Hoshing said that though it is well known that none of the lizards found in India are venomous, the superstitions about geckos being poisonous persists. "Another common misconception about reptiles is that bright coloured snakes are always venomous, but
there are several snakes such as the Royal snake, which has brilliant colours, but is non-venomous. Some superstitions about these creatures now threaten their very existence," he said.
"There is a belief that if spiny-tailed lizards are boiled in oil, it can be applied on joints to cure arthritis. There is no basis for this belief, but it persists. As a result these lizards are caught, their spines removed and then boiled alive in oil
and peddled as a medicinal mixture," Hoshing said.
Hoshing's lecture was interspersed with information about curious phenomenon such as how snakes utilize their tongues and the Jacobson's organ "to smell" their prey or the process of moulting - the shedding of skins that is done by nearly all reptiles.
"There is a need to spread awareness about reptiles and snakes," he said.
In the past snakes used to be extensively hunted for their skin. Today, the trade in exotic snake skin has gone down but the number of these reptiles continues to decline because of habitat loss, he said.
Hoshing rued that research on reptiles and amphibians in India is limited with most of the studies concentrated on birds and mammals
Read More at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Reptiles-existence-threatened-by-superstitions-Researcher/articleshow/23618051.cms