This was a really cool experience and one that I will never forget. If you have some free time in Weligama, Matara or Mirissa I strongly suggest venturing to the Snake Conservation Centre. The man that runs the centre brings the snakes, one at a time, out of the enclosures and performed some demonstrations.
He had three species of cobra, lots of pythons and a few vipers. We got to hold some on the non-venomous snakes and while we did he would describe what they were, what they ate and how they lived – I loved this part. He showed us how the cobras puff out there necks before attacking and how fast the vipers could move. Sooo cool!!! He also had some spiders and scorpions which he showed us and explained why they were so deathly.
How did it all start
This incredible local family have been rescuing native snakes from certain death for generations. Although the snake species change all the time he has a huge array of venomous and non-venomous snakes. This family look after the snakes for 2-3 months then release them in wildlife sanctuaries away from farms. I found the history of this Ayurveda family very interesting, for over 100 years this place has been operating and they have managed to develop a remedy to cure poisonous snake bites, treating the villagers and themselves when necessary.
This man is well known in the village and surrounding lands as the ‘snake man’, instead of killing the snakes in their rice paddy field or homes they call this man. He collects the snakes and looks after them free of charge, the only contributions he receives is that from tourist. It costs around $1000 rupees each, which when you see the amount of passion and time this man dedicates to conserving the snakes of Sri Lanka and teaching you about them, you will agree is well worth your time and money.
How to get there
To get to the Snake Conservation Centre you can either scooter there yourself (this is what we did) or you can ask a Tuk Tuk driver to take you. Getting there takes around 20-30 mins and you will feel absolutely lost BUT if you follow these directions on Google map you will find it. Don’t mistake the Snake Conservation Centre for the ‘snake farm’ what you are looking for is Horagoda Road (it’s the tiny dirt road next to the school).
Once you get in the general vicinity of his house the locals will point you in the right direction, no words needed they know the only reason tourists venture out this far is to see the Snake Conservation Centre. Do not expect a polished, extravagant zoo this is what this man does in his free time and is run out of a small shed on his property, but as I said a great way to see, touch and learn about the snakes up close and personal!!
For more things to do in Mirissa, click here.