaps you will find the following knowledge interesting.

Most nocturnal life is attracted to light – insects and bugs are perhaps the most obvious example of this. Nocturnal snakes have, over time, developed sensitivity to UV light which has sharpened their vision in low light levels like moonlight.

Further, all snakes are dichromatic, which means they see two primary colours: blue and green. Humans are, of course, trichromatic, seeing blue, green, and red.

What we understand as cold white light (those bright white light bulbs) has a significant blue light component within their white light output. This type of light is clearly visible to snakes. Warm white light has the least amount of blue light and more red light; this type of light is not strongly visible to snakes.

I suggested to my friend that perhaps the monk could place some red cellophane over his torch to see if the snakes still jump out, attracted by his light … but beware of pythons, along with some other types of nocturnal snakes, they can detect infrared so can see you as a heat signature!

Snakes may not be your problem, but the same theory applies to other nocturnal life. If its mosquitoes, geckoes or even elephants you don’t want to attract then you might find the infographic showing their visual range interesting.

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