March 27, 2014 by Karin Fuller

baby_snake_deadpanIn spite of having a wee bit of Irish in my blood, I don’t generally get into St. Patrick’s Day beyond a little wearing of the green. More often than not, I forget even that. In spite of my red-ish hair and freckles, green isn’t the best color on me, so the forgetting part isn’t always accidental.

St. Patrick’s Day seems to be one of the few only mildly commercialized holidays, and it’s fun that we celebrate by talking with fake Irish accents while consuming Kermit-colored beer and wearing a shade of green generally reserved for Marshall or Notre Dame fans. The part that most amuses me is that we’ve created a holiday wrapped around celebrating the eradication of snakes from a country.

Personally, I have nothing against snakes. Granted, I’m not a fan either, and while it’s hard to grasp having a snake as a pet, I wouldn’t kill one even if it managed to get inside my home. Still, there are parts of Florida and Australia I’ll never visit simply because of their snake population.

One of the few good things about snakes is that it’s generally not hard to avoid them. It’s like the bad parts of town late at night. If you don’t go there, you’re usually fine.

I developed something of a tolerance for the creepy creatures by growing up among boys who liked snakes. Or more aptly, among boys who liked putting snakes on me. A girl in such an environment can either become twitchy or she can develop a begrudging appreciation of the slitherers, along with an aptitude for quiet revenge.

A few months back, I was having a conversation with Charlie Feldhake of Raleigh County about reptiles and their personalities when he told me about an encounter he once had with a snake.

“I was walking down a dirt road in the country and saw some commotion up ahead,” wrote Feldhake. “When I got within about 50 feet, I saw it was a four-foot black snake repeatedly striking at another smaller snake on the ground.”

Feldhake recognized the smaller snake to be an Eastern Hog Nose, which are harmless to people.

“The small snake was wiggling around, trying hard to avoid the strikes,” Feldhake said. “When it saw me, it made a bee line straight to me, so I picked it up.”

Feldhake said the little snake seemed relieved to be held, but the black snake wasn’t so thrilled.

“It reared up and hissed at me because I was holding its lunch.”

Although the little hog nose had a bit of blood on it, it hadn’t been seriously hurt by the attack. He took it home, cleaned it up, and then kept it for a few days before releasing it.

“It seemed to understand,” he said. “It was so tame.”

Feldhake believes snakes get a bad rap.

The problem I have with snakes is more one of jealousy. I mean, they essentially do nothing but sunbathe and eat, yet you never hear of one having skin problems or getting chunky. It’s not even possible for their thighs to get thick.

For there to be a holiday dedicated to that sort being run out of the country makes total sense. And those who battle the bulge can raise their pints high in celebration.

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