C. Scott Anderson
June 3, 2013
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Ophidiophobia (o-fid-de-o-fo-be-ah) is the fear of
Many, if not most, people have it. You donít find to
many people rushing to embrace snakes, and those who
do are generally viewed as weird.
Everyone seems to have
had an encounter of some kind with a snake.
years, I have heard many snake stories. Some were
believable, some were not so believable, and some were
Like the one about the duck hunters, who
were out in a river on the edge of an island and had tied
their boat to a tree which hung out over the water while
they patiently waited for the ducks to fly over. Suddenly, a
water moccasin dropped into the boat from an overhead
branch and, without thinking, one of the hunters blasted
the snake with his shotgun. While this did indeed dispatch
the snake, it also put a sizable hole in the bottom of the
boat causing it to sink in the apparently snake infested
waters. (water moccasins would not be out during duck
Or the one about the hapless water skier
who was skiing down the river when he fell off of his skiís
and unfortunately landed right in the middle of a den of
snakes. (while some snakes do live near water, they do not
live in the middle of a river)
When it comes to snakes, we
are very fortunate here in the USA. We do not have any of
the really terrible snakes found elsewhere in the world.
donít have any boomslangís, or kraitís, or mambaís, or
taipanís, or puff adders. To be among the really terrible
snakes, if you so desired, you would have to go to Africa,
We only have four snake species that we have
to be aware of when we venture outside. They are the
rattlesnake, the copperhead, the water moccasin, and in a
very small area of the country, the deep south, the coral
snake, although problems with coral snakes are few and
far between. (WHY?)
Many people seem to think that a
snake bite equals death. Not so. At least, not in the USA.
In fact, if a healthy adult is bitten by either of these four
species, death is highly unlikely, if medical attention is
But if you are bitten by a Black Mamba, you may as
well just sit down, relax, and prepare to die as peacefully
as possible. It wonít take long, only about twenty minutes.
In some cases, death from snakebite in the USA, does not
occur even when medical attention is not sought.
Rattlesnakes and copperheads are commonly handled
during so-called religious services in Appalachia and other
parts of the country.
Somewhere in the bible, it says
something like, ďand ye shall take up serpents.Ē
the information required by some religious
fundamentalistís to bring a bunch of venomous snakes
into church and start passing them around.
members of the congregation actually pick up multiple
numbers of snakes at a time in an effort to demonstrate
their faith. (apparently, the female church members are to
intelligent for this sort of thing).
During the snake handling portion of the worship service,
the snake handlers are singing and dancing and, in some
cases, waving the snakes around in the air. While this
might feel good to the man who is doing it, it does not
necessarily feel good to the snake, and on occasion,
though less often than one would think, the snake strikes.
When the snake strikes, the ďvictimĒ who has been struck
drops all of the snakes in his hands, (thus creating
somewhat of a problem for those nearby), and issues
notice that he has been bitten, as in ďhe has done bit me,
Billy Ray Jim BobĒ (at this point, the reader may mistakenly
believe this verbal notification to have been directed to
four separate individuals, but in reality, only one person
has actually been notified).
The victim, or snake abuser,
take your pick, is then helped out of church, though not, it
is said, to a medical facility. When bitten by a snake in
church, medical help is always refused. To seek medical
attention would demonstrate a rather pronounced lack of
The congregation then begins to pray for the snake
struck believer or would that be the struck snake believer.
And then, a curious phenomenon occurs. Itís really a
win/win situation for the man who has been bitten.
lives, it is said that he:
1. is well liked by God, and
therefore God allowed him to live.
2. that he survived
because of the prayers of the congregation.
3. that it just
wasnít his time to go.
If he dies, it is simply said that: God
called him home. (God, apparently, used the snake as his
So, he wins if he lives, and he wins if
What is the number one snake to watch
out for in the USA? By far, it is either the Eastern
Diamondback Rattlesnake or his very close relative the
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. An adult can be six
feet in length. As if that were not enough, it is a big snake
with a thick body and good venom toxicity. Even so, being
bitten by one of these snakes is not usually a death
sentence for a healthy adult.
You probably remember from
biology class that snakes are a vital part of the ecosystem.
They are natural predators of disease carrying rodents and
there are a helluva lot more rodents than there are snakes.
And then too, you have probably read or heard certain
facts like, more people are killed each year by lightning
than by snakes.
Basically, all you have to do to protect
yourself from snakebite is watch where you place your
hands. Most snake bites are on the hand or lower arm.
Probably no animal is more exploited than the snake.
Snakes are often killed merely because they are discovered
or seen. It seems that suddenly coming upon a snake, or
seeing a snake, is shocking to many people.
I have been in
the woods with people when a snake has been spotted.
Cries and even screams are issued forth in reaction to
seeing the snake, even though the snake cannot hear
them, is some distance away, and posing no threat. Some
people react as if the snake should not be present to ruin
their outing in the forest. And yet, it is we who are in the
snakeís habitat, not the other way around. Why should we
be shocked or surprised to see an animal in itís natural
Have you heard of snake round ups? They occur
each and every year in the spring. They are often
sponsored by so-called civic organizations in an effort to
rid the land of dangerous critters.
Of course, these do-
gooder organizations have gotten it exactly ass-
backwards. What they ought to be sponsoring is a Rat
Roundup instead of a snake roundup. Rats do infinitely
more harm to man than snakes. A termite round up would
be beneficial too.
But then, how many people would
purchase a mounted skull of a rat under glass? A rat belt?
A rat sandwich? Fried rat stew? A rat necklace? A rat-skin
wallet? Rat-skin boots? And a host of other products, all of
which and more, are produced from slaughtered snakes.
Snake round ups are held in more states than you would
think. Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, and Oklahoma to
name a few.
If these roundups involved any other animal,
there would be a massive public outcry.
A deer roundup,
(which is, actually, sorely needed), a raccoon roundup, a
chipmunk roundup, a squirrel roundup, a rabbit roundup
All of these actions would elicit a public response on a
grand scale. Demonstrations would be organized, people
would be marching in the streets, elected officials would
denounce the roundups as cruelty. Parents would teach
their children to never participate in such activities.
But there are few complaints about a snake roundup.
Ophidiophobia strikes (no pun intended) again.
snakes, as they have been taught to since childhood by
ignorant adults, so they have no objection to a snake
roundup, ie. a snake slaughter.
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