Eight-year-old snake girl Kajol Khan incredibly calls six deadly King Cobras BEST FRIENDS – even though she’s been BITTEN three times and survived.
The little charmer isn’t like normal girls her age. Instead of playing with dolls or other kids in the park, she prefers to roll around her room with six of the world’s deadliest creatures.
And in a crazy story of survival she recently lived through a third bite on her arm thanks to her snake catcher dad. He uses traditional treatments from nearby forests to extract the venom.
“The snakes are my best friends, and I often get teased for it,” Kajol said.
“I have a lot of fun with the cobras. It hurts when they bite me but sometimes it’s my own fault because I tease them. It’s quite funny.”
Father Taj Mohammad, 55, has worked as a snake catcher in his home village, Ghatampur, in Northern India, for 45 years.
He passed on his skills to his son Gulab, 28. And now it seems Kajol, the youngest, is following in the family’s footsteps.
Her bond with the creatures – which has stemmed from crawling around them as a baby – now means they are her favourite companions.
And her future dream is to work as a snake catcher just like her father.
“I don’t like school,” she added. “I much prefer working with the snakes.”
She was even expelled from school after stuffing her slippery friends into her school backpack and taking them to class.
They slithered out and caused a hours of chaos – infuriating teachers.
Her mother Salma Bano, 45, was distraught. “I want her to go to school like other children. If I had my own way I’d get rid of the snakes but she loves them and so I don’t want to break her heart.
“She now refuses to study and will play with the snakes all day.
“I try to make her study at home but she keeps the snakes with her and gets distracted.”
Even when the snakes are hungry or irritated and start attacking, little Kajol isn’t fazed.
Since her friendship with the killers began she has been bitten on her stomach, her cheeks and most recently her arm. She was seriously ill but made a full recovery.
“It hurts when they bite me but they don’t mean it,” she said. “I get a little frightened when I see the blood but my father sorts me out. He rushes into the forest and comes back with the medicine.”
But the family refuses to share the secrets of their success.
“We help people in the area and catch the snakes that have slipped into their homes,” Taj said.
“My father is a snake catcher, his father was a snake catcher. It’s our family business and we’re very proud of what we do.”
The medicine comes from the leaves of a wild plants, which remains top secret.
It gets mashed to a pulp and mixed with butter and black pepper. It is then eaten and rubbed on the wound and villagers say it saves lives.
“If the medicine is administered quickly enough it will save you,” Taj said. “It has saved my life many times and it seems to work for Kajol too.”
Kajol is the youngest of nine children and they all live in a tiny two-room house.
Taj is now famous in his region and is nicknamed Bhura (the snake-catcher) but earns a measly 1000 INR / £14 GBP a job for catching the snakes from houses and shops in the area.
Taj said: “We don’t have many visitors. People don’t like our pet snakes so they stay away. We don’t mind so much, but it’s sad for Kajol. Children are too scared to come round and play with her. She’s just not like other children.”
So Kajol only has her beloved snakes to turn to. Even when she ventures outside of her house and walks down the street she drapes them across her neck and people start running.
Her worried mother said: “She’ll find it hard to find a husband in the future if she doesn’t stop playing with the snakes. Children from the neighbourhood don’t want to play with her and our relatives think what Kajol is crazy.”
The local priest, Kapil Dev, 50, is highly thankful to the family for their bravery and for clearing his temple of the slithering snakes.
“This is the only family that protects us from these snakes,” he said. “Life here would be very difficult without them.
But it seems the locals are still very concerned for the safety of little Kajol.
Dr Manish Sachin, from the local hospital, is amazed by Kajol’s ability to recover from three snake bites.
He said: “I think she’s been bitten so many times that some of the venom remains in her body and acts as some kind of antibody. It’s the only explanation.”