Forsten`s cat snake is not extremely venious or deadly !!

Environment Misleading

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It is widely acknowledged that humans should exercise caution around snakes due to their potential danger. However, on social media platforms, there’s a tendency to exaggerate the venomous level of some snakes. This exaggeration often leads to disseminating alarming content that can cause unnecessary panic among the general public.

Social Media Posts

A viral video circulating in Sri Lanka depicts a snake enclosed by humans, with background voices claiming that its bite can cause death within 20 minutes. People identify the snake in the video as Forsten’s Cat Snake (Naga Mapila/Le Mapila), purportedly a highly venomous species.

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We decided to do a fact-check on this.

Fact Check

We also found that the snake is a Forsten`s Cat Snake by searching related videos and images of snakes on the Internet.

To further clarify the identification and characteristics of the snake in question, we consulted Ruchira Somaweera, a renowned herpetologist with extensive expertise in the field. Ruchira Somaweera, a Sri Lankan-born herpetologist, currently holds the position of Practice Lead for Ecology and Principal Scientist at Stantec Australia. With his profound knowledge and experience in studying reptiles, including snakes, his confirmation solidifies the identification of the snake in the viral video as Forsten’s Cat Snake (Boiga forsteni), and he further clarifies that the species has only mild venom and not severe venom as mentioned in the video.

Species(Boiga forsteni) Characteristics:

Habitat: Forsten’s Cat Snake prefers lowland forests and agricultural areas.

Behaviour: It is nocturnal and arboreal, active at night and primarily inhabits trees.

Diet: Its diet includes lizards, snakes, birds, bats, and rodents. More details can be read here

Venom and Medical Importance:

Forsten’s Cat Snake, along with other species within the genus Boiga, is considered of lesser medical importance in Sri Lanka. Their bites typically result in mild local effects such as pain and swelling at the site of the bite.

Research conducted in Sri Lanka involving seven cases of cat snake bites, including six adults and one child, revealed that five developed only mild local effects. At the same time, the two did not exhibit any symptoms. None of the cases developed systemic manifestations. The research paper can be read here

In common Sinhala terms, Forsten’s Cat Snake is known as “le mapila” or “naga mapila.”

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The claim that Forsten’s Cat Snake, depicted in the viral video, is highly venomous and can cause death within 20 minutes is false. This species is mildly venomous, and its bites typically result in only mild local effects. While it is essential to exercise caution around all wild animals, especially snakes, sensational claims about their venomous properties can cause unnecessary fear and panic.


Title:Forsten`s cat snake is not extremely venious or deadly !!

Written By: Fact Crescendo Team 

Result: Misleading

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