Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Do Not Pet Snakes

The issues raised in the National Geographic Special America's Deadly Obsession: Snakes is nothing new; after all, it's just an extension of what my previous entry was all about: the average American's ignorance and hubris when it comes to dangerous wildlife. Both involved real snake experts who got careless, and both happened on September 11th, 2001. One died; the other lived. There's even a report of a guy who was strangled to death by his pet python.

Yet Americans continue to buy exotic and venomous pets, and release them into the wild when they get too tough to handle. Buying saw-scaled vipers from Pakistan. Baby cobras. Black and green mambas. Reticulated pythons. Gaboon vipers. King cobras. Taipans.

What strange, warped, heavily medicated or intoxicated mind would consider the above as pets? Playthings? Worst of all, these species aren't even native to North and South America, which already boast some lethal species like the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, cottonmouth, and lance-head vipers. Consider the following:

  • King cobra: Possibly the largest venomous snake in the world. Neurotoxic venom, delivered in large doses, kills by paralysis. Can take down an elephant.
  • Saw-scaled viper: Small, agile and bad-tempered - like most Middle Easterners it shares the environment with. Strikes very quickly. Probably used to kill Ramses III.
  • Black mamba: From Africa. Fastest snake in the world. Aggressive; will stand its ground if cornered. Will bite multiple times. Its neurotoxic venom is deadly.
  • Gaboon viper: One of the largest vipers in Africa. Haemotoxic venom that turns flesh into a soft Slurpee-like consistency is delivered via a pair of five centimetre fangs.
  • Taipan: Native to Australia, and distant cousin of the cobra. Some species carry neurotoxic venom that is far more lethal than their cousins.

All this gives me the impression that the American attitude towards danger is pathological, extending all the way to the White House. I'm sure that Carter, Reagan and Bushes Sr and Jr thought that the two-bit dictators, warlords and extremists they used to coddle were cuddly and harmless too, until they grew too big and too dangerous.


  1. I've had a harmless pet snake.

    BP: At least it's not poisonous. First time here? Welcome!

  2. First time I've seen you ping in agessss. Welcome back.

    BP: Yesss, it hasss been a while.

    I had asked Aizuddin to remove my details from PPS. When he's free enough to that, well... .


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