Friday, 7 August 2015


are a part of Downunder life. We have the world's most venomous snakes on our territory. They  do not merely hide in the scrub or "the bush" but infiltrate suburbia. They love undergrowth. They can climb too.
I am writing this because I have just seen a picture of someone I "know" holding a boa constrictor. The boa constrictor may be fine but I still wouldn't be happy to be near it. I do not like snakes.
When I was a kitten, a very small kitten, I was taught about snakes. My siblings were too. We were told they were dangerous from the time we were old enough to understand. We were taught never to pick up a stick - just in case that "stick" turned out to be something much more sinister. Even a small "stick" can administer a fatal bite. 
We roamed the countryside despite the snakes. We knew to tell adults if we saw one and we saw fewer than one might expect but we did see them. 
I can remember being warned about them before I went to school but I don't remember what precautions were taken then. 
I do remember what happened when we moved to a tiny rural community. I was ten at the time and we were being shown the two teacher school my parents were going to be responsible for. There was a school bell on a post outside the senior classroom. Next to it there was a long piece of wire with a special loop at one end.
"That's for the snakes," the chairman of the school committee told the Senior Cat, "Don't try and catch them yourself. Ask..... (he named some boys) to do it for you."
I remember too the day Brother Cat had taken the Senior Cat's cup and saucer to be washed at the school water trough. (No such thing as a tap in the school building.) Suddenly there was a clatter and then a scream, "Snake!" The boys who had been named caught a snake almost as long as they were tall. It was a deadly "brown snake". If my brother had been bitten he would not be here today. The boys calmly caught the snake and killed it. They cut the head off and gave the rest of us a lesson in just how dangerous it was by showing us where the venom was. I still shudder when I think of it. My brother was sent back to pick up the pieces of what had once been a cup and saucer.
We occasionally gets snakes here. They will travel considerable distances from the  hills behind us. 
In the city you are expected to call the snake catcher if you notice a resting one. You alert the neighbours. Children and other animals are kept indoors if it is seen outside.  Snakes will enter buildings. They can get into the most extraordinary places. There is a myth that snakes will not attack if you leave them alone. The reality is otherwise.
Stay well away.


Carole Blake said...

Proud to have sparked one if your posts, but sorry to have stirred unpleasant memories. I was handling that boa constrictor under controlled conditions, and supervision.

catdownunder said...

I can live with the memories Carole. I would hope you were being very well supervised!