Collecting Snakes in Karachi

clip_19Two Pakistani brothers live with more than 100 snakes slithering around their home. Hamza and Hassan Hussain say their fascination with the creatures took off after they watched the children’s cartoon ‘Jungle Book’. “We started when we were in our teens. I was in awe of the green boa in ‘Jungle Book’ and we finally bought a snake. Then we slowly became very passionate about them,” says Hamza, 20.

His brother Hassan, 22, a medical college student, bought the first snake – a sand boa – from a local animal seller for 15 pounds. “We used to bring cows and goats home during Eid (the Muslim festival), then I bought some pigeons. After sometime, I pet a crocodile and eventually got to know about snakes,” added Hassan.

A few months later, they bought a six-foot long Indian Rock Python for 150 pounds. Five years on, the two brothers now have over a 100 snakes, including species such as albino pythons. “When we began keeping snakes in our house, lots of our neighbours filed complaints against us as they were scared. We live in a residential area, so we have to be careful. We have to make sure that the snakes never move beyond our boundary wall,” say the brothers. They’ve now become wildlife stars in their neighbourhood of Karachi, Pakistan. As the word spread, people flocked to their house to catch a glimpse of their unusual pets – with the duo now nicknamed the ‘python brothers’.

They imported 16 pythons, including the largest in Pakistan, from Oklahoma City, USA, to keep them as pets. The largest is a female het albino reticulated python, which is seen coiled around Hassan’s neck all the time. After importing the snakes from the US, the brothers started the breeding and now have more than 100 in total. They also have baby pythons, each measuring about a foot in length – but with the potential to grow up to at least five or six feet.

“Pythons take three to four months to lay eggs after mating, and 60 more days for the eggs to hatch. If the female gets pregnant, she will eat less and shed more skin. The shedding is customary with the breed,” said Hassan. The snakes eat duck, hen or a rabbit once a week, which Hassan says is more than enough for a young python. The two spend over 1500 pounds every month purely on the upkeep of the snakes.

Some of the young snakes have even attacked Hassan, but he remains unfazed as he considers them a part of the family. Hassan believes the python bite is less dangerous than a dog bite and claims it hurts less.

The brothers have now set up an NGO zoo – The Wildlife Experience Center, in North Nazimabad. “Now universities are approaching us. They want us to come and speak about the snakes. There are misconceptions about these creatures. So we are doing our bit to preserve them and raise awareness,” said Hassan

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