Is a Monster Snake in Hand Worth Two in the Bush?
Posted by Richard Conniff on February 25, 2013
Since we seem to be on the topic of doing crazy things with snakes, take a look at this photo from herpetologist Bill Lamar. One more thing to give us all nightmares. He and I once traveled together on a National Geographic assignment about tarantulas. (You can read about it in my book Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time. Correction: It’s in my book Spineless Wonders, now out of print, but I am working on an ebook edition.) I vividly recall a dismal rainy night that we spent about 45 kilometers outside Iquitos, Peru, digging up tarantulas in a downpour.
When we got back to our truck, it would not start again, and we spent that night in and around it with assorted live tarantulas, which seemed utterly innocuous by then. But Lamar had also collected a live coral snake in a clear plastic bag, which took some getting used to. All night people woke up from their bad dreams to ask, “Donde es el naca naca?” or “Where’s the damned coral snake?”
We tied the bag to the handle over the passenger door, where the entomologist found the direct eye contact disconcerting, then tucked it into the glove compartment, until someone concluded that the glove compartment probably had not been designed to be snake-tight. Then we heaved it with considerable relief onto the muddy road outside, until it occurred to us that we might now step on it in the course of our nocturnal wanderings.
But seeing this photo, I am just glad now that he did not find a bushmaster that night instead.