What Is a Snake Charmer?


Traditional snake charming involves a venomous snake, typically a cobra or viper, being "charmed" by the music of a flute. The snake uncoils from a basket, rises and appears to sway as if hypnotized. Most snake charmers are street performers and can be found throughout India, Pakistan, northern Africa and parts of southern Asia.


  • The earliest accounts of snake charmers are from ancient Egypt. Healers and educated men learned about venomous snakes and treatment for snakebite and incorporated their knowledge into a form of entertainment. In early India, snake charmers were considered to be holy men.

    Snake charming became well-known in Western society in the early 20th century. The government of India actively promoted the practice to draw tourists and private showings were often held overseas for the wealthy. In some ways, snake charming became symbolic of Indian culture to many Westerners.

Cultural Significance

  • Snakes, particularly cobras, hold a special place in Hindu beliefs. Cobras were considered to be god-like creatures that should be treated with respect. Many depictions of Hindu gods show them being guarded by cobras.

    In rural areas, snake charmers are considered to be healers and magicians and are sometimes asked to rid homes of snakes. Often, snake charming is an inherited occupation, passing from a father to his sons.


  • Aside from the traditional form of charming snakes with a flute, there are some common variations. Often the performer will kiss the top of the snake's head or put the snake's head in his mouth. Snake charmers also have been known to stage combats between cobras and mongooses. Almost any street performer who engages in performances involving live snakes could be termed a snake charmer.


  • It is widely believed that snakes are lulled into a complacent state by the music the snake charmer plays and that they are literally "dancing to the music." This is not actually the case. Snakes have very poor hearing and cannot hear the music. What is most likely happening is that the snake is reacting to the movements of the flute and slight vibrations in the ground. When the snake rises out of its basket, it is actually just going into its natural defensive posture.


  • The treatment of snakes used in snake charming has been questioned by several animal rights organizations. Snakes are often treated poorly by charmers and the snake's fangs or venom glands are often removed. In some cases, the snake's mouth is sown completely shut except for a small opening which allows its tongue to dart out. Snakes often die of starvation or infection. Many snake charmers go through several snakes a year.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit gregory/Flickr.com
Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • Black Cobra Snake Information

    Known for their deadly venom and ominous appearance, black cobras are well respected by those who live, work and conduct research with...

  • How Do I Become a Snake Milker?

    Snake milking operates under a regulated industry, according to Job Monkey. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) monitors who purchases and...

  • How to Use a Stage Snake

    When you're mixing live sound, it helps to be positioned in the audience area so you know how everyone in the house...

  • How to Kill a Snake in Minutes

    Before acting on your intention to harm and kill a wild animal, be sure that you do not have any other options...

  • Sideshow Freak Costume Ideas

    Side show freaks such as the bearded lady, snake charmer, tattooed girl, and strong man are common Halloween costumes because of their...

  • Party Games for Women in India

    When planning a party for any group of women, take into consideration the number of guests and their ages. A game that...

  • How to Be Charming

    Being charming is a matter of attitude, smiling and being open with body language. Become a more charming man with tips for...

Related Searches

Check It Out

How to Build and Grow a Salad Garden On Your Balcony

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!