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Everybody Has A Snake Story

Monday 07 May 2018 at 10:46 pm.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for May 10, 2018, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            Everybody has a snake story. Even the Bible begins with a snake story in the third Chapter of the First Book, Genesis, when sin came into the world via the temptation of Eve by the Serpent in the Garden. This time of year, Facebook and other social media display many snake tales (and tails); some of the photos and sagas are terrifying, others are funny, exaggerated, absurd, ridiculous, and bizarre.

            While Americans tell their share of snake stories, some of the most frightening accounts come from other parts of the world. One post from National Geographic was of a 23 foot-long python that swallowed a man whole about a year ago. Another showed a 15 foot-long python wrapped around a tree in a man’s garden, just this past week. Another python story made the claim to have captured the longest python in the world, -- it was 25 feet long. Python stories come from where the huge reticulated pythons live, -- such places as Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, the Sudan, etc.

            Lots of snake stories come from Texas; after all, we Texans like to boast that everything here is the biggest and the best. Fortunately, there are no 25 foot-long rattlesnakes in our State, but some of the recent Facebook posts make them look that long. If you stand back and hold the snake on a stick toward the camera, it will appear much larger than it is.

            Why in the world would anybody do that? Well, to foster the “everything is bigger in Texas” idea in a tongue-in-cheek way, and, at the same time, scare people about the very real danger of venomous snakes coming out of hibernation in March and April. After all, there are four kinds of poisonous snakes in Texas, -- copperheads, cottonmouths (water moccasins), coral snakes, and rattlesnakes.

            Four or five of my friends have recently posted rather scary pictures of Texas Rattlers (what we Texans call the western diamond back rattlesnake). One was supposedly 9 feet long and weighed 97 pounds. Since most rattlers are 4 or 5 feet long, I’m a little skeptical of that post. Another posted a photo of what was labeled a “Bluebonnet Rattlesnake,” lying coiled amid a cluster of beautiful bluebonnets. The markings on the snake in the picture were the same color blue as the bluebonnets. Easy to add your own color to a digital photo. Rattlesnakes with markings the color of bluebonnets? Who’s kidding whom? But it does get your attention.

            My cousin, who raises and sells bait fish in his pond, posted a picture of four or five recently killed cottonmouths hanging over the fence near the pond. They were large, and they were real. I’ve seen them that large in Lee County, and they are very aggressive. Another Facebook friend posted a photo of a huge “mother” rattlesnake “nursing” about a half dozen baby snakes, commenting that it’s that time of year again when baby snakes are born. This was obviously a setup, as all of the creatures in the snapshot were very straight (no curves or wiggles), and since when was a snake a mammal? I’ll bet the one who posted it was falling over laughing about how he fooled folks!

            Yep, everybody has a snake story, whether real, fake, serious, or funny, and I’m no exception. However, I told my funny snake story several years ago in one of my Images columns, so I don’t want to repeat it here in detail. It was a story told to me by my wife, who witnessed it, and by Jose, who experienced it. I was in the backyard when this snake saga happened in the front yard, and my wife tells me I didn’t get the facts straight.

            A non-venomous colubrid snake, which we called a “coach whip” back in Dime Box, was disturbed by the weed-eater. By the way, common folklore holds that a coach whip will chase a person down, wrap the person up in his coils and whip him to death with its tail. They move fast with the front part of their body bobbing up. When the snake flew out of the flowerbed, Jose pursued him with the weed-eater, yelling to look out for the snake. At that very moment, the UPS man, thinking the snake was coming after him, dropped both of his packages and ran for his truck. Frightened, the reptile raced toward the backyard with my wife, the biology teacher, in mad pursuit. That’s the way I heard it, and that’s the way I’m telling it!

            Yes, everybody has a snake story or two, and we love to tell them!

-0-

Ray Spitzenberger is a free-lance writer and artist who lives in East Bernard with his beautiful wife Peggy and spoiled cat Gatsby.

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