MORE SNAKE STORIES AND IMAGES:
OR, HAVE YOU HAD YOUR 2011 SNAKE ENCOUNTER YET?
"No matter what sort of city or suburb you live in, there's probably a big python or boa living within one mile of you." -- Comment by a neighbor who owns a python but who wishes to remain anonymous.
"Can you guess why there are photos of Leonardo Di Caprio, Angelina Jolie, and even Betty White and Pope Benedict on this website?" -- A really easy, almost rhetorical, question from the author of this website.
"O'Rourke, you're a little weird. Who cares about your damn snakes?" -- Comment by a very outspoken Internet friend.
"The one thing I'm certain about after all my snake research is that nowadays people are meeting up with snakes more often than ever before." -- Warren F. O'Rourke.
Warren F. O'Rourke
Last edited on December 1, 2011
This website was started in September of 2011. The most active month so far has been October of 2011. My Internet Service Provider, "Tripod," reports to me that during that period 3,673 people requested info on snakes,and that 2,258 people logged on to this or one of my other snake websites. Jeez! I hope my arrogance doesn't turn into hubris.
Visitors so far: 401
(To visit my main website, MISTERO'S ENGLISH WEBSITE, please click on this link.)
(To visit my website AN INFORMAL STUDY OF SNAKE ART AND IMAGERY, please click on this link.)
(To visit my website ALLIGATOR ENCOUNTERS IN FLORIDA: BUT ALSO IN UNEXPECTED PLACES. . ., please click on this link.)
(To visit my other websites, please click on this link.)
Here you can view sites about the Civil War, about Indians named O'Rourke, about the era of the War of 1812, and many other non-snake topics.
Dear Gentle Readers,
Encounters with snakes of all sorts are becoming an almost daily occurence. More and more frequently, people all over the place are coming in contact with snakes. And all sorts of snake-related news stories are appearing in newspapers, magazines, and especially on the Internet.
Some of these encounters are accidental, but many other encounters with snakes are deliberate. It may be that people are encroaching more and more on snake habitats, but it is also true that more and more people think it's cool to keep snakes as pets.
Also, the world is full of fools who try to catch or kill snakes encountered in the wild. Over half the snakebites in the U.S. happen to white males between 18 and 28. Many of those idiots were drunk or stoned when they tried to encounter a snake.
Have you had any recent snake encounters? If you haven't yet, the odds are getting better all the time that you soon will. I've been following snake stories for about three years, and it seems to me that snake encounters are becoming more frequent all over the world.
This website is a summary of snake-related news stories going from the present back to September of 2011 and seems to indicate that human-snake encounters are extremely common nowadays.
By the way, all the images in this website are ones that you probably haven't seen before.
Also, all the stories originating in Alabama are highlighted in a bold green font.
You may want to save this site in your favorites and return to it from time to time. I keep adding new photos and stories every few days.
Finally, if you have had a recent snake encounter, send me an e-mail about it at email@example.com. I'd love to add your story to this website. Also, if you spot any factual or typographical errors or if I have managed to irritate your sensibilities, please let me know by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Them Burmies is still in the 'Glades!"
Attention: O'Rourke and Martin relatives in Nebraska and South Dakota (and anybody else who
is interested)! Click here for the snake you are soon likely to see in your back yard.
Update on November 26, 2011: This two-headed snake is for sale to the highest bidder.
It is expected to sell for at least $18,000. Do you plan to bid on this creature?
November 30, 2011 (Key Largo, Florida): Police were called to a beachfront condo at Key Colony Beach where a 7-foot Burmese python was blocking the driveway. Using a shuffleboard stick, Officer Griffith managed to maneuver the snake in a large empty trashcan. The snake was turned over to animal control authorities and will be euthanized.
November 22, 2011 (Rockhampton, Australia): An Emerald man in his 30's died about three hours after being bitten on the hand by a deadly brown snake. He was bitten while killing the snake in a friend's garage. Despite being rushed to Rockhampton Hospital immediately where the staff did their best to save him, the man succumbed to the snake bite. Scroll down to November 3, 2011, to read about a similar incident.
November 22, 2011 (Richmond, Virginia): A Hampton, Virginia, man was rushed to the VCU Hospital in Richmond after being bitten on the thumb by his Albino Monocled Cobra. The man owns several venomous snakes and frequently handles them. The man is expected to fully recover.
November 21, 2011 (Lee County, Alabama): Lee County authorities have warned residents of the county that debris from recent tornados may well harbor copperheads and rattlesnakes which were displaced from their usual habitats by the storms of the past week.
November 19, 2011 (San Antonio, Texas): The most recent episode of the cooking competition TV show Top Chef required to the contestants to devise recipes using freshly killed rattlesnakes as the main ingredient of dishes appropriate for the Quiceanaro celebration feast for a lucky San Antonio girl's fifteenth birthday.
November 18, 2011 (Gustine, California): A San Joaquin Valley high school was shut down for over a week recently when there were five different episodes of baby rattlesnakes being discovered on the campus. The Gustine High School principal said the presence of baby rattlers this late in the year indicates that adult rattlers are still present at a time when such snakes have usually started to prepare for their winter hibernation.
November 18, 2011 (Zimbabwe, Africa): Crowds of curious and concerned people gathered around the home of 52-year-old woman in the town of Maun. The bystanders were drawn to the woman's house by rumors that she had turned into a snake. Police arrived on the scene and after assessing the situation decided to move the woman to a secret safe location to protect her from members of the crowd thought she should be killed just like any other snake.
November 14, 2011 (Hobart, Tasmania): Tasmanian snake-catchers report that this snake season just beginning in Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania is busier than than any season in recent memory. Up to 20 calls per day are coming in from Hobart area suburban gardens, golf clubs, and shopping centers as residents encounter an unprecedented number of dangerous snakes.
November 13, 2011 (Copenhagen, Denmark): As noted many times on this website, two-headed snakes are rare, but an unusually large number of bicephalic snakes are being found all over the world in recent months. So the discovery of Denmark's first two-headed snake has been much covered in the news. Neils Lisborg of the Danish Nature Agency announced today the find of a two-headed adder near Copenhagen.
November 8, 2011 (India): There's a new fad among young wine-drinkers in India. Snake-Infused Wine!It's made by placing a small, newly killed venomous snake inside a large bottle of rice wine.November 3, 2011 (Wheatvale, Queensland, Australia): A 42-year-old nurse, Narelle Paris, of Wheatvale was bitten on the hand by a venomous snake, probably an eastern brown snake, while she was gardening at home. Although she was rushed to the hospital and treated with anti-venom, she died within a few hours after the bite. Stories like this may become more familiar this year as Australia moves into its summer season. Queensland snake-catchers have already captured as many snakes so far this season as they did all of last summer.
Within a couple of days the essences of the snake (including its venom) begin to infuse into the wine, giving the wine a new and exotic taste. One avid fan of the snake-infused wine says that it makes the mouth tingle and creates an unusual "high."
According to an Indian herpetologist, "the theory is that the alcohol in the wine denatures the venom so that it has only a very low toxicity."
One on-line vendor sells cobra-infused rice wine for about $65 per quart.
This is a $65 bottle of snake wine. Notice that it contains a small hooded cobra and some sort of green snake.
November 3, 2011 (Bangkok, Thailand): Not only do the citizens of Bangkok have local snakes to contend with during the current flooding, now they have to worry about 15 missing green mambas that escaped from a flooded veterinary research center. The scientists there were conducting studies on these African snakes, but since their building flooded they are chasing about the city trying to locate and recapture these highly venomous snakes. Scroll down to October 29 and October 13 for more stories and pictures about the snake problems caused by the recent flooding in Bangkok.
October 31, 2011 (Rawalpindi, Pakistan): Mr. Muhammad Rais of Rawalpindi wrote a letter to the editor of The International News in which he comlains that Pakistanis are too quick to kill snakes. He cites as an example the recent killing by some villagers of a 10-foot-long Asiatic python. Such a snake, says Rais, keeps the rodent population in check, reducing the need for poisons and pesticides and lowering the chances of the spread of rodent-borne diseases. Rais hopes that his letter will educate the public to leave such snakes alone, especially the Asiatic python which is already on the endangered species list.
October 30, 2011 (The Everglades, Florida): Claims that Burmese pythons in the Everglades can grow to 16 or more feet in length are not ridiculous exaggerations. Claims that large Burmies in the 'Glades can take down and eat an adult deer are confirmed by the photograhs below:
. . .and on a lighter note. . .
October 29, 2011 (Bangkok, Thailand): New Orleans is a large city mostly below sea level on the banks of a large river. and so is Bangkok. For the past couple of months heavy rains have caused flooding in and around Bangkok. And now the river's still rising and high tide is coming. Bangkok is facing a Katrina-like disaster if the flood walls and sandbags fail. Actually, it's Katrina plus snakes. Already venomous snakes have been washed down from the jungles up river to Bangkok and are being spotted along the streets in the city's main business district.
A Bangkok cab driver captured one of these guys in front of the city's main tourist hotel.
October 28, 2011 (Houston, Texas): A 25-year-old Houston woman was walking along the Kingwood Hiking Trail on October 18 when she felt "a pinch" on her foot. She looked down and saw a two-and-a-half foot rattler. Her hiking companions rushed her to an area hospital where she spent five very pain-filled and very expensive days. Even today, ten days after the bite, she has to use crutches to get around.
October 28, 2011 (Boulder, Colorado): Dr. Leslie Leinwand's article on python blood appears in today's issue of Science magazine. The professor and her research team are reporting that triglycerides and other constituents in the blood of recently fed Burmese pythons cause the snakes to experience a healthy increase in the size and efficiency of their hearts' performance. The article reports that serum from fed python blood has been injected into lab mice and improved the heart health of the mice. Dr. Leinwand, a research professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder, says that her team's research could lead to new treatments for people with heart disease.Finally we hear something really promising about Burmese pythons.
By the way, Dr. Stephen Secor, of the University of Alabama and a noted expert on pythons, is one of the co-authors of Dr. Leinwand's article in Science. Secor is a very popular biology teacher at Bama, who often lectures with a live python draped around his shoulders. I have seen at least five other internet items, including a science site from France, which are applauding the results being published by Leinwand, Secor, and the other members of the research team.
October 28, 2011 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia): Celescoriano Razond, the chief enforcement officer of Malaysia's laws concerning the possession and sale of native wildlife, announced the arrest of two men who were just about to complete the sale of 302 Asiatic cobras to Thai restaurants in Thailand and elsewhere. Under Malaysia's strict laws the two men will probably spend 5 years in prison. (This story gives you something to think about if you ever go into a Thai restaurant. The chef there may be keeping a few cobras back in the kitchen. For special guests who insist that traditional Thai cobra-based dishes contain fresh cobra meat.)
October 26, 2011 (Birmingham, Alabama): Both of my sons graduated from Birmingham's Huffman High School, so I know there is a creek that runs behind the school where many cottonmouths have been spotted over the years. This story, however, is about a black king snake who bit a Huffman High student the other day. You need to know that black king snakes prey on poisonous snakes like cottonmouths, copperheads,and rattlers, so it was not surprising that the king snake was wandering around the creek bank at the edge of the school yard. The snake was looking for a meal. According to a bystander, during an outdoor PE class, a 14-year-old freshman spotted the snake and tried to catch it. He got bit on the back of the leg. Fire Chief C.W. Mardis says the boy was rushed to Children's Hospital as a precaution. "This the first time," says Mardis, "that I can recall a Birmingham school student being bitten by a snake while at school." The whole incident suggests that there are probably venomous snakes lurking in the vicinity of the school.
October 25, 2011 (Pocono, Pennsylvania): The online edition of The Pocono Record reports today that Pennsylvania is studying new laws to ban private ownership of exotic animals such as caimans, alligators, and Burmese pythons. The story claims that over the past few years there have been escapes or deliberate releases of all three of those species in the Pocono area.
October 22, 2011 (Birmingham, Alabama): Barbara K., a friend from church, found a snake on her dresser. Not a live snake. It was an image of a snake. It was a caduceus on a small charm for a charm bracelet. Not surprising since Barbara is a nurse. October 22, 2011 (Houston, Texas): Mark S., my friend from high school, college, and Internet days, reports a pre-dawn encounter with a rattlesnake while hunting ducks along the levee of a rice paddy somewhere between Galveston and Houston. There were several hunters making their way along the narrow levee, all of them presumably armed with shotguns for duck shooting. Suddenly the guy in front of Mark says "Wait!" Blocking their path is a 7-foot-long rattler. That's a big f----ing rattlesnake! Mark's companion takes careful aim and shotguns the snake into eternity.Mark freely admits that he doesn't like snakes any more than Indiana Jones does.
There are many of my Gentle Readers who agree with Mark and feel that "the only good snake is a dead snake."
October 21, 2011: Click on this link to read a freshman English essay about how an anaconda finds a meal.
October 20, 2011 (Internet Site): According to Medicine.net, an authoritative-looking website, about 8,000 U.S. residents per year are bitten by venomous snakes. Most of these bites -- about 99% -- are by pit vipers such as ratlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins. Nevertheless, only 12 or 13 of these bites result in death. These numbers may be increasing in the near future due to the increasing number of snake-human encounters in recent years.
October 19, 2011 (North Carolina State University): NC State geneticists claim that some snakes, including pit vipers and boa constrictors, are capable of parthenogenesis, or "virgin birth." No kidding! Mama Viper or Mama Boa can sometimes have babies without the help of a Papa. Such births are common among insects, but something like a "virgin birth" pit viper surprised the scientists.Before now, parthenogenesis has been observed in boas and in komodo dragons, but the pit vipers were a new find.
The scientists say that carefully controlled DNA studies have confirmed that some of the offspring snakes have exactly the DNA of the Mama snake and that there is no trace of male contribution to that DNA.
Hard to believe, but here's the source for this item:
Pit Vipers Capable of Virgin Birth
October 18, 2011 (Mobile, Alabama): E. N., a guy with whom I worked many years ago as a junior counselor at the Boy Scout camp at Citronelle, reports that a 1957 snake encounter has left him suspicious of people who wear loafers without socks.E. entered the counselors' cabin and noticed a wadded-up white sock on the floor. When he picked it up, he found it was secured with a rubber band. He opened up the sock and dumped its contents on a table and. . .that's right! Onto the table fell a 9-inch common green snake. As we used to say back in the 1950's, E. "almost sh-t a brick."
He later learned that the sock belonged to a fellow counselor who frequently captured small snakes and kept them tied up in socks.
That same guy also wore his loafers without socks!
October 18, 2011 (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada): An Edmonton man has been arrested after being caught smuggling rattlesnakes and scorpions into Canada. (You will notice here and there in this website that it is becoming rather common to hear that someone has been caught smuggling "snakes on a plane.")
October 16, 2011 (Panama City, Florida): About a month ago so many copperheads and cottonmouths were being encountered by visitors to Henry Davis Park that the Rev. Bruce Taylor appeared at a city council meeting and complained that city workers were neglecting keeping weeds, grass, and other vegetation properly cut back. The Panama City clergyman apparently has clout with the city fathers. Work crews have been at the park about twice a week since Rev. Taylor complained. And the venomous serpents are no longer being spotted at the park.
October 16, 2011 (Chattanooga, Tennessee): My friend Jack D. lives in Chattanooga now, but during the Vietnam War he was an infantry officer serving in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He and his troops often encountered a pretty but deadly emerald green snake with a reputation for bites that were quickly fatal. In those days, he and his troops called this snake "Mister Three-Steps." The snake bites. The victim takes three steps, and then drops to the ground!
October 15, 2011 (Vancouver, Washington): A highway patrolman found an abandoned boa and its terrarium alongside an Interstate highway near Vancouver, Washington.
October 14, 2011 (Picayune, Mississippi): My friend Mac's rat snake (see October 6 entry below) has returned to the wild despite Mack's best efforts to make the snake a pet. Mac had even named the snake Katya for a soprano in a nearby choir. But the snake continued to try to bite Mac, so he released her back into the wild. Mac also reports that his brother in Brookline, Missouri, recently caught several ring snakes near his home and then took them out into the countryside and released them. Those human-snake encounters keep on occurring.
October 14, 2011 (Cozumel, Mexico): A little island just off the coast near Cozumel used to be famous for its huge population of colorful golden parrots. Tourists visited there so they could see and hear what happened when hundreds of the parrots flew into the air squawking and screeching. A recent visitor to the island reports there are hardly any parrots there any more and those that remain don't often raise their raucous voices. What happened?
In 1971 a movie company visiting the island was filming a story that involved boa constrictors. When the filming was complete, the guy in charge of the animals released 10 or 12 boas into a very boa-friendly environment. Since then, the boas have multiplied and nearly wiped out the parrots except for those who don't make such a ruckus and disturbance when they fly. Apparently the quiet parrots are harder for the boas to find.
Just as the Burmese pythons of the Everglades and the brown tree snakes of Guam have altered the ecosystems they have invaded, the boas have altered the ecosystem of that little island.
October 14, 2011 (Moulibazar, Bangladesh): Somebody somewhere in the Western world wanted to buy some venomous snakes, so four guys from Bangladesh met in a Moulibazar hotel to arrange for shipping about 30 venomous snakes, including 4 cobras. Members of the Forest Service and local police caught the guys and confiscated the snakes. The four snake-sellers are headed to jail, and the snakes will be released back into the wild.
October 14, 2011 (San Antonio, Florida): The only thing famous about this little town near St. Petersburg is the annual Rattlesnake Rodeo. This year the winner of the rodeo will receive a pair of snake boots donated by a local department store. Once again Jim Mendenhall will be on hand with his collection of exotic venomous snakes, mambas and cobras mostly. This year is the 45th year the rodeo has been held.
At 68 years old, Jim Mendenhall has over half-a-century of experience with venomous snakes, but he has only been bitten once. As he tells it, he was handling a cottonmouth moccasin with a snake stick when the snake slipped off the stick and fell toward the floor. As the cottonmouth was falling, it managed while in mid-air to strike Mendenhall's finger.October 13, 2011 (Oakville, Canada): Somebody has either released three ball pythons or has allowed them to escape. Kids playing on a trash pile spotted the three pythons on top of the pile and reported the snakes to the authorities. Using a hockey stick as a snake stick, the police captured two of the three pythons. The largest of the pythons was a 4-foot-long pastel morph ball python. Only two of the three were rescued and are now living at the Humane Society animal shelter. The weather is turning cold in Canada, so it is very unlikely that the third python will survive very long.
"I had always heard that snakes can't strike while they're in the air," says Mendenhall, "but I know that's not true. It took five or six vials of anti-venom and about three months to get me back in shape where I could play golf again."
October 13, 2011 (Bangkok, Thailand): The unusually heavy rains of the past few months have brought persistent flooding to the ouskirts of Bangkok, so critters from the distant jungles are now swimming around in the suburban Bangkok streets. That means both crocodiles and several species of venomous water snakes. Local officials have advised residents of flooded areas that most of the snakes will be scared away by vigorously splashing the water they are wading in. Unfortunately, making such a disturbance alerts hungry crocodiles to the location of possible prey. Be quiet, and get snake-bit! Make noise, and here comes a crocodile! You just can't win.
By the way, the floods also allowed some pretty large pythons to come into Bangkok's suburbs.
October 13, 2011 (Moscow, Russia): Even the Russians are interested in exotic wildlife, so citizens of Moscow are eagerly awaiting the opening of Russia's first public aquarium, where one of the anticipated attractions will be an Amazon display which will include both piranha fish and several green anacondas. I hope those Muscovites know that green anacondas keep growing as long as they live and that, after a decade or so, Moscow will be home to some pretty big snakes.
October 12, 2011 (New York City): If you are still keeping up with the Kardashians, Khloe and Kourtney K. were spotted in an upscale reptile store buying a large snake and all the equipment that is needed to take care of a big snake. They then took the snake back to their room in an upscale hotel.
October 12, 2011 (Reserve, Louisiana): The principal of East Saint John High School in Reserve has spent the last week dealing with a snake infestation. It's never happened before, but seven times this past week he has had to call animal control officers to clear his building from snakes. A rumor spread through the town that the snakes were venomous copperheads. Actually, the snakes were rat snakes, most of which were as thin as a pencil and no more than 18 inches long.
October 12, 2011 (Atlanta, Georgia): Nicholas Mesa of Indiana had to post a $5,000 bond before he could continue on his way home from Florida. Sheriff's deputies pulled him over just outside Atlanta. When one of the deputies asked him to get out of the car so he could search the car, Nicholas acted weird. The deputy insisted on the search, but Nicholas finally said that the car was full of snakes. And indeed it was. A corn snake, a coachwhip snake, a pine snake, a king snake, a hognose snake, and a rosy boa constrictor were traveling with Nicholas to Indiana. Nicholas said he caught the snakes in Florida and was taking them back to Indiana. Nicholas was charged with possession of unlicensed snakes. I don't believe he caught a rosy boa in Florida because that's a morph he probably bought from a breeder. Anyway, the wildlife officials in Atlanta are investigating to see what other laws Nicholas broke.
October 12, 2011 (Florence, Alabama): Newspaper readers in Florence have been reminiscing about Ahab the Arab Snake Man, who used to have a traveling snake show in the 1960's which often came to Florence and Mussel Shoals. All the readers reported to the columnist who wrote the story that Ahab climbed down into a 6-foot deep pit with several dozen rattlesnakes and copperheads, lay down amongst the snakes, and allowed them to crawl all over him. (Like Indiana Jones in reverse!) And the readers all reported that the then popular song "Ahab the Arab" was playing loudly throughout the entire show. It just goes to show you that your encounters with snakes can still be vivid memories after more than forty years.
October 12, 2011 (Rumford, Maine): Rumford police have spent the last week investigating the theft from a local residence of a 3-foot long Mexican boa constrictor valued at $400.
October 12, 2011 (Cairns, Australia): For the past three years a 16.5 foot female python has been causing problems at a beach club near Cairns. In mating season she hangs out in the thatched roof of the kayak and canoe lanai, and often attracts as many as seven or eight large male pythons to party hearty. As a result, some of the members picking up a canoe or a kayak have had the daylghts scared out of them by one or more of these huge snakes. But that's all over now. A professional Australian snake-catcher caught the party girl python yesterday and released her into the wild at an undisclosed location. (As you browse through this website, you are certain to notice that Australia has so many snakes native to the place that snake-catching can be a full-time occupation and that some Aussie snake-catchers are minor celebrities.)
October 12, 2011 (Huntsville, Alabama): Nowadays A-All-Animal Control is doing a booming business removing snakes from residences in and around Huntsville because like so many other areas Hunstville is experiencing an unusually large number of human-snake encounters. A spokesman for the business reminds the public, however, that if you have a snake in your house or in your yard, you probably have a mouse or rat problem as well. The snakes wouldn't come your way if there were no prey animals available. October 12, 2011 (London, England): Famous English Premiere Soccer League star John Terry has agreed to cut the ribbon at the opening of a new reptile store in London's Surbiton District. The shop specializes in pythons, especially Royal pythons. It seems that the snake-selling business is really thriving in London.
October 11, 2011 (Tulsa, Oklahoma): Tulsa Channel 2 (NBC) reporter George Flickinger had done many stories on snake encounters over the years, but he had personally never encountered a snake. Until last night! In the middle of the night he heard a noise coming from his bedroom closet. When he cautiously opened the clost, he caught a glimpse of. . .a big black snake! He slammed the closet door shut and immediately telephoned one of the snake experts he had met over the years. The snake expert hurried to George's house where he managed to capture a 6-foot long rat snake that had inexplicably found its way into the reporter's home.
October 11, 2011: Executives of the popular cable channel Animal Planet announced that their series "Swamp Wars" will air yet another Florida invasive python special in November of 2011. This will be the second season for "Swamp Wars." (Boy, Oh Boy! October 11 has been a really busy day for internet snake stories!)
October 11, 2011 (Snake Island, Sao Paulo, Brazil): Snake Island is back in the news again. (See entry for October 6, 2011 below.) Officials just released the story of a Brazilian fisherman who landed on the island in search of bananas and who was bitten by a lance-headed viper. His body was found by Brazilian Navy searchers. And that's why the Brazilian Navy tries to prevent anyone from going ashore on that island. (Apparently the naval blockade of Snake Island is not perfect!)
October 11, 2011 (Ragland, Alabama): Rebecca Yarbrough Tucker was a hit with the kids at a Ragland elementary school when she brought her reptile education show to the school the other day. The show has been in existence for almost 50 years and was originally the work of Rebecca's parents and is carried on today by Rebecca and her husband. The biggest thrill for the kids was when they got to take part in holding a giant albino Burmese python named Mr. No-Shoulders. Obviously Rebecca is pro-snake!
October 11, 2011 (Canberra, Australia): Customs officials at Canberra report that they have recently intercepted several shipments of illegal snakes from Britain, the U.S., Sweden, and Canada. The snakes are being sent into Australia by professional snake breeders responding to orders for snakes placed on the Internet. Several American corn snakes, about a dozen Burmese pythons, and several boa constrictors were confiscated in the past week or so. Australian animal authorities are concerned especially that the Burmese pythons could become established in the wild much as they have in South Florida.
October 11, 2011 (Murcia, Cebu, The Philippines): Donnie Nietes has just been declared the flyweight world boxing champion, but the news stories about him spend more time on his snake than on his fighting skills. Nietes sleeps with his Burmese python named Don 2 and claims he's not worried about the snake attacking him. He also claims that he will be getting married soon and that his wife-to-be will have to accept sleeping with both him and his snake. Nietes usally takes the snake with him to boxing matches.
October 11, 2011 (Chattanooga, Tennessee): I've known Jack since the 1950's when we attended the same high school. Today he revealed that he encounters a large yellow anaconda and some boa constrictors every Wednesday at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga. Jack is a volunteer docent and works with the snake exhibit on a regular basis.
October 11, 2011 (Caledonia, Minnesota): A 28-year-old man who was bitten by a timber rattler near Caledonia has reported that he never heard the snake rattle, never saw the snake, and certainly never meddled with the snake. He says the snake attack was completely unprovoked. A doctor who treated the man reported that several ounces of flesh were destroyed near the victim's ankle by the highly toxic venom. (But they tell us all the time that snakes are afraid of people and that they will leave you alone if you leave them alone.)
October 10, 2011 (Birmingham, Alabama): A couple from my church reported that their daughter and son-in-law encountered a timber rattler in their driveway this past week. When discussing this with neighbors, they were told that at least four other residents in their Trussville suburban community had also encountered similar rattlers lately.
October 9, 2011 (Picayune,Mississippi): Mack, a friend of mine from graduate school days, recently spotted a 3.5 foot long rat snake crossing a road in his neighborhood near Picayune. Mack stopped his car, captured the snake, and took it home and placed it in a terrarium. Unfortunately, Mack got bitten five or six times as he collected the snake. As a precaution against infection, Mack went to a local ER for anti-biotics and other treatment. He is keeping the ER discharge slip for use as a bookmark in his books about snakes and other reptiles.
October 8, 2011 (London, England): Unusally warm weather lately has caused snakes from the upper Thames Valley to interrupt their migration southwards to their winter hibernation grounds south of London. So people on the outskirts of London are reporting many sightings of snakes lying in or on the edge of the roadways where they can enjoy the warm pavements.
October 7, 2011 (Warmambool, Australia): Following the recent wet winter in the southwest of Australia comes an explosion in the animal population. Highly venomous tiger snakes and Australian copperhead snakes are unusually plentiful this spring around the town of Warmambool.
October 6, 2011 (Beijing, China): The Chinese word yuan refers to people who keep snakes and other exotic reptiles as pets or for the purpose of breeding and selling the animals. Xiang Xiongun, 22, recently attended a Beijing yuan convention where a reporter interviewed her about her three snakes she was exhibiting at the meeting.
October 6, 2011 (Sao Paulo, Brazil): The beautiful island just 20 miles off the coast of Brazil at Sao Paulo is known as Snake Island, so there are no humans or resort hotels there. The island got its name because it is the home of Brazil's largest population of lanceheaded golden vipers, the deadliest snake in Brazil. The Brazilian Navy has declared the island off limits to everyone and patrols nearby waters to prevent people from landing on the island.
October 6, 2011 (Gainesville, Florida): University of Florida researchers have just released a study that names the South Florida Everglades as the #1 most-threatened by invasive species ecosystem in the world. It's not just the Burmese pythons in the Glades. There many other invasive species -- reptiles, fish, and even plants -- that threaten to drastically change the environment in South Florida.
October 5, 2011: Fortunately for us all, the largest snake that ever lived went extinct about 50 million years ago. He was named Titanoboa. He lived in South America and was about as long as a city bus and weighed about a ton-and-a-half. The dinosaurs had mostly become extinct about sixty million years ago, so this guy ended up being the largest land animal in his neck of the woods for about ten million years. He could easily eat one of the fearsome prehistoric crocodiles such as the one in the picture below. About forty million years ago a snake known as Gigantophis lived in Africa and was about about 33 feet long and weighed perhaps 600 pounds. I doubt that even our whackiest snake enthusiasts would try make to either one into a pet.
October 5, 2011 (Darwin, Australia): As the city spreads out towards the bush, new suburbs are built in snaky areas. According to well-known Darwin snake-catcher Chris Peberdy, this means an increase in the number of human-snake encounters. And a spokesman for a Darwin hospital reports treating more than four times as many people for venomous snake bites this year as any previous year.
October 5, 2011 (San Francisco, California): A blogger on a dream interpretation blog from San Francisco reported her dream about pythons. She said that in the dream her son was swallowed whole by a giant python. She got a knife, cut a hole in the python so her son could breathe, and then she pulled him out of the hole. I coudn't find out what the dream supposedly meant.
October 4, 2011 (Yorba Linda, California): Representatives of the Orange County Zoo showed up at St. Francis of Assisi School for the annual Blessing of the Animals. The zoo reps brought a one-eyed screech owl, three hissing roaches from Madagascar, and two pythons.
October 4, 2011 (Gympie, Australia): As the southern hemisphere spring approaches, the snakes are on the move -- black snakes, carpet snakes, and the deadly brown snakes. So Gympie snake-catcher John Keady is warning people to leave the snakes alone and call for professional help to remove them from gardens and backyards. "First of all," he says, "they are dangerous in the extreme. Beyond that, most of these snakes are on the endangered species list and you can get in a lot of trouble for killing them." (They may be on the endangered list, but many people have noted that they are turning up in unusually large numbers this year.)
October 4, 2011 (Salt Lake City, Utah): The owner of a Salt Lake City pest removal service is learning all about legal red tape. The property where his business is located has been taken over by the Utah Department of Transportation in order to build a highway, but the business owner can't work out all the permits necessary to move to a new location. And now his time is up. The UDOT plans to start razing his old location within 48 hours and have ordered him to vacate immediately. The business owner doesn't know what to do with the many animals he is holding in cages and pens on the old property. Among those animals are several dangerous snakes, mostly large constrictors and rattlesnakes. So far the authorities have refused to expedite his license applications or to give him more time.
October 4, 2011 (Urraweem, New South Wales, Australia): A very brave Staffordshire bull terrier lost his life protecting the family's home from a deadly eastern brown snake, one of Australia's deadliest snakes. See next two images for more details.
October 4, 2011 (Yuma, Arizona): The director of the Yuma 911 service reports that he receives an average of one call per day to remove rattlesnakes from people's yards and homes. He has asked the public to leave snakes alone when they spot them because it makes his work more dangerous if the snakes are already angry when 911 arrives on the scene. "Recently," he said, "a fairly large diamondback chased me almost all the way back to my truck. People had been poking at it with sticks before 911 got there."
October 3, 2011 (Elyria, Ohio): THIS IS TRULY NAUSEATING! During a domestic dispute between Matthew Rudisill, 24, and Amber Pennell, 21, Matthew grabbed his pet snake and threatened Amber with it. As the dispute got more heated, the couple ended up rolling on the floor and scratching and biting each other. The snake got excited and pooped. Before the struggle ended, Matthew tried to force the snake's tail into Amber's mouth. And, OH, MY GOD! The tail was covered with gooey snake feces. Eventually the police arrived and carted Matthew off to the Elyria jail.
October 3, 2011 (Mackay, Queensland, Australia): The mother of two young children has complained to the Mackay City authorities that her children are no longer safe to play in the yard. Snakes and rats from an overgrown lot across the road keep wandering into her yard. Some of the snakes are venomous. The woman wants the city to clear the overgrown lot.
October 3, 2011 (various locations): Celebrity photos of actors, actresses, and other famous people posing with snakes turn up on the Internet frequently. Here are a few I just found. It surely seems that nearly all these people are very friendly and trusting towards snakes:
And finally one really, really old photo. . .
October 2, 2011 (Calgary, Canada): As many other sources cited below show, snakes seem to be more obviously active this summer and fall than in past years. A reporter for the Calgary Sun reports that a nearby roadway was populated by dozens of garter snakes and a few very fat, well-fed rattlesnakes. Usually snakes around Calgary are headed for winter quarters and hibernation by October, but not this year. This year snakes are easy to find.
October 2, 2011 (Oconee, Georgia): The woman didn't like the exotic snakes being in her home; the man didn't like her attitude. The battle was on! Mostly yelling, but some slapping and scratching. At some point, the man(!) called 9-1-1. Before the 9-1-1 folks arrived, the woman set two large pythons free to wander about the Georgia woodlands.
October 2, 2011 (Carmel, California): Carmel resident Vito Caputo returned home and found his live-in girlfriend dead. The woman and Caputo shared their tiny 900-foot-square home with more than 50 venomous snakes including at least one black mamba, an extremely deadly snake native to Africa. Since there were signs she may have taken an overdose of pills as well as signs she had been bitten several times by a snake, the coroner's office is trying to determine exactly what the cause of death was. Caputo told police that the locks had been removed from the mamba's cage. Since the woman had previously attempted suicide, it is suspected that this might be a case of suicide by snake. Caputo himself may be charged with possession of unlicensed dangerous snakes.
October 2, 2011 (Atlanta, Georgia): Animal control officials in Atlanta say that snake sightings are extremely common in the Metro Atlanta area, and one Atlanta hospital reports that six residents of Atlanta have been treated for venomous snake bites during the summer of 2011. That's more city and suburban snake bite victims than in the previous four summers combined. All sorts of pythons and boas have been spotted, and at least one business is thriving in Atlanta -- for example, Atlanta Pest Removal, Inc.
October 2, 2011 (Hesperia, California): Hesperia animal officials are puzzled by the large number of snake sightings this late in the year. It's been many years since new-born snakes were spotted in September or October. One official wondered if the large number of active snakes has something to do with global warming.
October 1, 2011 (Quincy, Massachusetts): For the past week residents of Quincy's north side have been worried about a six-foot boa constrictor that supposedly escaped into their neighborhood. The excitement, however, is over. The owner reported to police that the snake was found inside the walls of his home. Since it is illegal to keep such snakes without a proper municipal license, it is expected the police will confiscate the snake and fine the owner.
October 1, 2011 (Atlanta, Georgia): Beunca Gainor, an African-American resident of Atlanta, is not afraid of snakes. She works at the Fulton County Animal Shelter. So when someone informed her that a large copperhead was behind her apartment building in Metro Atlanta, she grabbed a broom and and a carving knife and took care of business -- she pinned the snake down with her broom and then cut the snake's head off.
September 30, 2011 (Fort Hood, Texas): It was probably a western diamondback rattler that bit a two-year-old toddler at the base child development center's day-care unit. A spokesman from the base hospital where the child was treated said that the snake definitely bit the child but luckily did not release any venom. Fort Hood officials are looking into ways of keeping snakes and other animals away from the child development center.
September 30, 2011 (Yass Valley, Australia): We are headed toward cold weather and fewer snakes in the northern hemisphere, but in the southern hemisphere they are headed toward warmer weather. The weekly newspaper in rural Yass Valley, Australia, recently ran a front page article saying to leave snakes alone in the upcoming warm months because their local doctor would be absent from the hospital for the next five weeks. (Australian city dwellers also encounter snakes quite often.)
September 30, 2011 (Oracle, Arizona): Jay Smith has plenty of customers for his training sessions to teach dogs to avoid rattlesnakes and to warn their human companions of the dangerous reptile's presence. Smith uses a de-fanged female diamondback named Precious and electric shock collars on the trainee dogs to simulate the sting of a snake bite. Most dogs quickly learn to avoid the snakes and to bark warnings at them from a safe distance. If your dog forgets his training, Smith will re-train him for free.
September 30, 2011 (Eldorado, Illinois): The little town of Eldorado, Illinois, has just announced a new law banning ownership of snakes longer than five feet long. The same law bans raising rabbits and chickens in the little town.
September 30, 2011 (Johnson, Vermont): Carl Hubbell, of Mountainview Trailer Park in Johnson, has lost his six-foot boa constrictor. Local officials ask residents to report sightings of the escaped snake. (Imagine living in a trailer with a six-foot boa constrictor!)
September 29, 2011 (Norfolk, England): The local Norfolk newspaper announced that there was no need for the public to get "hiss-sterical" over the escape of a 6-foot boa. The police found the snake and returned it to its owner. (It sure seems like boas and pythons escape pretty often.)
September 29, 2011 (Knoxville, Tennessee): A post on the Knoxville Craigslist points out that it costs from $60 to $80 per month to feed an adult Burmese python. (There are guys living in trailer parks who have two or three Burmies. How do they pay for the food? No wonder such people often release their pythons into the wild when they get too expensive to feed.)
September 29, 2011 (Kitsap, Washington): A Kitsap man saw a little garter snake near the Bainbridge Island Country Club. On closer inspection it turned out the snake had two heads! (Two-headed snakes are rare, but they occur regularly. There are at least two other two-headed snakes on display in the U.S. One of them is a python. Altogether there have been about 400 confirmed examples of two-headed snakes since 1900, and there has been one fossil two-headed snake discovered a few years ago in China.)
September 29, 2011 (Washington, D.C.): The Pentagon and the Department of the Interior announced a 2.9 million dollar grant to continue a program to prevent brown tree snakes from invading Hawaii. These snakes are known to smuggle themselves aboard cargo ships and planes and hitch rides to new environments. They managed to get to Guam a few decades ago and have since killed off 9 of the 11 species of birds native to Guam. If they get to Hawaii there are about fifty species of birds that would disappear. Yes, the brown tree snake is venomous, but experts say that its venom is only strong enough to subdue the small birds and lizards it encounters in the trees where it spends most of its time. There are no known human fatalities from its bite.
September 29, 2011 (Grimsby, England): Two teenagers were arrested by the Grimsby Police for a burglary in which three boa constrictors and other exotic reptiles were taken.
September 29, 2011 (Deltona, Florida): Two persons from Deltona reported to hospitals in Orlando over the past week suffering from what experts say were bites by pygmy rattlesnakes. Although they are very small, they can do a lot of damage to humans. Especially financial damage. Both of the bite victims required from five to ten vials of anti-venom at $5,000 to $10,000 per vial! I hope their health insurance covers snakebites!
September 28, 2011 (Waco, Texas): Animal control officers called to the campus of McLennan Community College remove a seven-foot long red-tail boa constrictor from the lawn near the Arts Center. The snake was taken to the local zoo where it will be put on display.
September 28, 2011 (Natchez, Mississippi): Dr. Frank Guedon, a local obstetrician, reached into his dog food container, and felt a piercing stab in the palm of his hand. He jerked his hand back and found a sixteen-inch cottonmouth mocassin attached. He killed the snake with a broom and took himself and the dead snake to the hospital. Within two hours his forearm and hand were swollen to twice normal size. He spent the night at the hospital and received six vials of anti-venom. Local animal authorities say snakebites are more common this summer than in previous years.
September 28, 2011 (Atlanta, Georgia): Bill Murray, a homeowner in the upscale Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, was cleaning the trash filters in his pool when he felt a sharp pain in his hand. He had been bitten by an 11-inch long copperhead hiding in the matted leaves and twigs in one of his filters. He spent a day and a night in the hospital and will not regain the use of his arm for at least another month. Atlanta animal officials say that copperheads are very common in the Atlanta area and that there have been more people bitten by copperheads this summer than in the past four years combined.
September 28, 2011 (Fairhope, Alabama): A Fairhope woman was with her Cub Scout pack at an archery range when one the little boys screamed "Snake!" Experienced with snakes, she recognized the animal as a pygmy rattler and realized her boys were in danger. She had caught poisonous snakes in the wild many times before, but this time she misjudged and the snake bit her hand. A spokesman for the hospital where she was treated said it will be several weeks before her arm is back to normal.
September 28, 2011 (Essex, England): AA driver Darren Foster spent most of Thursday removing an eight-foot boa constrictor from behind the dashboard of a car. (AA, Ltd., in England provides emergency service to motorists.) The snake escaped from a pillowcase as its owner transported it to a schoolroom demonstration of reptiles. Foster had to completely disassemble the dashboard of the car to remove the snake.
September 27, 2011 (Littleton, Colorado): When the warehouse for Pro Exotic Reptiles burned down, nearly three thousand exotic snakes were killed in the fire along with hundreds of snake eggs being incubated at the facility. Only one large python, a couple of small snakes, and a handful of eggs survived the fire. Chad Brown, the owner, estimated the retail value of the snakes lost in the fire at nearly half a million dollars. (Snake breeding for the mail-order sale of pythons and boas is a very lucrative business.)
September 26, 2011 (Joliet, Illinois): A Joliet police officer answers a 911 call and finds a large python hiding in the engine compartment of a pickup truck. Fortunately, Officer Reilly had experience with large snakes, so he removed the snake and returned it to its owner.
September 17 (Chennai, India): Pythons are master escape artists as the owners of a zoo in Chennai have just found out. While cleaning the enclosure of a 9-foot Burmese python, zoo workers inadvertently left a drain in the enclosure open, and the snake siezed his opportunity to slither away. Several times the snake has been spotted in the open, but so far the huge snake is on the loose in the zoo and has eluded all attempts to recapture him.
September 16, 2011 (Washington, D.C.): David Barker, one of the best-known suppliers of pythons and other exotic snakes by mail order, appeared before the House/Senate Joint Sub-Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform in opposition to proposed regulations that would outlaw interstate trade in nine species of large constrictor snakes such as the Burmese python. Democrats on the committee favor the new rules; Republicans oppose the new rules. Barker claims that the new rules would put all the reptile dealers in the U.S. out of business.
September 6, 2011 (Cowitz County, Washington): The Cowitz County Humane Department recently confiscated dozens of large snakes from unlicensed owners. A spokesman said "Owning snakes over ten feet long is illegal in Cowitz County, so now we have at least nine giant pythons and boa constrictors in cages at the Humane Department. We found out about these snakes from tipsters."