Noodles? Yes! Danger? Not So Much!

Yesterday, I attended an Event a bit unlike any I had attended before. My friend Moosiegirl hosted one devoted to snake identification and behavior. She had a local professional come out and give a presentation on the types of local snakes and how to tell the venomous snakes (a.k.a. danger noodles) from the non-venomous ones (a.k.a. regular noodles)! Being that we spend a lot of time communing with or confronting nature, using Events for nature talks and demonstrations seems like a no-brainer. Why haven’t I seen Events around plant identification or other similar wilderness-based topics before? I know why I haven’t thought of hosting them, as I am what those in the proverbial sticks would call a “city boy,” but they’re on my mind now.

The main difference between this Event and most is that it was open not just to the caching community but also to snake enthusiasts and the general public. A little more than half the attendees had arrived by the time I got there, with others (mostly families) trickling in during the presentation. Both our host and the speaker told us that their primary interest in snakes was driven by the idea that a living thing shouldn’t have to die just because a person is afraid of it, a laudable sentiment no matter how you feel about wild creatures. The speaker also let us know that he would be focusing on the commonly found snakes of Texas and that the rules and information provided might vary in other parts of the country. And in India and Australia? Fuhgeddaboudit!

The most important point was also the simplest: if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. Snakes tend to leave people alone unless they feel physically threatened with no avenue of escape. Unless you step on one or mess with it to the point of provoking anger, you probably won’t have anything to worry about. Several bits of folk wisdom are actually incorrect. Red before yellow probably won’t kill a fellow because you can count the yearly average number of snakebite-caused deaths on one hand. The sound of rattling really means “Back off!” (not “Strike imminent”). Baby venomous snakes are not more dangerous because they have no control over their venom; they’re less dangerous because they produce much less venom than adults. He also added that most snakes are non-venomous and make great neighbors—eating rats, mice, and other rodents. The smallest ones eat termites and common garden pests, while the larger ones even eat snakes of the venomous variety!

He also brought along an entire menagerie of snakes, the more dangerous ones sealed into their containers with red tape (I’m sure there’s a bureaucracy joke in there somewhere, but I don’t have it yet). We all looked at them to get an idea of their size and variety, but for some reason, the library where the Event was hosted didn’t exactly cotton to live snakes being in their meeting room uncontained. So, we all adjourned outside!

I’m not entirely sure whether I had ever touched a snake before, but I have now! As you can imagine, he did not pull out the rattlesnake because venom is a thing, nor did he pull out the coachwhip because it’s really fast and a pain to catch if it got away. Otherwise, participants of all ages touched and held all manner of snakes. Some of us were slithered all over, up arms and around backs. One person almost had to take one home because it tried to slither into her purse. Even the littlest among us had a fun time touching them. And we all learned a thing or two in the process. Maybe it’s high time you found out what a herpetologist in your area could do for you! You won’t regret it!

One thought on “Noodles? Yes! Danger? Not So Much!

  1. You’ve given me a great idea as I am also starting to get involved in New England with foraging for mushrooms. I’ll have to see now if I can get the guy I’ve gone on walks with to agree to do an event about identification!


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