The Top Ten Myths About Snakes
It would be safe to say, every child who ventured out of doors at one time or another has been warned to keep an eye pealed for one of these incredible animals, less you become another victim who fell prey to a mi-roding reptile known as the “Hoop Snake”. This extra long and muscular snake has the capabilities of forming a perfect 360 degree circle with its body while on the ground. Then it takes its tail into its mouth forming a living Hula-Hoop, Like magic, it flips up onto its side and the chase is on!
Rolling at incredible speeds dodging trees, cars and any other object in its path, the viscious Hoop Snake chases its victim down, up hills, down hills, up sets of steps, through the yard and over the neighborhood cat, nothing can stop this ancient reptile when it is on the trail of a child, their favorite prey. As a child, I looked around every corner to insure my safety against this well known snake and I guess I did a good job of avoiding it, as I never did get to see one, or meet another kid who either saw one or was chased by one. I would guess my generation was faster then the generations of past, as just about every adult who spoke of this creature was a former victim or had a relative who was scourged by a Hoop Snake. It is sad when kids grow up and realize there are no Hoop Snakes, It played a large part in most kids lives. The adults told their stories with such an intense dread in their voice and described this animal in such detail, a kid never had a chance.
There is no telling how many kids got a spanking by the originators of this tail for being late for supper or for not being on time simply because they walked slow, looking at every spot in the distance where a Hoop Snake might lay in wait for them, while on their way home. It was a very confusing time for a lot of kids in my former neighborhood, I can tell you that with all honesty. Now I realize there never was nor will there ever be a Hoop Snake and I am saddened by this mostly because of the time lost during my child hood. Can you just imagine the strength it would possess had this animal been real? To be able to flip up onto its side defies the laws of physics as does its ability to swerve in and out of trees and other objects while its eyes are looking either down or up and never seeing what Lay in its path. Well I guess I provided a few adults with a little bit of laughter as they watched me walk away looking around every corner I came to. This tale is busted, never was a Hoop Snake, never will be.
Next we have the dreaded Milk Snake who was responsible for kids acquiring brittle bone disease. As a kid, I was told to drink all of my milk because there has been an increase of Milk Snakes due to the heavy rains and there was sure to be a milk shortage fairly soon. This Milk Snake was not related to the real milk snake, a member of the King Snake family, (Lampropeltis triangulum), not at all. This snake was long and fat, all black and slipped into barns under the cloak of darkness, moving along slowly and deliberately, a cow never stood a chance. It would latch onto the cows utter and never giving a thought to the kids whose teeth were sure to fall out and then acquire brittle bones, it sucked that poor cow dry. We were told that farmers would come to the barn at day break to find dust leaving the cows utter as they attempted to milk it.
Some farmers had a bounty on this snake and would pay big bucks for every milk snake that was brought to them. I never really thought about it but can you imagine how large the milk snake must have been to consume three to four gallons of milk at a single sitting? We are talking twenty-five feet and as big around as a football. Surely a snake that large would have been easy to find but like the vampire who was able to drink six liters of blood from a single human victim, it was magic because no one ever collected the first dollar of all of the bounty’s offered for this milk thief, not one. Again sad to say the milk snake is a myth, never was one, never will be. Snakes are actually lactose intolerant and forcing a snake to drink two ounces of snake could very well cause its demise. Fooled again!
What ever happened to the new species of snake called the “Venomous Bull Snake”? This frightening animal is the product of two very amorous and very different species of snakes who happened upon one and other a short time back. The male was a Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake who came upon a Southern Pine snake, they glanced at one and other, stars were seen by both and cupid started shooting arrows everywhere and they fell madly in love with one and other. Like all married couples (back then) they had a mess of young uns. These were not ordinary young uns but snakes with half of the fathers defencive weaponry and half the mothers. Totaled up, the Bull snake as it was named was one bad animal to run across in the woods.
It had long folding fangs and huge venom glands, it was longer then its mother and father by two feet. It had cat like black eyes and its head was shaped like a coffin. This snake was naturally mean because all the other snakes would have nothing to do with it and it would bite anything it came upon from Sherie anger built up inside it. As a kid, I avoided so many field trips to the local woods for fear of running into the venomous Bull Snake. Now I realize that it had the correct name “Bull” because I learned that a rattlesnake and a pine snake have about as much of a chance of reproducing as a cat and a dog would have should they wed! Again, busted, no real bull snakes, never was never will be, again, some adults idea of making a kid look like an idiot.
Next we have the Coach whip snake, a mean and dastardly critter who would chase you down, trip you and whip the shirt right off your back, for no good reason at all, just down right meanness. A Coach whip was supposed to take one look at a child and for reasons unknown become enraged, it was a fast snake, faster then the average eight year old anyway. It would get in front of the running kid and trip him up causing him to fall and by the time the kid knew what was happening the whip snake would use its specially braided tail to flog the poor child half to death. The local hospital had a ward set up just for victims of whip Snake attack. I never met a victim but every adult I ever met knew the name of some kid unfortunate enough to cross paths with this brutal killer. The last man attacking Whip Snake was killed on the day I became an adult, what a shame I never got to warn my kids about this monster of the deep woods. They were replaced bu a kindly thin Whip Snake belonging to the family Masticophis and nip when caught but never use their braided tails to harm humans at all. Funny how things work out isn’t it.
Have you heard about the wonderful mother snake that will protect her babies at all costs to herself? This super mom snake will open her mouth as wide as possible when ever she senses danger in the immediate area and scoops all of her babies inside and scurries off to safety? What a terrific gal, this is how the southern Cottonmouth is said to protect her brood of unskilled young. The average litter of young delivered by this species is between 8 and 24 young, they average about 11 inches each, making this a real mouthful. I have meet and talked to three different people in my carrier who are adamant about witnessing such an event in the wilds of Georgia and Alabama. Want a surprise, I believe them and am sure they saw the large Cottonmouth take up some smaller ones next to her. The thing I differ with was the larger snakes motives! The larger Cottonmouth was doing what I like to call “having lunch”! Both Cottonmouths and Copperheads are members of the family Agkistrodon and one trait enamored to this family is they tend to be on the cannibalistic side and will eat members of their own species as fast as they would eat other species of snakes. Three young Cottonmouths are a mouthful and the digestive acids would kill any living entities in the throat or stomach. They are not regurgitated later unless she becomes ill and believe me, they are in no condition to crawl off. This myth is busted, never happened and never will, sorry guys.
Next is the snake with the toxic breath! one real bad individual, This snake does not have fangs nor does it have venom, its defensive weapon is its Toxic breath. It seems as though it has the capability of releasing a gaseous type of nerve paralyzing mist when it is dealing with a human who intentions are to hold it captive. It is said to puff up its body by taking in all of the air it can hold and it then faces its captor and releases this toxin directly into the face of the unsuspecting person who immediately releases the snake and then falls to the ground, paralyzed. It is said to have been the cause of a number of its victims being buried prematurely due to the death like appearance they were left in after the confrontation. A truly scary animal indeed. Sad to say this is Steven Spielberg fantasy at its best. No doubt that the breath of a snake who just swallowed a fish that had been lying on the bank of some river for a few days would be enough to knock a human down but that is as far as it could go. No such snake, never was and never will be, Busted again.
Number seven on our top ten list is the mysterious snake with the hypnotic eyes. This individual can actually put some one into a trance and render them incapable of moving or running away which means they are left to the snakes mercy! It usually happens during mid summer or so I was told when little girls went into the forest to pick berries for the families desert. While picking berries the snake would get close to the person and when the person appeared deep in thought, it would spring up in front of them. Being so terrified the snake would stair deeply into the eyes of its victim casting a spell upon that individual and controlling their mind. Some children were never heard from again. This is one scary customer to say the least, I wonder how it learned the human language? I own well over 25 snakes and I can’t get one of them to say a single word, maybe because snakes do not possess a voice box and are afflicted with poor vision at best. A good tale but no dice, a snakes eyes are not positioned to see what is directly in front of them with both eyes so the head on stair is busted. Never was and never will be, Busted.
Did you know that some snakes have stingers in their tail? This secret weapon exists and was designed to strike down any human that captured it and held its neck in such a way as to prevent the snake from biting its captor. The tail has a large quantity of thick scales at the tip which hides a sharp stinger that is connected to its venom gland by a long thin artery. The tail is pointed at the humans throat and with a mighty thrust it in beds the stinger deep into the flesh and then it releases the venom killing the human almost instantly in its tracks. Just one more reason to stay clear of snakes in the wild. There are snakes with strange looking tail tips but they have little to do with causing harm to humans. One such snake, the southern Mud snake (Farancia abacura) uses its rough tail to hold down salamanders, its favorite meal. Another snake is in fact very venomous and has taken human lives but not with its tail is the Bush Master (Laceshis muta) of South America. The tail tip of this Pit Viper is rough and is believed by most scientists the result of a rattle that started to form long ago but failed to materialize over time. The rough tail serves no useful purpose known to man at this time. There is no species of snake that possesses any type of apparatus in its tail that can be used as a weapon against any living thing, never was and never will be, Busted.
Do you know just how venomous a Western diamondback really is? Well it so happened that a few years back a wealthy man purchased a new pair of snake skin boots to set off his stylish wardrobe. He was so proud of those boots he wore them everywhere he went. One fateful day he was walking along a fence line in Western Texas inspecting his land when he came upon a seven foot long Western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). Not seeing it in time the snake struck killing the man within a few minutes. The man was found and after the funeral his children went to the house to discuss his will and visit with one and other. The oldest son asked the rest of the family if he could have the beautiful boots? They had no problem with his request and took the boots home. A few days later, the son put the boots on and walked down stairs. He stopped short of entering the kitchen, grabbed his chest and fell to the floor, dead! He was only 27, in good health, everyone was saddened by the loss of two close relatives. Again after the funeral everyone gathered and talked among themselves, all deeply saddened over the young fathers and brothers passing in such a short time. One of the friends who was at the home asked if he might possibly have the boots as he wanted something to remember his friend by. Everyone knew how close the man and their brother were and all agreed to give him the boots as a token remembrance of their brother. The very next day they were shocked to hear of the friends death! One sister exclaimed “the Boots”, it must be those $#(*&%^ boots. The woman went to his home and asked to see the boots, she inspected them as closely as any human could and on the inside of the right boot, she found a snake fang still dripping with venom. This was the fang from the snake that killed her father and now it had went on to kill her brother and a friend. Scary isn’t it? The fang of a Gaboon viper (Bitis gaboonica) is the largest fang on earth measuring two inches. That is one long fang, however even if filled with venom, there would not be enough to kill a pet dog much less three men. Another never was and never will be snake story, Busted.
Number ten, the one you have been waiting for is the tale of the vengeful snake! Several years ago a man living in Southern India was gathering wood from the nearby forest when he came upon a King Cobra sitting upon a nest caring for her eggs underneath. The Cobra was not causing him any type of harm but the man decided to kill the female snake because people often gathered wood here and they might receive a deadly bite from the snake. Slowly he crept up behind the sleeping snake and swung his sickle cutting the snakes head off with a single blow. When he turned he came face to face with the females mate, a fifteen foot long huge male cobra, he swung the sickle wildly striking the snake along the side and opening a large section of flesh, blood flowed everywhere. Injured, the snake fled into the forest. The man was so scared he ran home as fast as his legs would carry him. For weeks and then months the man was frightened the male would take revenge, his sleep was little, his nerves were shattered. After a year of living like this, he decided to move away. He left for Northern India where he lived for another eighteen years. He had long forgot the snake incident over the years and he was nearly fifty-seven years of age now. On a cold morning in early winter he reached for some fire wood to warn up his two room home. There was but a single dry log near the fire place, he dressed and went into the forest to gather wood. After about 1/2 hour of collecting wood he started for home. Crossing a trail he felt a sharp pain deep within his lower right leg. He dropped the wood and looking down he saw a large king cobra had attached itself to his leg. He jerked back quickly and the snake rolled off onto its back, it was dead. The man could feel the venom start to take effect and fell along side the snake. Just before he closed his eyes for the last time, he saw a large section of the snakes side was missing and scared over! It was the snake that he had struck eighteen years earlier. It had tracked him nearly 900 miles, over mountains and across large valleys, finally it get the revenge that had kept it alive for so long. Both were found by villagers and buried never knowing the whole story, snakes do not forget and they get even. Wow what a tale, I am never going to kill a snake, not me and I would not even think of calling this story “not true” No sir not me, no!