Those who are religious or spiritual know the ancient story. Even if we weren’t religious or deeply spiritual, we will all have heard the story at some stage of our lives. Let’s just say for argument’s sake that the story is a myth. But in the event God was in the process of creating His universe with Earth allegedly being the centre of it all. Scientifically today, we know that that’s not true, but anyway, while creating the earth God decided to create a man in his own image. Because the man appeared unable to cope well on his own, in spite of all the natural beauty, flora and fauna, that God surrounded him with, God pitied him and fashioned a woman from one of his ribs.
But this woman ran into a spot of bother. Of all the creatures on earth god placed for us to enjoy and care for, he made the lowly snake the beastly representative of his greatest nemesis, the devil himself. What did poor snakes do to deserve such accolades, or notoriety? More than likely, if I understand reptilian anatomy correctly, the snake was just minding its own business, rustling snugly under a bed of dry leaves, looking for a little something to nibble on or somewhere quiet to sleep for the afternoon. It was not, as is its nature, ever looking for trouble.
In fact, totally in tune with its nature, it does everything it possibly can to stay out of trouble. This is more so the case today as human urban environments invade and encroach on its natural living environments. One thing’s for certain, the snake does not thrive on noise. Can you imagine what all the human vibrations and those caused by humans do to the snake’s unique sense of smell, sight and hearing? We see a kaleidoscope of many beautiful colours every day of our lives. The poor snake sees red.
If he’s lucky, on a cool day, he might just see black. All these activities by humans are extremely stressful to this ancient reptilian species. The phobia around snakes, I originally thought, is perfectly understandable. There’s the myth, and I wondered sometimes whether it could have influenced why humans in general fear snakes so much. Then there’s the manner and appearance that strikes fear in the hearts of all men as the cobra or mamba stands erect and readies itself to unleash a poisonous sac of venom or quickly snap at ankles and arms with its fangs.
I really feel for those who are scared of snakes. I feel for the snakes more because they are more endangered. I’m happy that some men and women have taken such a keen interest in snakes, so much so that they’ve decided to keep them as pets. But I’m not happy about the circumstances under which they must live. In most cases, the venom is removed from the poisonous snakes so that it does no harm to anyone else living in the house. This is unfair and unnatural. For the rest of its remaining life, the poor snake must become even more docile feeding off scraps such as live mice in its cage instead of enjoying the natural exhilaration of going out to hunt for its own food.
And what about the python or boa constrictor? I’m not entirely sure what keepers of these pets do to them. And I cannot accept the fact that the closest these giant reptiles can come to enjoying their lives as they once did in nature is a gallant splash in the household’s bath. That’s no good. I understand completely that some species need to be protected and cared for, but let’s see them living in controlled environments that are as close to their original natural surroundings as possible. And let those who are knowledgeable and qualified do the job of caring and nursing and feeding, if necessary.
I’ve not addressed the matter of the human phobia for snakes. Let’s take a brief look at this to understand it better. Snake phobias, it seems to me, comes from a genetic disposition that has evolved over thousands of years. In the earliest times, man had to develop his survival instincts fairly quickly in order to survive out in the wild and built a veneer of fearlessness, or, rather, respect for the most dangerous creatures on the earth at the time. Because they are poisonous and their bite is extremely painful, snakes would have been on ancient man’s most dangerous list.
Children that are exposed to snakes from a young age without any media exposure or parental influence are likely to not be afraid of snakes. But the moment a young child inadvertently strikes the snake in a well-meaning and exploratory way, the snake is likely to strike in order to protect itself. And if the child is lucky enough to survive the snake’s poisonous bite and the inherent trauma, the memory is likely to linger long and throughout adulthood. I tried my best, I really did, under my current circumstances, but I was slightly disillusioned at the consensus I found among some psychologists.
They suggest that the best way for snakes, oh, I meant humans – you see, you see how much on the side of snakes I am, you must be thinking; what kind of a person is this – to overcome their fear of snakes is to simply confront them. Needless to say, the psychologists suggested that such a confrontation would be carried out in a controlled setting. But, here’s the thing, how about addressing the snake’s enforced fear for humanity. In the clinical environment, the captured snake really has no say in the matter as it endures cruel taunting from humans who selfishly wish to overcome psychological fears of snakes that they will never likely encounter in reality, given their urban living circumstances.
Do yourself a favour, if you really are that scared of snakes. Read, research and learn as much about the reptilian species as you can. That way you can learn to respect this legendary animal and perhaps even, grow to love them as I do.
Find out the World’s Most Venomous Snakes.