Thursday, December 27, 2012

Anticipating a lively Year of the Snake

The coming new year will be the Year of the Snake, and although the Chinese new year doesn't start for a couple of months, already the reptiles are getting more attention in Asia, with pet snakes reportedly becoming more popular as well as brisk sales of other snake-themed items.

This will no doubt result in snakes getting uppity and causing more trouble than usual, but as we often observe on this blog, people are usually afraid of the wrong things when it comes to animals. No doubt you think the greatest thing to fear is snakebite, but since most snakes are not venomous, being bitten by a snake is not actually that big a deal. I've been bitten by many and my reptile keeper friends unanimously agree that we'd rather be bitten by a snake than a dog.

So it's the sneaky threats that we should pay more attention to - for instance one of the most insidious is their habit of causing electrical outages by slithering into substations and other equipment and causing short-circuits. An even more unanticipated trend is shown by a couple of cases in Australia:

- In Queensland, a mother discovered that her three year old son was raising a clutch of seven highly venomous brown snakes. He'd collected the eggs and put them in his wardrobe for safety, where they had stayed warm and hatched out.

-In Darwin, a mother snake opted for professional child care instead: her 23 babies were living inside the wall of a day care (pictured above).

What you may take away from these two stories is that snakes are targeting our innocent children. But another way to interpret this is that snakes are trying to get us to raise their young for them, so who knows what else they've got planned.

Fortunately, Australians also provide some inspiration for standing up to these creatures with whatever comes to hand:

-A radio host in Darwin who calmly improvised a solution while the rest of his family panicked:
"My son yelled out to me to call the snake catcher - but I said, 'Nah, that's for soft cocks down south'," he said.
"It must have been quite a sight to see me walking down the street in my jocks holding a 2m snake."
The Mix 104.9 broadcaster said he was dishing up dinner when his wife Vicki let out a "bloodcurdling scream" from their bedroom about 9.30pm on Sunday.
"There was this snake with its head in my wife's handbag section of the wardrobe," he said.
Mr Davies, 56, was left to wrangle the reptile alone after his 20-year-old son turned his back on the catch and went to his bedroom.

Mr Davies said he used an old crab pot to make a crook before hooking the olive python's belly and pulling it out of the wardrobe.
-And another man who reportedly bit the head off of one of those highly venomous brown snakes, although he did tell reporters he'd had a few drinks beforehand and "said he would tell his four grandchildren what happened but hopes they won’t try it themselves."

I don't recommend the latter approach either, but for their attitude if not the specifics, let's keep these inspiring examples in mind in the coming year.

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