Labor Day, the unofficial last weekend of summer, is next Monday. Families and friends will join together. In some instances, people will congregate outside to have one last cook out in the hot sun. Some may travel to parks. Others may venture out into the woods to celebrate the first day of hunting season. Whatever people’s intention, one thing is certain – snakes are on the move. I encourage everyone to adopt a live and let live attitude in the event of any chance encounters with venomous snakes.
Often times, people hear the buzz of a rattle and immediately adopt a kill or be killed philosophy. People grab something with a long handle and begin to bludgeon, hack, or dismember the startled serpent. After all, in your mind, the only good snake is a dead snake. Or, the only way to alleviate the “danger” of a snake is to kill it – a dead snake is a safe snake.
Unfortunately, Peng Fan also thought a dead snake is a safe snake. Peng Fan was a Chinese chef. He was preparing Indochinese spitting cobra, a rare delicacy in Asia. Peng Fan decapitated the snake to prepare it for cooking. However, the snake, through reflective responses, bit Peng Fan and injected Peng Fan with a lethal dose of venom. Peng Fan died within twenty minutes of the snake bite.
Because snakes are reptiles, when they die they engage in a series of autonomous movements such as crawling, rattling, and biting. Dependent on environmental factors, snakes can exhibit this behavior several minutes after they are killed. That means, snakes can continue to inject harmful venom when, from a biological and common sense perspective, the snake is dead. In other words, a dead snake is just as dangerous as a live snake.
In at least one way, dead snakes pose a greater risk of danger than live ones. When someone sees a live snake, he proceeds with caution. He either leaves it alone or finds a long stick to move the snake or handle the snake. Rarely will he handle the snake with his bare hands. On the other hand, that same person may be bolder to handle a dead snake. After all, the snake is dead. So, he reaches down with his bare hand, grabs the snake, and BAM! The snake’s autonomous response injects a dangerous dose of venom into the unsuspecting person.
Dead snakes bite, too. So, if you see a live snake, leave it alone. Eventually, it will crawl off and you will never see it again. If you see a dead one, use a stick or a shovel to move the snake to an area that children and animals will not disturb it. Live snakes can warn they can be dangerous. Dead ones cannot. Use common sense when in nature and be safe.