I’ve never been a big fan of snakes. I hate them. I hate snakes so much, I wish they were all eaten by sharks. And then the sharks were all eaten by bigger sharks, which were then fired into the sun on big rockets.
And don’t give me that “snakes eat vermin” bullshit. Snakes only exist to creep people out. It’s not like we’d get overrun with vermin anyway. Look at the New York City sewers. People flush all kinds of alligators down there, but the city is still overrun with rats.
If they really wanted to solve the New York rat problem, they would have started flinging snakes down in the sewers by the bagful. But they haven’t, so really, how useful can snakes be?
Boom, snake logic.
I was not exactly thrilled when we chose Florida as the next stop in our life adventure. Why not some place like Hawaii, which doesn’t have snakes? Or Ireland, whose snakes were all driven out by St. Patrick?
Or the Arctic Circle? There are no snakes on the Arctic Circle, but was that even an option on the table? Och no, laddie, t’weren’t even mentioned.
(Sorry, my Irish and Scottish dialects all look the same.)
So you can imagine how freaked out I was when I saw an article on the Orlando Sentinel app (“today’s weather: it’s hot!“) that said a man was bitten by a poisonous snake in Winter Park.
I was back in Indiana for a few days, giving talks at Anderson University and Purdue University, when I spotted the article. I very nearly didn’t go back to Florida.
Winter Park is about as built up and paved over an area as you can find in Orlando. It’s sort of like Broad Ripple. A few trees here and there, but other than that, there’s no nature whatsoever.
So the fact that they found a poisonous snake in the area, and a man managed to get bitten by it freaked me out.
This is on top of the news that another man in Apopka, about 18 miles to the west, had lost his King Cobra.
HE LOST! HIS KING! COBRA!
Not only that, but it escaped on September 3rd, and it’s been 26 days, and they still haven’t found it.
(I don’t know if King Cobra is actually capitalized, but if that thing is out there, I don’t want him to think I dissed him by spelling his name with non-capital letters.)
“Oh, but don’t worry,” assured the authorities. “The chances of that snake biting someone are extremely remote.”
So is playing the lottery, but someone always wins.
And then — and then! — the man got bitten by a poisonous snake in Winter Park.
It wasn’t the King Cobra, the Sentinel said. They captured this particular snake.
Oh good, as long as they captured that one. That’s just one tiny snake in a whole writhing ball of poison and venom roiling around my new city, but as long as you caught it, I’m sure everything will be just peachy.
A couple days later, another article clarified that the Winter Park snake was actually another collected snake, a Gaboon viper, and not a wild snake at all. The man who owned it, just like the King Cobra, had all the proper permits and forms. He was feeding it when it bit him.
“See, you have nothing to worry about,” someone told me. “It wasn’t a wild snake in the first place.”
Oh good, that makes me feel so much better!
Maybe that wasn’t a wild snake, but there’s still a freaking King Cobra out there. And what’s worse, there are a lot of people in Orlando who think collecting poisonous snakes is a fun hobby.
I collect typewriters, but if one of those escapes, the worst thing that will happen is it’ll write a book at you! Typewriters aren’t creepy and/or deadly, snakes are. And so are their collectors.
Someone needs to protect us from snake collectors. Maybe Sea World will have a few ideas.
Photo credit: Michael Allen Smith (Creative Commons, Flickr)