What is it about snakes that so occupies our thoughts?
Why for instances, do you buy lollies in the shape of snakes and love eating them? Is this our way of having some control over our lives when (according to today’s paper) we live in a country where Australia is home to the world’s top 11 most venomous snakes?
I have found evidence online today to refute this fact called “Australia’s venomous snakes: The Modern Myth or Are you a Man or a Mouse?” Don’t you love that last bit? Here is the link to a very thought-provoking article. which says the only proof we have that Australian snakes are so venomous is based on evidence from killing mice! You might like to read it on this link: http://members.iinet.net.au/~bush/myth.html
Another interesting thing concerning snakes, is the game we loved to play as children: Snakes and Ladders. You go up the ladders and down the snakes. As if that is something we would all like to do in reality? Yes, we do go up ladders but do we ever consider that we actually COULD slide down snakes? Who would think up this sort of game? Or perhaps it is like our 82-year-old friend Shirley who keeps the wooden snakes on her Lounge Room floor to stop her fearing snakes?
Throughout history, snakes have been revered (and feared) as somewhat mystical. There are even times, when the poor snake is depicted as the Devil. If you remember in the Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ” a snake appears as the devil to tempt Jesus when he is in the garden praying about the crucifixion that is to come.
This morning a friend in America sent me a message about unwanted animals in the garden: “… it brought back a memory of a stranger in my garden, years ago, as I was opening a bedroom window, I looked down and saw a top half of a frog with a snake bottom – I was so confused, then realized it was a snake eating a frog! YUK!!!””
This reminded me of a story on the news not so long ago, when a huge python snake wrapped itself around a small boy in Brisbane trying to crush him in order to devour him; luckily some humans pulled the python off the boy in time.
Another story involved our daughter-in-law who come home one day and found a large python snake having a snooze on her bed! She went into panic and called a male neighbour (why do we always call ‘males’ for this job; is it the testosterone you need perhaps?) to come and get it. Needless to say, she took action to prevent it ever happening again!
As I mentioned yesterday on my blog, we have had many visits from snakes over the 37 years we have lived in this house but since we lost our bush and the area has become suburbia,we very rarely see snakes.
However, this was not the case in 1979 when we had not been here long and had no security screens on our sliding front doors. In the summer it gets very hot here in the sub-tropics hence the doors would be open to catch some breeze.
On this particular summer morning, my friend Rosemary, who originally hails from Yorkshire England, was visiting me with her mother in tow, on holiday from England. Rosemary and I were busy in the kitchen getting the morning tea ready and we sat ‘Mum’ on a comfortable couch beside the front door due to the heat (coming from England, she was not coping with our hot weather).
As we chatted away, clanging and banging teacups, Mum called out from her position on the couch “Rosemary, there is a strange-looking lizard looking at me at the front door!” We assured her that you do see lizards in Australia but it wouldn’t harm her. Needless to say, Mum was out of our range of vision, but knowing we have lizards here we were not unduly concerned.
The call came a SECOND time. This time, we detected a hint of panic. Rosemary was getting impatient with her mother and whispered to me: “Oh, that mother of mine, she can carry on sometimes, she can’t wait to get back to England!” So more reassurance followed.
The call came a THIRD time with loud panic present in her Yorkshire accent. “Rosemary, I half don’t like the look of this strange lizard.”
Oh no not again! Finally, to pacify Mum, Rosemary and I went out of the kitchen to where Mum was sitting.
There … raised above the doorway was the largest snake I have ever seen. Rosemary’s Mum and the snake were sitting eye-balling each other at very close range!
We reacted with such shock, that we both cried out: “Oh no, it’s a snake!” and frightened the snake and it turned around (thank goodness) and slithered into the garden nearby. We tried to calm Mum down as she realised it was NOT a lizard at all and then we gathered our wits to decide what to do. The snake continued to sit in the garden. Which of us would kill the snake?
Now by some miracle, a phone call to next door revealed that the husband had just come home. What we needed was a MAN not a MOUSE, that familiar ingredient that I wrote about yesterday: TESTOSTERONE!
Steve came with his shovel, crept up gingerly on the snake and smashed it several times on the head. It appeared to be dead. But was it? None of us were taking any chances and so we got Steve to chop up the snake into pieces and bury it in the dirt in the garden. Phew…thank God for a man when you needed one! And not a mouse.
And so the tale of the snake became a legend and whenever Rosemary and I have a chance to catch up, we laugh and remember how poor Mum nearly got attacked by a snake in my house. Apparently her mother went back to England to tell the tale to all that would listen! She never forgot how close a call she’s had! And neither did we.
Before it was chopped up, I kept imaging that snake coming back to life and doing us harm. I used to think how crazy this thinking was but it turns out, according to today’s paper, people can get bitten after the snake dies! This is what the paper said:
“The biting reflux of a snake remains intact for many hours after the snake has died. There have been many cases of poisoning from the bites of dead snakes reported by doctors in Australia, the US and elsewhere. Venom can remain toxic for a long time after the snake has died and even a scratch from a fang would be dangerous.” (The Sunday Mail, 12/2/12 p.5)
What do you make of that? My strange feeling was, after all based on fact!
So just to reassure everyone today, I will leave you with this thought from Brian Bush, the author of The Man or Mouse paper: “I often publicly comment that Australia’s snakes are the deadliest in the world if you are a MOUSE.”
Now, doesn’t that make you feel better?