Snake Myths And Facts

African people believe that an angry snake will chase you, the Black Mamba are the 'angriest' snake of all and lots of myths surround this poor beauty. They are however lightning fast when startled and sometimes it happens that the human and snake choose the same escape route. Of course it will feel as if the snake are chasing you and a bystander watching will think exactly the same thing. The snake see the human as a predator and their first instinct is usually to flee, they will only strike if they cant escape. This myth has kept many African snakes alive!

The Central American bushmaster (Lachesis muta muta) is enormous and lethally venomous and it is well-known that they 'chase' humans. Panama's tourism department warns tourists about this aggressive snake.

Some members of the genera Pituophis and Agkistrodon are extremely aggressive, they hiss, lunge and strike even after the intruder has moved away, this are also seen as 'chasing'.

Myth: There Are No Snakes That Mother Their Young.

It was long believed that the African Rock Python protects her eggs and that her parental care stops after they have hatched. Recent discoveries proof that the female keeps her young near her and protects them for more than four months after they have hatched. Few birds of prey or monitors dare to approach the hatchlings while they lay close to the 17 foot long mother. Field research herpetologists speculate the warmth absorbed by the mother python during the day helps to sustain the young snakes' high body temperatures as she coils around them at night.

Myth: Snakes are Slimy.

Snakes have a shiny look to them and therefore give the impression that their scales must be slimy, this is of course false. Their scales are dry and smooth and feels silky.

Myth: Rattlesnakes Always Rattle Before They Strike.

The snake picks up the vibration of large animals and then rattle to warn them of its presence, this rattling sound can be heard meters away especially from an older snake. It does happen that a person come across a rattlesnake that did not feel the vibration and when the human are too close the snake will strike without giving any warning.

Myth: A Rattlesnake Add a Rattle Each Year

Rattlesnakes add a rattle each time they shed, and they can shed several times a year. Also, an individual may lose rattles as they break off. Therefore, counting rattles is not at all a way to tell a rattlesnake's age.

Myth: Snakes do not carry Salmonella

Snakes do carry Salmonella and it is important that you always wash your hands with an antibacterial soap after handling.

Myth: Some Snakes Can Sting With Their Tails.

Rural people believe the Copperhead's tail is a sign of a venomous sting because it is a vibrant yellow/green colour. The Copperhead uses its tail as a lure, they wiggle it around so that it resembles a struggling worm. When a hungry frog or toad duped by the wriggling tail moves in for the kill, the young copperhead strikes, making a meal of the unfortunate amphibian.

The Eastern Mud Snake found throughout the swamps and wetlands of the South-east coast has a sharply pointed tail. They hold the tail in the air and curls the tip into an aggressive looking spear as a defence mechanism. This behaviour has earned them the name "horn snake," "stinging snake" and even "scorpion snake."

Myth: Snakes can hypnotize a human with their eyes.

Due to the snake not having any eyelids their stare might look hypnotizing but has no effect on humans.

Myth: Snakes Will Go Blind During the Heat of Summer.

A snakes eyes go a milky gray-blue colour when they are close to shedding their skin. Their ability to see is minimum during this time due to the protective scales that covers the eyes and begin to separate from the new ones that are developing underneath. In the wild snakes usually enters a shed during summer and people who encountered them thought that the heat blinded them.

Myth: Female Snakes Protect Their New Born Snakes Inside Her Mouth.

When the female give birth to live young it drains her physically and it there are some snakes that are stillborn or are too weak to break free of their placental sac then the mother will eat them. If a person had to walk past and see this they may think that the snake are protecting the young instead of eating them. North American water snakes, Cottonmouths, Copperheads and especially the South American anacondas are known to eat stillborn young or those otherwise unable to survive soon after birth.

Myth: Baby Venomous Snakes Are More Dangerous Than Adults.

Adults have far more virulent venom than the young snakes and an adult snake is capable of delivering a much larger venom dose than a smaller snake. However adults conserve their precious venom because they know it takes time to produce it and a snake without venom is a hungry snake. Young venomous snakes are generally not in full control of their muscular functions and they are at their most vulnerable point in life. Defensive strikes are fast and thorough. When these snakes bite, they typically bite hard, pumping the attacker full of every last bit of venom. If a young venomous snake's bite were to be more dangerous than an adult's, this would be the only way.

Myth: Milksnakes Drink Milk From Farmers Cows

This is a popular one in the rural areas which Milksnakes live. Milksnakes do not consume milk, they eat the same as lots of colubrids. Smaller rodents.
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