09.18/Reptiles

Featured for September: Snakes and things

I don’t like snakes.

There. I’ve said it.

I don’t necessarily have a fear of snakes. Let’s just say I have a healthy respect for a snake’s personal space and would prefer that snakes maintain a similar respect for my space. It’s not necessarily a phobia (I’m not an ophidiophobe). I’m OK if I know I’m going to see a snake, like at a zoo or if someone shows me one in the grass or water. I enjoy watching those. But when I discover a snake under my foot when I’m mid stride or I find one in a bush or high grass when I’m doing something else it gives me the willies.

I know most snakes are harmless. The chance of encountering a venomous snake in Central Ohio, where I spend much of the year, is about the same as getting hit by lightning while discovering a winning lottery ticket while getting a hole in one in the middle of bowling a 300 game. It’s a bit different during our time in Florida, where the odds of seeing a venomous snake is about the same as the odds of seeing sunshine. And that doesn’t include the Burmese python now found in south Florida, a monster of a nonvenomous snake that eats mammals, has devoured full-grown deer in Florida and has eaten two humans in Indonesia in the last year.

But I don’t wait for an identification when I see a snake. I still react to every snake as if it was a copper-mouthed water rattler that is extremely venomous and has a personal vendetta against me.

I guess I come by it naturally. My mother had an extreme fear of snakes and anything that could possibly be mistaken for a snake, like a belt on the floor, a hose or stick in the grass or a broken fan belt on the side of the road. 

We have numerous “remember the time” snake stories about mom. Like, remember the time we were in the reptile building (yes, we dragged mom into the snake house) at Cincinnati Zoo? Dad, after seeing one glass snake enclosure was empty and the back door was open, said “that snake must have escaped.” Mom stepped backwards, hit her foot against a hose being used to fill an alligator pit in the middle of the building and let loose a shriek that brought activities to a halt for miles. Or remember the time I was in my bedroom reading when mom ran screaming up the stairs and past my door, followed by the dog. I heard them both jump on her bed before mom ran screaming back past my door and down the stairs, again followed by the dog. I thought that was a bit unusual, even for our family, so I went downstairs to check. I found mom passed out on the floor, straddled by the dog who was wagging his tail and shaking a rubber snake he had found outside. Or remember the time …

I’m fine with other reptiles, like lizards, turtles or alligators (although I do give alligators plenty of space for obvious reasons). And despite what the 1974 Jim Stafford song stated, I don’t have a problem with spiders. Spiders are cool.

I’ll still take a photo when I see a snake on one of my photo hikes. But I prefer those photos be taken at a distance. 

This gallery includes a number of photos of reptiles I’ve encountered during photo hikes. I’m pretty sure I have the snakes properly identified, although I don’t have a photo of a copper-mouthed water rattler. I haven’t attempted to identify the different species of turtles. And an alligator is an alligator.

I add a new featured gallery the first of each month. The numbers in the gallery title represent the month and year it was featured.  Previous featured galleries are in the archives.

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