Monday, November 2, 2009

Is it poisonous?

Every time I do a snake presentation or show off any of my snakes the question comes up. Is it poisonous?

The answer is no. I don't keep any poisonous snakes, and I probably never will. Why? It's not because I'm afraid. I'm much more afraid of vicious dogs than venomous snakes. Rather, it's because I understand venomous snakes, their tendencies and their capabilities. I'm not trained to handle "hots", as they are called. Furthermore, I don't feel I have anything to prove (as a FEW venomous keepers do). Finally, there is always the chance of escape. With a wife and hopefully kids in the future, I would not risk their safety or my own. It's a personal question of responsibility that each keeper must answer for himself or herself.

That said, I have handled one venomous snake. It was a sea snake we found on the beach in Costa Rica. I picked it up with a short stick (to avoid giving my new wife a heart attack on our honeymoon). After I was done examining it and taking pictures, I revealed to her the fact that it has one of the deadliest venoms on Earth, although it rarely bites humans.

I also held a monocled cobra once, bare-handed, but it was a venomoid (which means it's venom glands had been surgically removed), so I don't count that one. Although I will say that it is a high-strung snake, prone to hissing, puffing and jerking. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

If I ever kept venomous, it would probably be eyelash vipers, gaboon vipers, coral snakes and/or copperheads. I consider all these to be among the most beautiful of animals. A few rattlesnake species are also amazing.

As cool as some of the hots are, my hands are full caring for my collection of colubrids and pythons.

So, to recap: Is it poisonous?


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