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Snake Myths

 Here are a few of the myths about snakes that are flat out wrong:

1) Snakes are slimy. Not true, in fact, people who feel a snake for the first time often make the comment that they " feel just like plastic!" Soft, smooth, and NOT slimy. They feel like a garden hose.


2) Snakes kill for fun. Wrong again. Humans are one of the few animals on earth that kill for fun. Snakes don't. They only kill to eat.

3) Venomous snakes will mate with non-venomous snakes and have babies that are venomous but look safe. NOT POSSIBLE! In the wild, mating between different species is almost never observed. But even if it were to happen, either there wouldn’t be any babies produced, or the babies wouldn’t be fertile. In the US, only 1 species of venomous snake is an egg layer: the Coral Snake. All other US venomous species are live-bearers. They cannot have offspring by mating with an egg-laying snake. Period. Not biologically possible.

4) Snakes will chase you to bite you. Not likely. Think about this: You are 100 times bigger than the snake. If someone 100 feet tall came after you, would you try to bite, or try to run?? And there are only 2 reasons for any animal to bite: if you’re food, or if you’re scaring it.

5) Snakes are all poisonous. No snakes are poisonous. (Poisons are things that must be ingested to take effect.) Some are venomous, not poisonous. Those that are venomous are still not usually aggressive, and very few live in the US that have venom.

6) Snakes won't eat dead food. Not true. Most captive snakes are fed pre-killed food. There are even some wild snakes that have been known to eat road kill.  

7) Snakes tongues are stingers. No. In fact, snakes use their tongues to smell. Their nostrils are used strictly for breathing. Their tongues pick up the "smell" of things.

8) Snakes all have fangs. Another myth. Only SOME venomous snakes have fangs. Many don't, and no non-venomous snakes have "fangs". Some do have large teeth, though, just not fangs. And their teeth do less damage than those of a dog or cat!

9) Snakes all eat bugs. Wrong. While some small snakes eat insects and such, most larger snakes eat up to 100 mice or rats per year. Would you rather have a quiet snake in your barn, or a noisy nest of disease-spreading rodents that eat your animal feed??

10) Snakes only come out at night. Not true. Some snakes ARE nocturnal, but most aren't; they are diurnal, or daytime hunters. 

Fortunately, there are other cultures in the world that value snakes, and think of them as sacred. In parts of India, for instance, snakes are viewed as a symbol of strength and are worshipped as gods. Many families keep pet snakes as a sign of their family's strength. Certain African and South American tribes view snakes not only as symbols of good luck, but also use snakes as a food source. Other cultures value snakes and have learned to appreciate their beauty and cunning hunting skills. Fear of snakes is NOT instilled at birth; we are taught it by our society from the time we are born. Young children are not afraid of snakes at all, but as they get older they hear more and more that they shouldn't like them. (This same kind of thing happens regarding schools - i.e., kids shouldn't like school…)

I hope this has cleared up some of the myths surrounding my friend, the snake. He gets more bad press than anyone else I know of, and few people are here to defend him. I think it's time we all educated ourselves to the reality of what these unusual creatures do, and what they offer our society. Unfortunately, I realize that there are people out there who will refuse to believe anything other than what they have heard all their lives. However, I will be glad to answer any questions you have about snakes, or any other reptile.


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