Thursday, June 5, 2014

Snake Worries

They say that snakebites are on the increase in Kansas City! Snakebites in 2013 were up by 20 from the year before. So far already 11 people in the metro have been bitten. A little 5 year old girl was bitten by a rattler. Fortunately she is recovering in the hospital and should be okay. But the rise in snake attacks has led the KU Med Center to make plans for opening a Snake Center.

When I was a kid I'd have the occasional nightmare where there were snakes all around me. Oh, the horror and despair of being surrounded by snakes! What a relief then to awaken and remember that I lived in a civilized town where the people had largely conquered nature and we walked the streets without fear that we might suddenly happen upon a writhing, hissing nest of snakes. There was the one time when a big, fat bull snake crawled into our yard and my dad hacked at it with a shovel to kill it---revolting, terrifying!  But the neighborhood kids sat on their bikes talking about it, signaling that it was a rare event, and that was reassuring. No, snakes were not an everyday thing. Even in a small rural town on the western plains, a kid could be fairly secure in knowing that as long as he stayed in town, didn't wander into fields or pastures or creeks, the worst he might encounter would be a garter snake slithering across the schoolyard.

Snakes and snake encounters were novel enough to help mail order companies sell gag gifts like the oh-so-clever snake bowtie:

And the "snakes in a can" bit, wherein a can appears to contain a nutty snack but releases a cloth snake that springs out when the can is opened. Classic.

"Here --would you like some mixed nuts? Go it!

Most people only encounter snakes in pranks and practical jokes. Let's keep it that way.


  1. I was too young to remember, but Mom used to tell the story of the time I "disappeared". I was a toddler, playing in the yard but came up missing. (not the panic that would ensue, these days) So, she went searching and found me walking along the road, almost a quarter mile away.. Seems I was walking the ditch in search of snakes. When she caught up with me, she said my shirt was filled with the little critters. Apparently, I was pretty bummed that she didn't let me keep them.

  2. H.B., ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Actually, why should I be surprised? Of course you had wandered off, looking for snakes. Of course you had a whole mess of them in your shirt!! Only you, cousin! What a great story!!!! Thanks for sharing that.