Most snakes move in a forwards direction by zig-zagging along the ground. However, the Straight Snake of Assam. a small brown snake from north-eastern India, always moves in a straight line. Herpetologists believe that the snake is extremely sensitive to the presence of its prey and will stop dead if prey is near. As it travels in a straight line, if it stops, then it appears to be just another stick or small branch and is deemed harmless by the prey.
The Straight Snake lives mainly in trees where it blends in with the surroundings. It can grow to about four feet long and has a vicious bite that will paralyse a large man for two hours, should he be foolish enough to try and pick up the snake and throw it for his dog to fetch. The snake has the ability to stiffen the sinews of its body and birds have been known to perch on a snake, mistaking it for a tree.
The snake lives mainly on small rodents and mammals that live under the branches of trees. These animals don’t believe that parts of a tree can be their enemy until it is too late. Drivers in Assam are always advised not to drive over sticks lying in the road, as these can be Straight Snakes, who will survive being run over and can creep into the recesses of a car.
Straight snakes have no natural enemies, not even man, and the only reason the snakes don’t breed more than they do, is because both male and female snakes look very similar and have a tendency to stay still if they sense another snake is around. Visitors to Assam, who see two sticks getting intimate in a tree, are asked to leave them to it.