Why would Alcott Smith, at the time nearly seventy, affable and supposedly of sound mind, a blue-eyed veterinarian with a whittled-down woodman’s frame and lupine stamina, abruptly change his plans (and clothes) for a quiet Memorial Day dinner with his companion, Lou-Anne, and drive from his home in New Hampshire to New York State, north along the western rim of a wild lake, to a cabin on a corrugated dirt lane called Porcupine Hollow? Inside the cabin fifteen men quaffed beer, while outside a twenty-five- inch rattlesnake with a mouth full of porcupine quills idled in a homemade rabbit hutch. It was the snake that had interrupted Smith’s holiday dinner.
Excerpted from Ted Levin's America's Snake. Available from Amazon.
Because of a cascade of consequences there aren’t many left in the Northeast: timber rattlesnakes are classified as a threatened species in New York and an endangered species everywhere in New England except Maine and Rhode Island where they’re already extinct. They could be gone from New Hampshire before the next presidential primary. Among the cognoscenti it’s speculated whether timber rattlesnakes ever lived in Quebec; they definitely did in Ontario, where rattlesnakes inhabited the sedimentary shelves of the Niagara Gorge but eventually died off like so many failed honeymoons consummated in the vicinity of the falls.
That rattlesnakes still survive in the Northeast may come as a big surprise to you, but that they have such an impassioned advocate might come as an even bigger surprise. Actually, rattlesnakes have more than a few advocates, both the affiliated and the unaffiliated, and as is so often the case, this is a source of emotional and political misunderstandings, turf battles and bruised egos. Read the rest
The secretary bird looks and moves like I'd imagine a dinosaur looked and moved. Here is one giving a rubber snake the business.
From Reuters: "Scientists are studying the snake-hunting ability of the secretary bird from sub-Saharan Africa, which can kick a snake to death with a force five times its own body weight." Read the rest
A 4.5-foot copperhead snake, hidden in a tree, bit an employee at the Lowe's in in Denver, North Carolina. WPXI reports that "this could happen at any store that sells trees." Read the rest
Troy Walker of Farmington, Utah was cooking dinner for a church function when she opened a can of green beans and discovered a snake's head inside!
“As I got closer to lift it off the spoon, I saw eyes," she told 60abc.com. "That’s when I dropped it and screamed."
The manufacturer, Western Family, promised to investigate.
I'd like to remind the reader that Walker was making food for church and that a snake is a symbol of the devil. Just sayin'.
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The Minnesotastan says: "One of my prized possessions is a walking stick that was hand-carved for me by an elderly man in Kentucky when I used to live and work there. The one above was carved by a craftsman in Oregon from a single stick of wood. Here is his video documenting the process."
Mike Stinnet made this copperhead walking cane. He has an Etsy store with other wondrous carvings and paintings. Read the rest
Tim Friede, 37, has been working on a snake venom vaccine for 16 years, allowing himself to be bitten by venomous snakes nearly once a month.
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To prove his self-immunization theory works, Tim from Wisconsin, USA, recently took back-to-back bites from two of the world’s deadliest snakes – a taipan and a black mamba whose bite can kill in minutes. Unsurprisingly, his obsession with saving the tens of thousands of lives lost every year to snakebites has nearly killed him on a number of occasions and also cost him his marriage. His wife Beth Friede, 35, divorced him in October after 20 years together when she finally had enough of Tim’s snake obsession. Despite the controversial nature of his experiments Tim does have some backing from the scientific community. Dr Brian Hanley, a PhD Microbiologist from the University of California, says a test suggests Tim now has twice the number of antibodies and hopes his company Butterfly Sciences will help him develop his vaccine and find investors to get it into the field.
People in ancient Greece used snakes as projectile weapons during sea battles, explains Gianni Insacco, a zoologist/paleontologist at Italy's Insacco Museo Civico di Storia Naturale.
Insacco's research team just reported that one of the weaponized species, the Javelin Sand Boa that was likely introduced to Italy by the Greeks during wartime, has survived in Sicily after not having been spotted for nearly 100 years.
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A fellow was recording rattlesnakes when one struck the device, knocking it into a pit teeming with the serpents. More footage below:
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This snake, outfitted in plasticine finery, is ready for a slithering good time. Read the rest
Since we were kids, we've been taught that a boa constrictor wraps itself around its prey and suffocate it. A new study suggests that's incorrect. Read the rest
A venomous monocled cobra has escaped near Austin, Texas after biting and killing an 18-year-old pet store employee who was keeping it at his home. Grant Thompson was found unresponsive in a parking lot with puncture wounds on his wrist. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police found six tarantulas, a foot-long non-venomous Mexican hognose snake, and an African bullfrog in Thompson's car.
Austin Animal Services is not going to look for the snake. “It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack,” said Austin Animal Services spokeswoman Patricia Fraga.
Monocled cobras are native to South and Southeast Asia. They are highly venomous and very common in Thailand. According to Wikipedia: the "monocled cobra causes the highest fatality due to snake venom poisoning in Thailand."
Thailand Snakes has a good info page about monocled cobras, where they are described as "fierce."
Here's a video that is likely to make you respectful towards monocled cobras:
Image: Shutterstock Read the rest
The split-tailed horned viper has the head of a snake but its tail looks like a spider. This adaptation allows it to attract birds to munch on.
Nature sure is beautiful, but also as scary as fuck.
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Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, known for kidnapping hundreds of school girls, are fleeing their forest hideouts to escape "mystical bees" and "mysterious snakes" that are physical manifestations of the people they have killed. Read the rest
In the winter, tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes gather in the Narcisse Snake Pits of Manitoba, Candada to mate. Read the rest
This 18-inch Clarion Nightsnake (Hypsiglena unaocularus), found on black lava rock habitat on the island of Clarion, is darker in color than its mainland relatives and has a distinctive pattern of spots on its head and neck. The Clarion Nightsnake, which was initially discovered in the first half of the 19th century and then struck from the scientific record, was rediscovered and declared a new species by National Museum of Natural History researcher Daniel Mulcahy and a team of Mexican scientists led by ecologist Juan Martínez-Gómez in May 2014. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Mulcahy)
A science mystery, solved! After going missing for 78 years, the Clarion nightsnake (Hypsiglena ochrorhyncha unaocularus), a nocturnal snake first discovered in the 19th century, then struck from the scientific record, has been rediscovered. Read the rest
After you spent all that time in grade school conditioning yourself to know that snakes stick out their tongues in order to smell
things, it turns out that those tricksy animals were also tasting with their tongues
, all along. Read the rest