Not too much time to do anything other than repair last night’s damage, so here’s something I spotted on the Snakes of South Africa FB page earlier.

Yes, obviously it’s about snakes. If you’re frightened of snakes, maybe look away now or something, although, given the title of this post, what were you thinking clicking through anyway?

It concerns the photography of a python. Because pythons are apparently misunderstood:

There is a great deal of myth about pythons, especially with regards to attacks on people. Pythons in Africa do kill people, but rarely so. There are as few as 3 proven cases where people were killed by pythons in Africa in the past 100 years+.

Well, ok, fair enough.

FB_IMG_1461514677140But they can still give you a nibble right? Uh-huh.


Apparently, this is “a willing volunteer”. His name is Shawn. Right. I was once a willing volunteer for something far more dangerous than this, but it didn’t involve being bitten by a snake. That’s just silly. Haven’t you heard that they have a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth and the ability to inflict very nasty bites, often resulting in stitches?
You hadn’t?

Pythons do have a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth and have the ability to inflict very nasty bites, often resulting in stitches. The reason is that people pull the pythons off and the sharp teeth rip through skin.

Well, there you go.
But yes, folks. It’s the pulling off of the python which causes the injuries, rather than the actual bite. So next time you’re bitten by a python, just leave it hanging on whatever bit of your body it’s hanging on and wait for the feeding response to subside and it’s grip to subside. I don’t know how long this takes, but if it’s not hours, then it must at least feel like hours. If it is hours then it probably feels like more hours than it actually is.

To finish the set on the FB page, there was an image of Shawn holding the snake’s mouth open for one last snap of those lovely teeth.



And (at the time of blogging this), the only comments on that picture?

What flash are you using there?

and the reply:

That’s a Canon MT24EX. Best macro flash there is.

Yeah – because the Canon MT24EX is the most striking thing about that photograph (I’m being sarcastic, but actually it does have some fantastic reviews). What are these people thinking? Why no mention of the copious amounts of claret cascading down Shawn’s manly forearms? And what of Shawn? Is that a look of scientific curiosity on his face there or is he grimacing, wondering why the actual funk he is spending his Sunday morning flat out on the African dirt bleeding from wrist to elbow?

If I were him, I’d be thinking three things:

1. What braai’ed python tastes like.
2. How deep I would be burying the photographer’s body. and…
3. How much I should put the Canon MT24EX on Gumtree for.

I hope Shawn has learned a valuable lesson about volunteering. And some stuff about pythons.

UPDATE: Please see Shawn’s comments in the appropriately-named “Comments” section below.

4 thoughts on “Snakes

  1. Good morning,
    I really wish that you had also posted the after picture. You know, the one after I had rinsed off the blood, showing the lack of damage. This morning it looks no worse than having played rough with a domestic house-cat. Superficial at the very best.

    How do I share pictures on here? Hehehe. Snakes are indeed very misunderstood, and I most certainly would not even dream of attempting anything like this with anything that can cause me serious injury.

    The snake that participated in this “demonstration” measured around 1.5m in length, so was also still a youngster when compared to individuals pushing 5m – 5.5m in length.

    Regarding waiting for the snake to release its grip, there are far easier ways to get a snake or monitor lizard to release its grip. A drop of vinegar (providing you have it on hand) right in the mouth, ensures an instantaneous release, with no risk of breaking off any teeth or injury to the animal.

    Even though this snake had every reason to be upset with me and inflict the worst possible damage on me, all it wanted was for me to leave it alone so it can escape.

    PS: No animals, or volunteers, were injured during the documentation of this.

    Kind regardsssssss….

    Shawn Hefer

  2. Ash > You’re right. I didn’t. 😮

    Shawn Hefer > Thanks for getting in touch, and for taking this post in the spirit that it was (hopefully obviously) intended.
    First off, yes, let’s share that “after” photo:

    After the python bites

    Thanks also for the details on the snake. The reason I follow your FB page is to learn more about what we might find around our place in Agulhas, and to educate myself and the kids. For example, I will now be carrying round a 5l tub of Malt Vinegar. Handy not just for releasing biting pythons but also handy for my slap chips. (Yes, I know, no pythons in Agulhas, but it pays to be prepared.)

    No worse than a house cat? Yeah – that’s why we don’t have a house cat.
    (Don’t ask why we have a beagle. Lots of people ask that and I can never find a satisfactory answer.)

    Seriously, thanks for sharing this – fascinating stuff, as ever.

  3. It is a huge pleasure!! Feel free to contact me with anything Reptile related.

    PS: I’m emailing you two shots from this morning quick, (1 with flash, one without) to re-confirm that it was not nearly as serious as people make this out to be.

    Yes, all taken in good humor!

    PSS: Any idea what I can get for that camera? 😉

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