A new study has described the "hemiclitores" of snakes for the first time


  • India prohibits smuggling of exotic animals into the country
  • Chennai accounts for more than a third of illegal wildlife seizures in India
  • Local rich and famous in Chennai and surrounding states are fascinated by exotic animals

A woman traveling from Malaysia was caught trying to smuggle snakes and a chameleon into India.

Indian customs officials said in a statement on social media that the unidentified woman arrived at Chennai Airport via an AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on April 28.

Upon examination of her check-in baggage, they found 22 snakes of various species and sizes, along with one chameleon.

Chennai Customs shared a video showing how packed the snakes were in various transparent plastic containers. There appeared to be barely enough room for them to move or breathe, which could be dangerous to the animals.

"[Chennai Customs] intercepted a female [passenger] arriving from Kuala Lumpur by Flight No. AK13. On examination of check-in baggage, 22 snakes of various species and a chameleon were found," India's Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs tweeted alongside the footage.

Snake handlers were called in when some of the snakes began slithering around on the airport floor and on airport trolleys. They used hooked tools to scoop up the animals before shutting them in boxes.

The seizure was conducted under the country's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, which prohibits the smuggling of exotic animals into India.

Authorities did not say whether the woman was arrested following the discovery.

Monitoring network TRAFFIC said Chennai accounts for more than a third of all illegal wildlife seizures in India, according to a Metro report. The local rich and famous in the city and the surrounding state of Tamil Nadu are reportedly fascinated by exotic pets.

For every intercepted attempt to smuggle animals, another nine make it through undetected, experts from TRAFFIC estimated.

In January, authorities in Chennai seized two bags from a passenger from Thailand which contained 45 ball pythons, eight corn snakes, three marmosets and three star tortoises.

In October 2022, the largest seizure of exotic animals took place after Indian authorities confiscated a total of 1,204 reptiles, including ball pythons, green iguanas, monitor lizards, corn snakes and African spurred tortoises, Malaysian paper Daily Express reported, citing the Indian Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.

Meanwhile, the discovery of 22 snakes in a woman's check-in bag garnered mixed reactions from online users who seemed fascinated that this was a regular occurrence in some parts of India.

"How were they not caught in Kuala Lumpur?" one Twitter user wrote.

Other users praised the customs officials for taking swift action on the matter.

"Exceptionally good job in detecting this case and taking prompt actions to intercept and seize the animals," one user said.

"Congratulations to the Air Customs Officers ... for effecting this unusual seizure," another user added.

King cobras, originally from South and Southeast Asia, are the world's longest venomous snake