In the Bible, it is written ‘Now these are to you the unclean among the swarming things which swarm on the earth: the mole, and the mouse, and the great lizard in its kinds. ” Furthermore it is said that ‘These [including the snake] are to you the unclean among all the swarming things; whoever touches them when they [the ‘swarming things’] are dead becomes unclean until evening (Leviticus 11:29 and 31). Thus many, across cultures and different religions, have equated the snake as well, with sin, pestilence and devils and demons. No wonder many of us fear the snake.
Indeed the snake is fearsome for its lethal capacity given its venom and all. But how fair is it to say ‘Just be gone with this creature’? How many of us have taken this beautiful creature for granted? Or better yet, see how many of us will respond to the presence of a snake the way the young man in the following story reacted: (www. australianexplorer. com) Quite some years ago I was visiting friends in a lovely seaside spot (well very near the sea) called Pottsville in New South Wales. An appropriate name it seemed at the time. My friends had an English friend staying with them also.
His name was Nigel. My friends’ house was a rather dilapidated old weatherboard house with natural air-conditioning, i. e. , lots of holes. Nigel decided to have a bath in the rather primitive and “holey” bathroom. We could hear him singing happily away. Next minute there was a shriek ARRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! We heard the bathroom door slam and saw Nigel making for the woodheap, nude. He went behind the woodheap and next thing we heard was thump, thump, thump coming from the bathroom along with cries of “I got you, you b…… I got you… “
We all thought it might be a good idea to go and see what was bothering Nigel. Imagine our horror to see Nigel, axe in hand, standing triumphantly astraddle a very large snake cut into several large pieces. We were horrified because the snake was “Bob”, our friends’ pet ratter, a rather sweet and lugubrious carpet python of nearly 2 meters in length who had a penchant for curling up at the bottom of my friends’ bed. Nigel explained, somewhat incoherently, that the snake had fallen out of the roof into the bath with him. “What would you have done? ” he asked us.
Yes, what would you have done in such a situation? We reckon that many would not pity the snake in this story and would quickly empathize with the man. If that is so, then there is a need to take a better look at the serpent, this reptilian that forsook its legs. If you said yes, consider the brief points raised here. We do not only have life in this small planet, but a web of life. That web wobbles and stretches in space-time as the existence of millions and millions of species hang in a precarious balance, all nurtured by one resource: the planet Earth.
Various flora (that’s plant life), mammals (that’s includes us humans), birds, fishes, insects and, of course, snakes and reptiles — all life — are interconnected. That is why scientists have raised the specter of extinction of many species of flora and fauna. If we wipe out other species, like that of the snake, we will create a significant imbalance in the ecology and create a whole in the so-called web of life that could eventually destroy it, decimating us, humans, as well.
Snakes and the other so-called “ugly creatures” have become a worldwide concern especially in congested habitats where human and snake populations overlap in certain territories (Firth, Sheikh-Miller, and Woodcock, 2001). Exploitation of natural snake habitats are further forcing the two species to live together and now with the human population expected to double within the next 40 years, both snakes and humans will greatly be affected as human needs world grow exponentially as well (Ricciuti, 2001). . Well, humans and snakes can live well together.
There is no doubt. Early societies have shown this. For instance, there is evidence that the early North American people have manipulated their surroundings in such a way that snake and human habitats overlap. Eyewitness accounts from the early European explorers, trappers, soldiers and missionaries affirmed that prior to their settlement in the wilderness native Indians even consume some snake species (Nagda, 2002). This is not unique to the Americas and the relationship is not only about one serving as gastronomical delight for the other.
Around the world, nature has provided humans with all the resources needed in order for both humans and snakes to survive. In this arrangement throughout history, the snake has been a food source, habitat balancer (being a natural predator of smaller animals), source of unique proteins for medical use, as pets (as in our story here), as symbols for religious practice, as source of sophisticated raw materials for clothing, footwear and accessories, and then, of course, snakes are also popular subjects for art and photography. (Firth et al. , 2001)
Given all these, unfortunately, snake hunting, poaching, and especially indiscriminate killing continues (Mattison, 1992). Humans, why kill wantonly? Why be unduly afraid? References Graham, B. (2008). Murder by serpents. The mystery quilt, p. 439. Mattison, C. (1992). A-Z of snake keeping, p. 143; (1992) Keeping and breeding snakes. p. 132 and 183. Nagda, A. W. (2002). Snake charmer, Vol. 1. Ricciuti, E. R. (2001). The snake almanac, 192: 116. Sheikh-Miller, J. , & Woodcock, J. (2001). Snakes. Usborne discovery, p. 63. Travel stories. Retrieved 10 May 2008, from http://www. australianexplorer. com/ forum/stories/128. htm