When you hear someone mention snakes, you probably think of the slithery, legless lizards. Most people have this idea that snakes are out to make lives difficult for humans and intentionally attack them. This is not true, and I'm here to debunk myths and get rid of the negative stigma surrounding these beautiful reptiles.
What good are they?
So, chances are that sometime during your life you have come across a snake, either at a zoo or in the wild. If you encounter a snake in the wild, what should you do? Simple, leave it alone and go about your day. That snake is minding its own business, catching some sun, or looking for its next meal. There have been times where people see snakes in their gardens, see them as pests, and kill them. Yet, they seem to forget that snakes eat the rodents that go after gardens, be it rabbits, rats or mice. Killing snakes just gives the rodents fewer obstacles to destroy your vegetables.
They actually make great pets.
You know, depending on the type you get. Constrictor types, such as the pythons and boas, make great pets due to their docile nature. Plus, it's always amusing seeing someone's reaction when you tell them you own a snake or two. You will always hear the same things, "Gross, don't they eat live food? How can you do that?" or "Aren't you afraid it will escape and eat the neighborhood pets?" Yes, they do eat live food, that's called nature. No, they don't always want to escape and eat pets. As long as they are kept well fed and the tanks locked, you will have a happy snake.
Gross! They are slimy and cold!
This is a popular myth, snakes are NOT slimy. They are actually soft, and somewhat dry. Personally, everyone should touch a snake at one point to help get rid of this myth altogether. As for the cold part, well they are reptiles and are naturally cold blooded. Much like lizards, they need a source of heat to keep them alive and active. Take away the heat, the snake will be very lethargic and if left without heat for too long, could die. A cold snake is a sad snake, so keep them nice and warm.
Snakes are evil!
OK, this one I personally do not like at all. Snakes are not evil, just misunderstood. Granted, some of the more deadly ones look angry all the time, but they don't go out of their way to kill people. Instead, snakes tend to flee when they sense someone near. They only attack if bothered, like all creatures. This is the fight or flight instinct, if they are cornered or bothered, they may attack. Respect snakes and they will leave you be and go on their slithery way. Some places actually view snakes as sacred and worship them, one popular place for this being India. Ancient Egyptians also worshiped snakes, as they were associated with some of their deities, including the sun God, Ra.
If you live in Florida, then you know all about the invasive snakes that live in the Everglades. This is mainly due to irresponsible owners who release the snakes when they get too big. This is a huge no! Do not do this! These snakes reproduce, eat native wildlife, and are eventually hunted and killed. If you can no longer take care of a snake, find a rescue to take them. Do not mindlessly dump them in the wild. Florida has its share of native snake species, yet the boa constrictors and reticulated pythons are not part of that. These species can grow upwards to 10ft or more, and cause a lot of damage to ecosystems. Due to this, Florida Fish and Wildlife has issued out yearly hunts for these snakes, with possible rewards for the larger ones caught.
Let us recap!
So what did you learn? Anything new? I hope so, and I also hope this opened your eyes about snakes, and what they are truly like. They mean us no harm, and help keep rodent populations under control. Get rid of snakes, then rats and mice will increase. They are beautiful, misunderstood creatures that only wish to be respected and live their lives. Most live to well past the age of 30, some have shorter lifespans.
If you choose to bring a snake into your life, do your research. Search different breeds, what it takes to keep one, feeding schedules, all that fun stuff. As the proud owner of two ball pythons, I recommend getting a snake to anyone who is ready and willing to put in the time and effort for them.