Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hey, Mom, look what I found

I know I promised something perverse and unwholesome (i.e., smutty), but my inner 9-year-old boy just can't wait to show you this really cool snakeskin that we brought home from the woods today. My inner 12-year-old boy, who is in charge of dirty pictures, will have to wait his turn.

I'm pretty sure this is from a plain ol' rat snake, utterly harmless and unexotic. It's fairly big, nearly 30 inches long. I don't often see them this size, all in one piece, but it's not unusual to see small ones along the trail. Sometimes they're still slightly moist. (Am I grossing you out?) Nothing's moist around here right now, but I'm sure this skin was just shed, because I was on the same trail yesterday.

I have a weakness for all nature's relics of transformation. I love finding cicada shells, old cocoons, wasp's nests. The downside of being a mammal is that our growth lacks drama. We shed a few teeth, and that's about it.

If snakes make you shudder, consider this: Snake bites kill about a dozen people in the US every year. Dog attacks kill about twice that many. (Don't tell Kobi.) Snake hatred is pure bigotry and superstition.

I could preach on that a while, but I'll spare you. There are actually plenty of snake lovers out there, always have been. Here's a snippet of Ben Franklin's famous paean to the rattlesnake. (Click here to read it all.)

"I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids. She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. As if anxious to prevent all pretensions of quarreling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenseless animal; and even when those weapons are shown and extended for her defense, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal. Conscious of this, she never wounds 'till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her."

And for your viewing pleasure, here's Fluffy the Python, taking it all off. Enjoy.


chayaruchama said...

I love you, you sicko.
I collected cicada shells, too !
I just eat that stuff up.
I'm an abject failure as a city gal...

Anonymous said...

My inner mom says to your inner 9 year old boy, "Don't you bring that thing in the house."

Anonymous said...

OK, OK, I know snakes eat small rodents and bugs and do all kinds of other people-friendly deeds, and I know they are beautiful and fascinating, and that they are God's creatures, but DAMN they scare me to death when I see one. It's such a sudden, apopletic moment. Admit it, your heart jumps when you encounter one, no matter what kind it is. Everybody knows it, even whoever it was who wrote Genesis. So I'll confess to killing snakes-- rattlers menacing hiking trails but innocent black snakes too living under our house and eating the mice. It's a tough line to draw for me, respect for snakes against primordial, Biblical, and abject fear.

BitterGrace said...

Cicada shells were one of the fascinations of my childhood, Chaya. I thought they were magical.

Consider your inner mom lucky, Renee. My brother once brought home a bucket of baby cottonmouths.

Bozo, as the Wiccans say, where there is fear, there is power. Or, as my grandmother put it, when something scares you, learn to love it. She got me over my fear of thunderstorms by teaching me to see how beautiful they were. She's the one who taught me to like snakes, too.

Anonymous said...

OMG.... cicada shells! I haven't thought about those in years. I used to collect them also when I was a kid living in Florida. *sigh*

Cool snakeskin. And jaysus, a bucket full of baby cottonmouths????

There is a canyon area behind my home which is full of rattlesnakes. Every once in a while I run into one while taking a walk. A couple of years ago, I ran into to 2 baby rattlers who had wandered/slithered onto to the sidewalk and I had to find a large branch and scoop them up and toss them back into the canyon. People around here like to kill them because they are scared of them. So, I at least wanted them to have another chance at life.

LOL at your inner boy. Brilliant!


Mary said...

Some witches make garters out of snakeskin.


Anonymous said...

I love snakes - we don't get many here, and considering my back garden is brick-walled I was surprised and delighted to find a pretty little grass snake sunning itself out there a while back.

There's a comic storyline in 'the Archers' (venerable BBC Radio 4 soap for the middle classes) about an escaped snake at the moment, and folks are getting all of a jitter about it... crazy.

I had stick insects as a boy. We don't get cicadas here. I have to make do with the odd grasshopper that finds its way into the house.

That, and my lovely spiders.

BitterGrace said...

Dawn, are you sure you're not a Pagan? ;-)

Seriously, it takes some nerve to be cool around rattlers, even babies. You have my admiration.

Mary, I'm saving the skin, but I'm not a big one for garters--maybe I'll make a headband.

Very cool about your grass snake, Leo. I'm sorry you miss out on cicadas, but stick bugs are a nice compensation. What kinda spiders you got?