Getting to know the neighbours
Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes
It would be remiss of me not to thank those who have phoned in over the past few years, to regale me with their observations, ideas and snake encounter stories – thank you. To the silent majority, thank you too for your neutrality, I know you’re there, but fear not, I am not one to name names and if you think your story is that ridiculous as to defy credibility, let’s have it anyway, you’ll remain anonymous. But then again, maybe you’re of the mind that “Tis better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”.
This month’s offering is a smorgasbord of short snake stories that might interest you. I’ll start with Hermione, a delightfully even tempered lady, an albino Californian King snake, who was reluctantly placed in my care some 5 years back by her owner, whose circumstances required it. Hermione has accompanied me on many educational trips into the hills and valleys, helping me teach others about snakes. Although I don’t give names to snakes, I made the exception in deference to the previous owner’s love of the animal and last week, I received an email asking after Hermione’s wellbeing. It did my heart good to be able to send off some pictures of Hermione, one reading the daily rag prior to renewing her outer skin, the old one having become a fashion no-no. Hermione continues to tread the boards with aplomb.
Whilst on the subject of shed skins, I was asked by a dear reader – I know she reads my column, she has no choice – to identify a snake from her description of a piece of discarded skin, which was rather like me asking you to identify a motor car by telling you that it had doors. But it did bring up an important (to me) aspect of snake behaviour, in that when they shed a skin, it is invariably fairly close to where they operate or live. So next time you find a skin, and it’s a biggie!!(aaaaaaarrrrrghhhhh), don’t stress because it’s more than likely to be that of a neighbour who’s been around for years – enjoying the food and accommodation on offer, without attacking you! Relax.
My last snippet is a sort of “aaah sweet” one about a young lad who has become besotted with snakes and who has been given the privilege of being able to pursue his passion, by his parents and grandparents. He was at my spot recently, chatting about the snakes, and during the various demos and tentative handling sessions, we broached the subject of standing still when in the presence of a snake. Being a young lad, he asked for proof (don’t ever think kids are stupid!) of the theory that they won’t attack you if you do so. The picture tells the story. I love it!
© pat mckrill. 2014