Snake! How I feel about those who kill these creatures 371



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It was a January day of crackling heat. Twigs and dry leaves snapped underfoot and the soil was hot to walk on. We were at Lake Parramatta, which is not really a lake at all but a bend in the river. We were a family of four: husband, wife, a three year old girl and a baby girl of eight months and we lived in a small brick house with no fans. Air conditioning had yet to be invented. I should correct that. It had been invented but was not yet available for domestic use.

We were lucky enough to possess a battered, rusty old car and had driven to the river to find some relief as the temperature soared to 100°F. I spread a rug on the ground in the shade and sat the baby there with a collection of toys. My husband took Lynette down to the shallow part of the river and she began to splash about with no fear and no thought of danger.

I remember it as being the weekend and young people had thronged to the same destination. Boys held races and showed off their diving prowess. Girls took part too but did not compete with the boys, preferring their own races.

I heard frantic shouts of “Snake! Snake!” and people began splashing to the river bank and hurrying from the water. A short distance away I could see the writhing creature making its way through the ripples. I called Lynette but she took no notice of me, enjoying the coolness and adventure of the river. My husband had gone back along the river to move our car into the shade and I could not leave the baby to go into the water and get my little girl.

“Lynette, there’s a snake in the water. Come on out”. My little daughter looked at me as if to say, “A snake, so what?” She continued to enjoy her splashing and paddling but when other people were leaving the water she decided to come out too. She was the last to leave the water.

As I wrapped a towel around her I told her about the snake but she was unimpressed, simply asking, “When can I go back in?”

I became aware of more shouting as boys began to hit at the water with sticks. Finally someone lifted the snake out of the water with a tree branch and a triumphant group beat the creature to death. “Red-belly!” they declared as the dead snake was thrown onto the back of someone’s utility.

I felt a strange sorrow as I remembered a picnic day when I was four years old. The picnic was held in a bush reserve near Blayney, where we lived. During the afternoon my father took me by the hand and said, “Come and see the snake”. He took me to where a dead snake was hanging from a tree.

When I asked my father why it had been killed he said, “Well, it might bite someone”. I was still puzzled; how did they now it might bite someone?

Like Lynette, I had no idea of danger. To me at four years of age, snakes were interesting. Fear is a learned emotion, as is love, and courage and even revenge. When there is no sense of danger, there is no fear. I am still dismayed that humans feel they must kill something – just in case.

At the end of the afternoon at Lake Parramatta we packed up and walked back to the car, passing the utility where the dead snake lay, still writhing,

It lay like a bundle of jewels in the back of the utility. It was still wet and pools of water around it sparkled like diamonds. Its skin was the red of rubies and the black of onyx. This beautiful creature had been killed for no reason at all.
Ever since the serpent tempted Eve, humans had held snakes in contempt but they are creatures of grace and beauty and deserve at least some respect.

Winsome Smith

I am well and truly over sixty. My great passions are reading and writing and I have written twelve books. I have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and two of my books are embarrassing stories about the doings of my grandchildren. Embarrassing to them, but humorous to me. I enjoy the Starts at Sixty website and believe that over sixties have much to say…

  1. Yes snakes were ment to get rid of rodents which we still have plagues of. Sorry I know I will upset animal Libs and nature lovers but the old saying the only good snake is a dead snake is still true.

    24 REPLY
    • Nope, don’t agree. We had a red belly in our garden last year (we are in suburbia), called a snake catcher who looked for an hour but couldn’t find it. He said not to worry, with a red belly here we won’t have rodents or an eastern brown as they kill them. To my knowledge the snake is possibly still here but haven’t seen it. We also have a python in the area that is seen now and again …..gotta love nature!

    • I beg your pardon! Have you heard the adage, if you can’t say something nice about someone close your mouth and say nothing!

    • I agree with you Molly if they are near the house they are dead if out in the paddock they went on their way

    • No Henry Doering, Molly Holland is definitely NOT a silly old woman. I 100% agree with her & I know plenty of others would agree. There is absolutely no reason to be so rude.

    • Snakes breed like flies on the smell of an oily rag. There are plenty of snakes more than people just like there are more kangaroos in Australia than there are people.

    • Snakes are beautiful creatures… Why do people wish everything dead..??It’s a permanent situation…

    • I’m with Henry, Molly if the hat fits wear it. Why do the animals we don’t like need to be killed. Snakes are a part of nature and they are integral to the balance of life. Further, have you not heard that is against the law to kill snakes.

    • I’m with you Henry. I am terrified of snakes but they don’t deserve to be killed for no good reason.

    • A friend found a snake in her house last week. A professional snake catcher came out, caught it and released it into the bush. There was absolutely no need to kill it! (and there was no actual charge as it was a free service – she just made a voluntary donation).

    • I think leave well alone. They have their place on the planet and so do I. If in danger its a different scenario yet again, but destroying life isn’t my thing.

    • I remember as a child standing with my foot on the head of a red bellied black snake waiting for my cousin to bring help….finally both the snake and i got very tired of tge stand of and i lifted my foot slightly and the snake very quickly slithered away. Had my cousin remembered my plight and brought help the snake would have been killed. I was 6 at the time am now 73 and had all these years to comtemplate this an i have decided that both the snake and i showed one another a little mercy and that the snake really did have the right to feel a little angry after being stood on for over an hour.

    • It’s those idiot that have reduced the snake population thus the rodents thrive ..doesn’t take a genius to work that out.

    • You people make me sick, how dare you make such horrible comments snakes were created and have a right to live, this world is dysfunctional WHY because of humans not snakes or other animals get a brain all you negative people. I am scared of snakes but would never kill one it’s more frightened of me then I am of it.

  2. If you or someone else or your pets are in danger have the snake removed or if this isn’t possible it may need to be killed.

  3. If you see a snake don’t go near it walk away, if you are unfortunate enough to be bitten worry more about yourself and getting help than the snake

  4. We had a red belly black in long grass at our retirement village in Albury. My wife was going to shift the hose, and only for two magpies squrking and swooping at it she probably would have stood on it. We reckon the magpies were warning her. End of story it was killed. Yes I think in residential areas they should be disposed of but let them go in their own envioroment.

    1 REPLY
  5. I was often told the story of a tiger snake crawling up the leg of my bassinette. Mum grabbed and my grandmother disposed of the snake. This all happened indoors some 76 years ago.

  6. Snakes and spiders should be no thicker than 2mm and preferably coloured metho blue.
    Most of the snakes I have seen have been in school grounds near children

  7. Had a 3′, tiger in my garage yesterday, just put some loud thumping vibrating music on and it bailed out.

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