The Union Recorder


September 7, 2013

RICHARDSON: Fear stands the test of time



It goes without saying that snake identification is not one of my hobbies. I am aware of the physical differences of poisonous and non-poisonous reptiles but that information is not helpful in my case.

For instance pit vipers (poisonous) in our part of the country have elliptical shaped eyes and non-venomous snakes have round eyes. The problem with this is that if I spot one I’m not looking anywhere near his eyes. In fact he’s probably getting a good look at my behind as I exit the location. One can also determine if a snake is poisonous or non-poisonous by checking out the under tail scaling pattern. A single row of scaling under the tail indicates a poisonous snake. I’ve never really understood the logic here. I mean get real. Same thing with the anal plate. Come on now, who in their right mind is going to try to sneak a peek at a snake’s anal parts in order to determine if it’s lethal or not? With these things in mind you can see why I’ve never put in a lot of time into identification techniques. 

I do, however typically use two simple common sense rules concerning serpent encounters. If it is more than a foot long and crawls on its belly one should leave without delay. If it rattles, apply the same rule and change clothes once you have reached safety.

I’ve documented the origins of my youthful fear of snakes. Those fears might have been overcome eventually, but unfortunately I married a woman who is more afraid of them than I. Without going into the grisly details just suffice to say that Laura is terrified of them to the point of being schizophrenic. I do not know, nor will she discuss, from whence her irrational dread stems. It is a topic that is off limits.

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