is a natural habitat of a variety of snakes. A dread of snakes could have
perhaps contributed to serpent worship. Snake idols are housed in the
'Sarpakkavu' or groves where the natural vegetation is kept undisturbed.
Snakes are believed to have powers to curse a man who kills them and cause misfortunes and diseases, especially of the skin. There are two namboothiri houses (Pambummekkattu and Mannarsala) famed for worshipping the snakes and which specialise in treatment of illnesses caused by serpent ire.
With the exploding human population, snakes are increasingly going rare. Snake charmers, who make the cobra dance to the movement of their 'Makudi' (modified flute), are becoming an extinct tribe.
In ancient times, there were native doctors who specialised in treating snakebites. The belief is that they were able to foresee a snakebite victim being brought to them and upon their arrival, predict the cause of the poisoning.
They were also credited with the power to lure the very snake, which bit a person and command it to suck its own venom from the wound. Certain stones and herbs were used in snakebite treatment.