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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wildlife Wednesday: Snake Eater

My first encounter with a live snake was as a toddler. It crept up into the yard on our ranch and one of our dogs had it backed up against a tree. I didn't know what it was - or that I had any reason to be afraid of it - so I walked up to look at it. My dad caught me in time and yelled in a way that I had never heard him yell before. It was fear - fear that his young son was about to tangle with a deadly wild animal. He grabbed me roughly and took me into the house where he retrieved a pistol, went back outside, and emptied it into the snake. That was also the first time I'd ever heard gunfire.
That experience, I think, contributed to my being something of an ophidiophobe, exacerbated by the fact that I grew up in snake country. (I've actually been struck at by rattlesnakes twice. Luckily, they both had poor aim. Or I was quick. Maybe both.) When Disney's animated Jungle Book aired on television in my area, it was often preceded by a Chuck Jones cartoon based on another Rudyard Kipling tale - this one about a mongoose who fearlessly battled snakes: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. I immediately identified with the furry little creature.

RIKKI TIKKI TAVI by VideoDetective
I have gotten over most of my fear of snakes over the years, and I have even come to appreciate these marvelous creatures, but I am still fascinated by the mongoose and its ability to take on a deadly viper . . . and win.

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