The red sand boa is traded all over south India. Manipulative con artists ready with baskets of this plump red-brown snake buried in soil manage to convince even public figures and politicians to buy into the ruse.
As always superstitious myth play a hand in it’s rampant illegal trade. Shaped like any burrowing snake, the red sand boa or ‘two-headed snake’ as it is widely believed to be, is thick and short with a blunt head and tail. It is this distinct physical feature that has given rise to a ritual wherein the snake is cut in half to make two heads appear and bring you good luck. Some believe that performing this ritual of sacrificing a red sand boa can even cure AIDS.
A single specimen is sold anywhere between 15 lakhs and 1 crore.
Referred to as ‘double engine’ on the street, some of its local names are mannu mukkha havu (mud eating snake), yeradu thale haavu (two headed snake) and even koti haavu meaning a snake that earns you a crore; perfectly symbolising its position in the market.
To keep up with rising demand, lead or iron balls are often inserted in the cloaca and mercury injected increase it’s weight and earn a higher price. The snake is still alive through of this and when rescued needs to be euthanised on account of heavy metal poisoning.
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