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Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Oh For Gosh Darn Sake...It`s Just A Snake...






Ok, this is just a spur of the moment non-Croatia related post addition to my blog. Yep. It has absolutely nothing to do with Croatia or Croatians. Just a little inside info on where I stand, and what my view on snakes are. Why snakes all of a sudden you may ask? I dunno, I guess maybe because recently I saw a program about them and came to the conclusion that snakes get a bad rap and too much negative stereotypical nonsense also, and that I should add my personal opinion and thoughts here so that I did my part, did my part in telling it like it is. I’ve actually seen many programs and video clips on the internet, as well as read about them in the news and internet over the years. Yep, snakes definitely have a bad public relations team working for them, generally speaking, and lots of movies don't help either, snakes being transformed into something they're not and have never been. They're a very misunderstood and underappreciated creature of the animal kingdom. But I think once you “take a walk in their shoes”, so to speak (Which is impossible, I know), you develop a new found appreciation of, and respect for those mostly solitary, legless, yet mystical, intriguing and fascinating ancient animals......





 The common North American "Garter Snake".




I actually came to this way of thinking about snakes quite a few years ago. Actually just last year I was going to purchase one but had to put it on hold because of an upcoming cross country move. As in the whole setup with the home, heat lamp, grass and mini-logs and food included. I used to have cats as pets in the past, but got sick of having to clean hair from my clothes before leaving home, having little claw marks on my nicer clothes and furniture, and scooping out poop etc.

If I lived on a farm or in the country, then it would be a lot less of a hassle in keeping one or more cats, because they're amusing and cool too. I've never had a dog yet either because to me they need room to run around, I don't have the time to take them for daily walks, and they eat a lot more also, a lot more than a cat. I also used to have fish, but having fish is a very impersonal pet, it's almost like having flowers in a vase. Cool to look at sure, and I like the sound of bubbles, but you can’t take the fish out and pet it. (Well you could, but then it would die or the cat might snatch it and eat it, happens all the time). Also you have to be on the ball concerning keeping the aquarium and water clean, having pH levels at a safe level at all times, and a list of other duties that must never be forgotten, or else your prized fishy will be flushed down the big toilet in the sky. (I'm not a fan of angler fish though, that's some sort of mutant mistake of nature the way I see it, or pointless joke)





 Just one colourful version of the common "Corn Snake".




But now snakes. Well now, there's an intriguing and very interesting pet and animal. Snakes are also probably one of the easiest pets you could have. There are many different types of snakes you could have for a pet. From a few inches long, to ones that are longer than you are tall. But just to generalize, basically you just drop the food into it’s habitat/home once every few weeks and just make sure it has fresh water, and you’re pretty well good to go. Mice and crickets these days are very cheap. (Is your pesty neighbour or landlord or other person causing problems for you? No problem, just chop them up and the snake will most likely eat them without complaining. Snakes are good like that and aren't fussy or picky). Joking aside, there are many, many different types of snakes to get into, each type with its own particular characteristics and features. You'll have to buy a book or read information about them on the internet to find out about that. This isn’t a crash course snake lesson, just a commentary.

After doing my own reading though, I found out that the very common “Corn Snake” was the snake best suited for me at the time. I even remember the first time I saw a snake, like it was just yesterday. I was about 4 or 5 years old and it was in a hayfield in Croatia, or some kind of grassy field anyway. (oops, I guess this is a Croatia related post after all, oh well, since already on the topic). We spent some time in the country and on the farm for a while and I remember when I saw it I wasn’t afraid to try to touch it at all either. I clearly remember I saw it winding its way toward the nearby forest and I actually even went running after it to take it home, maybe even take it on the plane and back to Canada with me I thought. I didn't even catch it yet and I already had visions and could see myself amazing the classroom and teacher when I got back for classroom show and tell. (It was going to be the best show and tell of the year for sure, who could beat bringing a real live caught snake? It would have to be some really amazing doll or plastic toy to beat that one that's for sure). It was also pretty big I remember, and poisonous I found out later, that's when my relatives were yelling at me not to go near one again or try to pick one up. It was weird though thinking about it now, I wasn't scared at all and didn't sense any fright like a 6th sense warning of danger or anything like that. (was I perhaps a magician, wizard or shaman sorcerer in a previous life perhaps? having the power to make things appear and disappear and then reappear again? that could very well explain it). I also recall how later that night after dinner, bath time and lying in bed, I could even hear the snake talking to me from outside in the pitch black forest and whispering into my ear through the warm summer breeze. Yep, I knew it was him alright, he had the exact voice that I thought he would have. (it was a cool, calm and laid back voice, but smart sounding too, like he'd been around a long, long, very long time and seen lots of things so he knew exactly what he was talking about and not just blowing wind, although the snake's voice actually wasn't really a him or even a her either, it was some sort of echoey and wavy through the air voice if you know what I mean, he or she, it, the snake or whatever, sounded like it had probably been around for a million years or probably even more, maybe as long as the nearby mountain). I could suddenly even see his face and eyes again, right there in the dark room and sitting there, it was just sitting right there on my blankets in front of me near my feet. He said something to the effect that I was going to really like my present, that I deserved it. He called me some name that wasn't my name and thanked me for not throwing rocks or sticks at him or trying to stab him with a pitchfork or shovel, and that it really meant a lot, (He mentioned something about different kinds of humanoids on the planet, and that lately some people have been causing trouble for him and his kind since forever and for no reason at all, making up stories and blaming him for practically everything, and that I'll see exactly what he/she/it means, not now but in the future), so then I asked the snake what its name was, was it a he or a she or something else? The snake just chuckled and said that it didn't matter, explaining that it used different names at different times whenever it felt like, it said "you know that river under the bridge you crossed just past the hills when you came here from the highway? well I've been living around here long before there even was a river", (that's when I knew this was no regular ordinary snake that's for sure), and then it said a few more words in some strange language and strange words I never heard before...or since, and then the snake simply and casually just crawled away again back to the floor and out the door towards the dark forest again, it was a bright full moon too I remember, and when I got up and looked through the window from the bed I could still see the snake slowly winding along the ground back towards the forest until it disappeared in the grass. I didn't know what the heck he was talking about though, did he give me a new name? who and what was he talking about before he slithered away silently? How was he able to talk to me through the room like that, was it some sort of magic trick or maybe it was a secret the snake was telling me? I also remember that the very next morning I went back to the edge of the field again where the forest starts, at the exact same place where I saw the snake the day before, hoping to see it again and see if it had anything else to tell me, maybe something really important he forgot to mention the previous night, but there was no sign of him/her/it... whatever the snake was. I waited looking around for about 10 minutes or so and for a second I thought that it came back, I saw something was moving by a bush...but it was just a frog this time hopping around and just the sound of crickets and birds and that was it. I had to go back to the house then because they were calling me that it was time to eat. We ended up leaving the farm the next day to go visit some other places and people in the city, more eating of this and that and all that visiting kind of stuff. I kept thinking for the rest of the vacation and summer though, and once in a while for many years afterwards and even up to today...Yep, I'm pretty sure and have no doubt about it, that snake is still alive and living in that same forest even today because like I said he's been around and has seen and knows a lot of things, oh he's there alright, and I know he'll be there still for probably another million or even a billion years...at least, no doubt about it. I just didn't know what the heck the snake was talking about that night....until years later when...

Anyway, also years later, as a 'tween in northern Ontario while on vacation, I came across quite a few of those common Garter Snakes and found them really cool to watch too, and pick up and admire their colors shining in the summer sunlight and watch as it probed it's tongue in and out to sense where it was, or whether it was in danger. A really unique and cool looking animal up close.





Cute pic, but I wouldn't encourage it. Snakes are not a ball of yarn or rubber mouse. (since I already mentioned Croatia, in case you are interested about the different kinds of our slithery friends that are found in Croatia, you can check out these 2 interesting links that I came across at: www.zh.zadweb.biz.hr and secretdalmatia.wordpress.com, there's plenty more but these will give the basics).




Anyway, here are some things to ponder, especially if you are one of those...”ewww, Ssssnakes!” people. Firstly, snakes are for the most part a solitary animal. They prefer to have as little contact with other animals as much as possible. The first hint of other animals in the area, and it’s outta there fast. Snakes are not on the prowl to see how many people as possible that it can find and bite. After all, snakes can’t read your mind. (but then again maybe they can). When Mary is walking through the field to pick daisies, or Jimmy is walking in the forest to go rock climbing, and either one of them comes across a startled snake and gets bitten, you have to remember that you are in their territory. You are the outsider stranger and intruder, you went across the border from your world and are now in their world. You simply don't belong there doing and acting like you're still in your world backyard. (ever notice how there's not many stories about finding bears, wolves or other large mammals dead in the forest because of a snake bite?). It's their home and kitchen and not yours. Snakes don’t know that Cathy was planning to pick blue-berries at the cottage for blue-berry pie, to the snake she's a foreign alien creature from another universe practically.

As far as the snake is concerned, you are some foreign loudmouth creature, an intruder that is causing a ruckus and that is making lots of noise and heading straight for it, even as it is trying not to be seen or bothered. (Snakes can actually sense you coming from very far away through vibrations from the ground and will already start to distance themselves before you even get close, you're just an annoyance basically that it can't be bothered with, it has more important things to do). That is when snakes (Or more precisely, mother nature, their defence mechanism, instinct, the genes and molecules in their system, whatever you want to call it)...takes over. It’s really not anything personal. It’s just nature. You're asking for it as far as the snake is concerned. It's the way snakes roll.





 Another colourful example of a common "Corn Snake", one of the easiest varieties to keep as a pet.




Secondly, Snakes are one of the most humane of all predators. Extremely humane. It only goes looking for food when it is very hungry and needs nutrition. Mama snake’s gotta feed her babies after all. Snakes don’t go out looking for a 3 p.m. snack because it has the munchies. Another reason they are one of the most humane predators out there is because they are so efficient and tidy. Snakes don’t have teeth and paws or claws to rip apart their prey and chomp away on a carcass for dinner leaving behind a big mess

They eat everything whole, all in one piece. No blood, no guts, no mess, no leftovers. No need for a toothpick either. No wailing and howling or crying animals for the most part. That whole extending their jaws thing and swallowing something whole is really something to see. (There’s lots of videos about that on Youtube). They aren’t picky, leaving behind the hair, tail, or liver and other internal organs. You could even walk by 5 minutes later along the very same spot where it dined and you would never know that Jimmy/Jenny the Snake just had a very nice big dinner that will keep him/her satisfied for a month.





 The non-venemous and harmless "Grass Snake" (Croatian: Bjelouška) which can be found in Croatia and most of Europe. It rarely bites, but instead produces an odour, or just simply plays dead as a defence.




Thirdly, Snakes are also the most humane predators because of how quick and without mess they kill their prey/dinner. In the case of poisonous snakes, death can sometimes happen within just a few seconds for smaller critters. There's no crying in agony prey, wiggling around making a lot of noise and whining, etc. (You ain't going anywhere there Freddy Frog, just shut up and deal with it). Just a quick strike from Mr or Mrs Slithers and it’s permanent sleepy–time for Clucky the Chicken. On the other side, in the case of non-poisonous/restrictor snakes, they constrict their prey. Just a very quick strike and squeeeze and before you finish blinking, Ronnie the Rat or Manny the Mouse is well on his way to sleepy-time too...forever. (Not being able to breathe will do that to you). And again, no mess or fuss. Don’t let the supposed cuteness of the rabbit, frog or chicken or whatever, make you think that Robbie the Snake is a meanie. Like I said previously, it’s nothing personal because the snake has to eat. (Have you ever taken a really good up close look at a chicken or pigeon anyway? not exactly adorable looking at all, and not the cleanest animals either by far)





 A newly found baby "Garter Snake".




To finish off this little post about my view of snakes, I would just like to add, that for thousands of years snakes have been held in high regard in cultures all over the world. Some even respecting them so much as to making deities of them, or incorporating elements of the snake into a diety. They are the subject of many folk tales, legends, creation myths and stories that go way back to the beginnings of man's recorded history.

Snakes and serpents can be found in lots of artwork from Asian countries as well as North/South American Native peoples, and not in a bad light either. In some legends it was thought that it was giant snakes that formed all the winding crevices, rivers and hollows found throughout certain areas in the American south, as they were moving across the lands. Snakes are very prevalent in Greek mythology. One story tells how Melampous, after saving the young of some snakes that a servant had killed, was given the ability to understand animals by a snake that had licked his ear.





 Snakes in many part of the world are protected animals, and people are encouraged to respect their environment and right to their natural habitat.




Snakes also have a history in Croatian mythology and some other Slavic languages speaking peoples. Samovila was a goddess who lived deep in the woods and was a great protector of animals. If anyone harmed any of her creatures, they could be lured into a magical circle and danced to death, or perhaps caught in a landslide or drowned in a river. As a shape shifter, she could be a falcon, swan, snake, horse or whirlwind. She might agree to teach a human her skills if the proper ceremony were performed in the woods on a full moon Sunday before sunrise. She would not hesitate to cause harm to anyone who threatens her creatures. She lives deep in the woods and has great knowledge of plant medicine. The snake also sometimes plays the part of the rainbow (Bogorodica) You can read about this fascinating, still existing legend here at: www.leluya.org/mythology/bogorodica





 Contrary to stereotypes, snakes for the most part are not known to be cigarette smokers, but rather prefer pipes according to studies.



 

 "The Star of Life"- Snakes entwined the staffs both of Hermes (the Caduceus) and of Asclepius, where a single snake entwined the rough staff. On Hermes' caduceus, the snakes were not merely duplicated for symmetry, they were paired opposites. (This motif is congruent with the phurba.) The wings at the head of the staff identified it as belonging to the winged messenger, Hermes, the Roman Mercury, who was the god of magic, diplomacy and rhetoric, of inventions and discoveries, the protector both of merchants and that allied occupation, to the mythographers' view, of thieves. It is however Hermes' role as psychopomp, the escort of newly-deceased souls to the afterlife, that explains the origin of the snakes in the caduceus since this was also the role of the Sumerian entwined serpent god Ningizzida, with whom Hermes has sometimes been equated.
Source:wikepedia.org.




Snakes were regarded as wise, intelligent, and in some sources I read about were considered good luck, and a symbol of wisdom, fertility, virility and youth. In some instances even a symbol of sexual prowess and as an aphrodisiac. Snakes are also a good friend to man in many ways that we don’t acknowledge or appreciate. Snakes feed on many animals that spread disease, plagues, and ruin crops. Animals like mice, rats, and other furry cute looking disease festering sore spreading critters and creepy crawlies. Their multi-coloured shiny skin is really something to behold, with all the various intricate patterns and the way their bodies become like something liquidy as they move across the ground in that sideways "S" pattern. Their mesmerizing unblinking eyes and probing tongue, which is actually sort of like a 3rd eye, sensing exactly where you are and where you are moving towards, reading your mind, telling you things, tempting you with stories and secrets from before the dawn of time, knowing where you sleep and at what time you turn the lights off. (Just remember to run to the bed right away and not look at what's under the bed, just put the covers over your feet right away) ..But now I'm babbling boys and girls.

Anyway, I think the whole snakes getting a bad rap thing started with that whole Adam and Eve story. It seems some old sheepherder guy who couldn't get it up, or most likely just some crazy ol' hoot hermit who lived in a smelly cave thousands of years ago, had a whole bunch wacky mixed up ideas...(I read somewhere they used to habitually ingest large amounts of hallucinogenic plants and herbs in those days and then decided to start writing the first things that came into their mind) ..one of which was that some talking snake or serpent is the cause of all the world's troubles because he made some people eat a fruit from a tree when they were hungry.

That story really gained a lot of exposure a few hundreds of years ago when religious people were running countries and empires, (and if you didn't believe it, your life was going to be very difficult, to say the least)...but it especially gained exposure with the advent of cable television, all day Sunday, late night and even 24 hour televangelist channels. Even though it’s supposed to be a serpent, religious art over the centuries has always portrayed it as your friendly neighbourhood snake. Slithering up the tree all majestic–like, tricking Eve to eat some apple. One bite of the fruit and humanity was doomed. (DOOOOOMED! I tell ya!!). Funny thing though, the opposite Jesus character in these boringly long stories of people whining, dying of plagues, turning to salt and staring at the sky all the time and yelling "Why oh Why? bla bla bla"...has also been represented by a snake/serpent, so figure that one out. (It's true, you can Google that). What if the snake was really Jesus afterall? What if he tricked Adam, Eve and God so that he could start a new religion and become God himself down the road. What if the snake became a ventriloquist behind a bush that was on fire and started giving some old guy crazy whacked out ideas about not picking up sticks or not eating yummy pork chops or they would go to Hell? (Anyway, even though it says fruit, everyone always thinks it was a big shiny red apple. However it was most probably a pear or peach, and even after some recent archeological findings, it could be quite possibly a Croatian Pear (Kruška), Plum (Šljiva) or a Chinese mandarin orange possibly)





The Michelangelo version of the Adam, Eve and Snake fable.




The always popular Adam, Eve and Snake Hallowe'en costume. (See, it's always an apple. You know why it's always an apple don't you?)




 William Blake's visual interpretation of the story.




Adam, Eve and Snake humour.




 Also on the humourous side, here's a photo of just a plain ol' nosy dumbass (aka "Jebo ti pas mater glupi lajav majmun jedan.") who's probably getting what he deserves. (You can click onto the link HERE to help with the pronunciation). What was he thinking? Somehow I have a feeling this guy is:





A) One of those faggotry scared Calgary librarians trying to be cool.(I just love being able to use that word these days on my blog, totally apropos. All thanks to one of my favorite Croatians, former Miss Croatia, Josipa Kusic)

B) One of those Calgary Starbucks or other coffee shop army clone/jelly donut eating, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream salesman shirt wearing Mormon Jonas Brothers/Menudo hybrid listening stooges.(Or is it New Kids On The Block? I always get them 2 mixed up. Are they the same people?)

C) Just your typical everyday peanut butter and jelly sandwich/hot dog/Doritos eating goof derp fucko who stuck his nose where it had no business being.

D) Your typical religious weirdos trying to miraculously turn a snake into a twig.

E) A Salvation Army staff/security guard shit for brains who thought snakes like to be teased like the drunken winos who sleep under the bridge.

F) Your typical frequent Winners/The Bay/The Gap/Walmart/Best Buy/Office Depot shopper who likes to gossip and tell tall tales.

G) A Canadian/American Idol contestant. (Whats the dif?)

H) A Calgary surburban pleated pant wearing yuppie loudmouth jerkoff who thinks he knows it all, still hasn't matured past grade 9, and deserves much worse, who is also in the hunt for the lead role in the Canadian version of the film "American Pie" Part 7.(The Undisovered Pie)

I) someone who should have stayed home and watched the Price Is Right.

J) Answers B and D

K) All of the above.(Job well done Mr Snake, bravo, svaka čast)






The very popular x-mas tree/holiday lawn ornament. (A very hot seller in Wisconsin and Idaho for some strange reason. Don't ask me why they have blood all over their hands)




So there you have it. Now my readers will know exactly where I stand in regards to snakes in the animal kingdom, and my opinion about having them as pets. Also, a final point to maybe think about, I ask this question. How many people have you heard about being bitten by a dog? And on the other hand how many people have you heard about being bitten by a snake? Usually only snakes get television exposure when it comes to that topic. So that's my little addition and commentary about the topic of snakes......





 "Lilith" by John Collier






An introductory lesson on how to handle a Corn Snake.





Some hints on which kind of Snake to buy as a pet.




Some amazing footage of a person turning into a real snake live right before your very eyes, it's amazing.




Lastly, before you decide to run out and buy a snake, it's important to remember boys and girls, please don't sit on your snake or squeeze it too hard or it will think you're attacking it. It's best to not try to ride it because it is a snake after all, not a unicorn or mermaid.





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