Not-All-That-Deadly Snakes

Animal Planet keeps running these ads–“King Cobra! Anaconda! Two Deadly Snakes!” and I keep grumbling to myself about it. So damnit, I’m gonna bitch.

King cobras may well be deadly snakes. I have no problem with that. I think they probably will leave you alone if you don’t accidentally step on ’em, but I wouldn’t neccessarily want to live in the same room with one for an extended period. I have a great deal of respect for things with poison. But I feel indignant on behalf of the anaconda.

Everything I know about snakes I learned from my father, who raised boa constrictors for many years and taught me that snakes are not scary, but should be respected at all costs. (Occasionally you may want to respect them from across the room and behind glass, mind you.) And one of the things that I learned, via an endless succession of bunnies vanishing down slow pink maws, was that even a really enormous contrictor, while it may be able to squeeze you uncomfortably, just can’t eat all that big a meal. A fifteen foot boa, while weighing rather a lot, is generally content with a bunny. Yes, a reticulated python (one of the ones best respected from a safe distance) can be a cantankerous snake and may sink a tooth into an idiot human who has been recently handling rats and smells of prey, but they don’t eat ’em. They couldn’t even begin to get one down. And anacondas, by all accounts, being boas, are much more mild-mannered than reticulated pythons.

So I kinda resent the characterization of anacondas as deadly. Yes, they can eat an immature tapir or a capybara, yes, wild pig, sure, and if you threw a hungry one a toddler, I can’t say it wouldn’t be able to eat it. But if we’re going by “Could eat a toddler if it was hungry,” then practically everything’s deadly, especially dingos, and I don’t see Animal Planet running “One Deadly Canine! Baby-eating dingos attack!” Yes, there have been a few reports of people attacked by anacondas. However, there are rather more substantiated, well-documented reports of people killed by ostriches every year, and no one begins advertising the ostrich as a feathered killing machine.

So that’s my gripe on behalf of the poor anaconda, which really doesn’t deserve the rap, damnit.

Leave a Reply