No money for meat, so we eat rats: The Indian snake catcher

A snake catcher earns a steady income for only half the year, but his small abode always has room for one more.

Kali demonstrates how he catches snakes
Kali demonstrates how he catches snakes [Courtesy of Kali C]
Kali demonstrates how he catches snakes [Courtesy of Kali C]

What's your money worth? A series from the front lines of the cost of living crisis, in which people who have been hit hard share their monthly expenses

Name: Kali C

Age: 43

Occupation: snake catcher

Lives with: his wife, Alamelu (38), a dog, four rabbits and a rescue mongoose. Their two daughters, Sindhu (22) and Sandya (21), stay with them during holidays.

Lives in: an 11sq-metre (120sq-foot) single-room house in Chengalpettu, Tamil Nadu, about 50km (31 miles) from Chennai in eastern India. The house has kitchen supplies stored on one side and a living area that doubles as a bedroom at night on the other. They have an independent bathroom unit and a small guest room behind their house; their daughters stay here during visits.

Monthly household income: As a contract employee with the Irula Snake Catchers Industrial Cooperative Society, Kali earns a basic salary of 19,000 rupees ($228.72) per month for seven months of the year.

In addition to this, he receives about 4,800 rupees ($57.78) per month in commission payments (paid per snake caught) from the cooperative society, which extracts venom from the snakes.

During the snake breeding season (April to August) when the government bans snake catching, Kali takes on odd jobs in farming and fishing, earning from 7,000 rupees to 10,000 rupees ($84.27 to $120.38) per month. Kali’s wife chips in by weaving baskets for additional income of a few hundred rupees.

Total expenses for the month: 22,800 rupees ($274). After making loan repayments of 8,700 rupees ($104.73), Kali spends about 14,100 rupees ($169.73) on his family’s living costs.

Source: Al Jazeera