Monday, April 7, 2014

Whatsoever goeth upon the belly

I'se in yer Mt. Plastic, drinkin' up all yer mimosas.
So a Gaboon Viper is on the loose in Mt. Pleasant, and it made folks a bit uneasy as they sipped their mimosas during Sunday brunch. Faux beaus everywhere suddenly became a little less country at the idea of this quite dangerous African snake slithering around near the Bridge Run.

Had the critter been released in Spartanburg or some of the other surrounding Upstate areas, I'm quite sure it would have set off a county-wide snake hunt, and the first one to corral the little bastard would have been given the garage door opener to the city.

Most Southerners become accustomed to growing up around snakes, and children are taught at an early age to look down at the ground when traipsing through the woods. This lesson saved me from a few snakebites in my day, including the time I encountered a 4-foot copperhead sunbathing near one of our Beagle pens as I hosed them down.

We're also taught to take care where we stick our hands when it comes to sorting through brush and woodpiles, a lesson that my father forgot a few years ago. It earned him a bite from a one-fanged copperhead on his pinky finger. About a year later, the family Labrador battled the very same one-toothed beastie. Although it tagged her on the snout and left a scar, Molly emerged victorious.

I'm sure Northern city folk have other worries, but poisonous snakes in the wild--or any snake, for that matter--aren't high on their list. Last year, when relatives came down from Cincinnati and we headed to the backyard for the usual Spartanburg tradition of blasting targets with our assortment of firearms, I watched as the entire Northern extension of my family walked right by a 5-foot black snake without any of them spotting the critter.

In the South, there is only one sentence for a snake that crosses our paths: Death. We were armed to the teeth, so justice was swift.

I know this upsets some folks, particularly any animal lovers out there. Sure, we understand that snakes make good predators for rats and other critters. But a snake in the yard can often lead to a snake in the garage, a snake in your pet's pen, or even a snake in the house. For example, the two enormous black snakes I caught doin' the nasty in my parents' basement.

On our property, snakes were a particular danger to the Beagle puppies we raised and the rabbits we tried to keep alive. We didn't fear them like Jimbo did; nay, we rained down death. But there's still plenty around the South to keep the population up.

But a Gaboon Viper? Nah, I'm good. Happy hunting, Mount Pleasant.

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