Monday, March 3, 2014

Snakes too close for comfort

Snakes have been in the news lately. A snake-handling preacher's TV career came to an abrupt end when he died of a bite, and the Internet has seemed rather impressed by a snake that ate a crocodile in Australia.

These stories probably don't concern you, since you have the sense not to handle venomous snakes and to stay away from Australia where all of nature is trying to kill you - or at least stay indoors if you can't help living there. And you probably think if you leave snakes alone they'll leave you alone. Kind of hard to apply this advice, though, when they show up in your toilet.

In Mumbai, a woman had just used the toilet when she realized that everything in the bathroom was out of place, with toiletries fallen to the floor. She called her husband.
He suddenly heard the sound of water being displaced in the toilet bowl and before he could inspect it, the 6-foot cobra stuck its head out, much to the family's horror.
It took nearly two hours for experts to remove the snake from the pipes and take it away to be released, but for the family, it's not over, says the man.
"Now every time we want to use the toilet, we will inadvertently think about this incident."
And in Australia, even staying indoors doesn't help. When one Queensland man saw a snake in this toilet, he took it more calmly – after poking it and decided it was dead, he flushed it down and went about his business. Two days later he found he was wrong
"My partner came home to find the snake back and it was alive," he said. "Let's just say there were a few expletives."
Perhaps it's no wonder that the guy kept a cooler head than the family in the last story. While that Mumbai neighborhood is near a nature preserve, apparently snakes rarely come into buildings. Not so their relatives down under:
Snake catcher Bryan Robinson said toilet encounters were not uncommon. The Ipswich and western Brisbane business relocates at least one snake from toilet a month.
And it turns out that even staying far from the entire country of Australia might not help, as a woman in Sweden learned. She found an escaped pet snake on the floor of her apartment, and before authorities arrived, it had hidden inside her stereo loudspeakers.
"The woman was terrified for real, but we were not scared, we never are," Södermalm police told The Local.

In the end, the officers turned to the animal park for advice. Zookeepers suggested putting the entire speaker in a large bag and delivering the package to the park, and the police did as they were told.
Not only were the police unmoved, the director of the local aquarium that took the snake said that locals have little to worry about:

Any snake-fearing Stockholmers, however, have little to worry about. Wahlström explained that such cases only crop up once or twice a year.
I know that's supposed to be comforting, but you know what kind of snake that was? An Australian carpet python. Even Sweden isn't far enough away from Australia to get away from their snakes?

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