Snakes, in General, and
Sneaky Snakes, in Particular
Judy Gore, bless her little newbie heart. innocently started the recent sneaky snake discussion at Southern Humorists,
"Okay, I was sold on the South until this morning when I started some serious gardening, pruning, and general backbreaking work. I moved a rotted stump and reached down to show my grandson what I thought, in my naive northern brain, was an angleworm. As I talked and reached further into the hole I'd created, the angleworm coiled. Strange behavior for a worm. Kinda long too. Damn! Look at the size of that angleworm's head."
"Wait a minute, angleworms don't have heads. A baby Rattler!"
"Before I could process all the information, my hand was out of the hole and taking the rest of my body with it across the yard. Of course I tripped and landed face first, full body sprawl less than two inches from a fire ant hill. So stunned by all the adrenaline flow, my body couldn't decide whether it wanted to move my arms or legs first to escape the hill."
"In the end, it decided to roll. I rolled away from the baby rattlers and the anthill to land at my toddler grandson’s feet. He giggled and sprayed me with the garden hose he was playing with."
Pamela "Dragon" Klein, ever vigilant when it comes to environmental issues, injected:
"Well, you just proved my thesis
for me; people are far more likely to injure themselves panicking at the sight
of a snake that they are to actually be hurt by the snake."
Cowboy Mark Berryman, who knows his snakes (We didn’t ask why.) replied:
"It could have been a pigmy rattler and not a baby. They are much more common in yards and stuff than their larger kin, the diamondback, the canebreak rattler and the timber rattler."
But Pamela Dragon replied: "Even a pigmy rattler is pretty big! If I saw an earthworm the size of a pigmy rattler I would think it was one of those Tremors critters!"
Judy Gore, still a bit shaken from her close encounter of the reptilian kind, chattered: "Yikes! Pygmy rattlers. What was God thinking when he made those? Make them cuter, therefore, more accepted. What other wonderful creatures will I encounter over the summer?"
"Judy," Pamela replied, "if you are new to the South you should get a book on snake identification. There are only a few potentially dangerous snakes in Louisiana and most of them you are unlikely to ever meet up with unless you are fond of swamps and wild places…"
Ben Baker, who shoots and cooks almost anything with legs or without, offered his free advice and recipe:
"Rattler, when cooked properly, is
delightful. It's also the whitest meat you'll ever see."
"Good idea! So if it don't taste like yard bird, does it taste like alligator? I would imagine this is best served with a side salad and cornbread?
Phil Jones, obviously speaking from
personal experience, replied, "Tastes
The snake tales were getting bigger and wilder when Mike Bay got into the conversation:
used to work in a location that was over-slithered with the things, primarily
prairie rattlers (up to 5' specimens), and one memorable encounter with a
western diamond back (over 6'). Using low impact removal devices (snake clamps)
in environmentally restrictive locations (indoors) and a unilateral removal
device (.357) in environmentally flexible locations (outdoors) to achieve a
return to tranquility in nature (a.k.a., stopping the panic amongst the humans
of the persuasion when confronted by a serpent). I am 17-0 in kills, and still
have six of the rattles as trophies."
"I'll tell you how to cook a dang snake. Hit multiple times with hoe and shovel and burn the blasted thing. Questions?"
Judy timidly raised her hand and asked,
"Over an open pit, or in my stove?"
"We basically have 4 poisonous
snakes in the US, not counting Sen. Joseph Biden, rattler, moccasin, coral and
copperhead. Of them, Josep... er, sorry, the coral is the most poisonous, and is
therefore the snake I personally stomped to death while barefoot and in shorts
in Athens when I was four."
"Yep, that is about the size of
it, except that the pretty little coral snake is not aggressive and has to chew
on you to get the venom in. In Florida, there is always one neighbor who sees
coral snakes under every rock and palm frond and goes about shouting the
…The Pacific Rim also has a
tremendous nuisance called the brown tree snake. In many travels all over the
pacific, I have encountered these fearless mongrels as they slide through the
racks where Marine after sleeping Marine reacted in a fashion consistent with a
saying my WWII Marine father used to use. For the first time in my life I
finally understood what it was for grown men to "pee straight up."
Tempa Worsham figured she might as well tell her brown tree snake story while they were still in demand:
"When we were stationed on Guam, family and friends kept calling and asking if we were being over run by the brown tree snake. There had been documentaries and 20/20 stories about them stateside. I had to admit that I had not seen one in two years, but that I did enjoy a particular tail, oops I mean tale about one.
You see, there was the base commander's wife whose name was Jane. She walked in the morning for exercise. One tropical morning while walking by a base house she noticed the "worker guys" all scrambling and loading tools into their vehicles claiming their work was done. It was only 8:00 am. When she inquired about what the trouble was one of the "worker guys" or what most people would call "roofers" loudly exclaimed, "Brown tree snake!"
At 5'4 and maybe 120 lbs., Jane asked,
"Where?" They pointed towards a typhoon shutter hanging half open from
a window. She walked over, poked around, then returned carrying the snake. The
big burly guys all screamed and quickly dispersed again. She casually walked to
the curb, windmilled the snake a few times, then popped its head on the edge of
the curb. As the guys gasped in disbelief, she tossed the snake in the road and
said, "now that is taken care of, it's
There were several neighbor eyewitnesses accounts to this. In good cordial southern humor, every time I saw her I addressed her as Indiana Jane. However, I had to ask directly, "weren't you a little scared?"
"No," she snapped, "I wasn't going to let men waste a perfectly decent work day over a silly snake, so I took care of it." Now that is woman!!!"
And that took care of the snake
stories, speaking of wasting a perfectly good day.
Copyright 2005 Southern Humorists