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How Much Would YOU Pay to Pet a Charmed Snake in India?

What would YOU pay to stroke a charmed snake?
Would YOU pay $3.50 to stroke a charmed snake in India?

“TWO HUNDRED RUPEES?!” our India tour guide, Manu, gasped. “That’s WAY too much, David!”

“Sheesh,” mumbled my brother as we walked out of the Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi. “Three and a half dollars isn’t a terrible price to stroke one of those fancy snakes, especially since the guy said the fangs were removed. Anyway, I bargained him down from 1,000 rupees.”

The snake starts to turn in to bite...
The snake started to turn to bite, and the charmer slammed on the lid!

“Next time,” Manu instructed my little brother, “Pay only 20 or 50 rupees— less than a dollar. And by the way, snakes are deaf, so they’re only “charmed” by the movement of the flute.” As our van pulled off, Manu turned around with a smile. “Anyway, the better sight is the DOUBLE snake charmer when we get to the City Palace in Jaipur. Two snakes for one!”

A DOUBLE snake charmer in another spot of our India tour.
A DOUBLE snake charmer in the Jaipur section of our India tour.

Whoa! Double snake charmer?! As you see from these photos, we found that charmer soon enough. Unfortunately for his pockets, by that time we already had our snake photos from the first encounter. And really– how many snake stroking photos can one have?

What a job, eh?
What a job, eh?

But this whole episode presents several questions. First: How much would YOU pay to stroke one of those famous charmed snakes of India? Second, at what point do you NOT care about getting “ripped off” in a country where your money goes so much further than at home?

Snake charmer is angry the photo-happy man didn't pay!
The snake charmer got angry that the photo-snapping man didn’t pay!

When I paid $15 to pet fifteen live tigers in Thailand, I assure you that was worth it as heck. (I still use those photos on my business cards and make people faint.) Manu had a point, however, that the more tourists unknowingly pay inflated prices, the more annoying it is for everyone. The notorious price scams of Vietnam travel show this in action.

Come on and stroke the snake...
Come on and stroke the snake…

So… if a snake charmer in India beckoned for you to come hither, what would YOU do and why?


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Global Nomads

Monday 10th of June 2013

We would not do anything either. It is sheer animal cruelty and we don't want to have anything to do with such activities. The same applies to visiting zoos, scuba diving and participating safaris. We love animals but want to see them and be with them only when it does to hurt them, preferably spontaneously in their own natural habitat on their own terms. Animals are not toys, money making tools or food, not even for tourism industry. Animals are living and feeling sentient beings just like us humans.


Friday 10th of May 2013

Not a penny... I like snakes, they are fascinating animals, but it'd rather not be so close to them; I don't trust that fangs have been removed even if they say so and I would rather not want an upset cobra dangling from my wrist... If I visit a zoo you'll soon find me among the snakes and crocodiles though. And I can very much recommend the Pasteur institute in Bangkok, run by the Red Cross, where they educate you about snakes and also make serum. VERY interesting! I also had the opportunity to hold one of the snakes when I was there, a Boa or a Python - I can never remember which one is which. Have done it before and they are truly fascinating, pure muscles. Normally they don't have "petting zoo:s" at the Red Cross, I was just lucky enough to be one of VERY few visitors so an exception was made. It wasn't the first and surely not the last time I held a snake but this time I was sitting with it for much longer than I would normally have done. But cobras? No thanks...


Friday 10th of May 2013

Oh, I think I went there in Bangkok!


Sunday 21st of April 2013

You could not pay me enough to get near that snake, defanged or not. Same with any tigers or lions. I would like to see one, but from a safe enough distance. People often forget these are wild animals with wild instincts we do not have which makes them very unpredictable. I always think of that poor woman who was mauled in Connecticut by a friend's pet chimpanzee (or maybe it was a baboon? some kind of large monkey). She was completely disfigured and nearly died (I watched the Oprah special about her, it was very difficult to see the damage inflicted to her face), and this animal had been a pet of her friend's for many, many years and was supposedly comfortable around her. I'll admire the animals, but from afar and give them the distance (and respect) they deserve.


Monday 22nd of April 2013

Very true.


Thursday 18th of April 2013

I'd definately pay it! Are they easy to charm?


Thursday 18th of April 2013

Hah! Not sure!


Sunday 7th of April 2013

You raise a great point about the effort and time it take to haggle over price differences that would be inconsequential back home. I appreciate that bargaining is very much a cultural/geographic matter and that, even if you don't want to, you do haggle because you don't want anyone to feel they "got one over" on a tourist. But sometimes I don't care about the extra 10 cents or 2 dollars and I just wish I could pay, see, do, and go. Maybe there's such a thing as bargain burnout?

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