What Type of Music Works Best for Snake Charming?

For much of the 20th century, snake charmers were a fixture at markets and festivals in India and other Asian nations, entertaining crowds with their apparent ability to control some of the world's most dangerous reptiles. A snake charmer would appear to hypnotize a snake by playing a flute-like instrument called a pungi or bansuri. The snake would then sway, as if mesmerized by the music. But herpetologists say that snakes can’t hear sounds in the same frequency range as humans, and that their “dance” was simply a reaction to the movement of the instrument by the snake charmer.

An ancient tradition, fading away:

  • In India, the practice of catching snakes and training them to perform was traditionally passed on from father to son. For generations, it provided reliable income for many families.

  • India's snake charmers have pointed out that wildlife protection laws have contributed to the practice's marked decline.

  • Another reason: “After seeing so many wildlife shows on television, city folk are losing the fear and awe they used to have of snakes," says snake charmer Pitam Nath.

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More Info: National Geographic

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