Since times immemorial snakes have been seen as living terror and stepping on to one would surely prove to be fatal to any human beings.
This is true for snakes that are venomous.
However, for non-venomous snakes, this isn’t true as their bites seldom kill a human being. In many ancient civilizations, the snake is a symbol of fertility while others think that sculpted snake or ones that are made of metal can drive all evil forces and bring prosperity to the natives.
In some religions, like Hindu, snakes are worshipped. Yet despite all these for most people see snakes as highly dangerous and a definite threat.
Studies by experts have revealed that snakes are more afraid of humans than we are of them. And to add is yet another very interesting fact and that is snakes have numerous enemies and they, therefore, make sure not to attack any creature save those that had accidentally stepped on them. It is quite true that snakes would attack or bite if disturbed or agitated.
So, what are snakes afraid of? Humans are one of the biggest threats to most snakes and will go out of their way to avoid us. As to whether they actually feel fear or any sort of emotion is debatable, but they will defend themselves if a threat is present. This defense may involve flight or fight, depending on the nature of the snake or the threat presented.
Snakes as Predators
All snakes are patient and kill with the help of their venom or by way of constriction. Snakes that are venomous may wait for any length of time with stillness that is perhaps unmatched in the animal world.
Some snakes bury themselves under sand or dry fallen leaves while others wait upon the trees and quickly slide down the moment they hear their prey walking past the tree. The latter are mostly constrictors like boa or python and they are said to take down even large preys too such as deer and boars.
Unlike the constrictors, the venomous snake has a deadly bite situated in its fangs. It kills its prey by bite alone and when bitten the prey such as toad, rodents or squirrels quickly becomes lethargic or die due to asphyxia, heart failure or nerve failures. This mostly happens within a few feet only and the snake then starts to swallow its prey slowly, head first.
Some snakes like a rattlesnake, black mamba, kraits, vipers or the King Cobra are thought to be deadly and humans ought to keep a distance from these reptiles. While considering the dosage of venom contained within a millimeter each drop the ocean snakes are by far the most venomous known to man.
Constricting snakes coil their bodies over their victim and suffocates it to death and then swallow it whole. Its backward-pointing teeth support this excellently and during the process, the snake’s lower jaw is disengaged so as to make a good passage for its prey to pass through. After the prey is swallowed the lower jaw is again brought back to its earlier position.
In the case of venomous snakes, usually the poison gland lies above the teeth and the venom trickles down a tiny groove in the tooth. Some snakes have these fangs in front of the upper jaw and have an enclosed canal whereby the venom is imparted on to the prey.
Some snakes, on the other hand, spit out venom so as to blind the victim or make it lay paralyzed.
Snakes as Preys
Snakes swallow numerous preys and the chief amongst them are rodents, small birds, eggs and other small animals. It is seen that the venom actually aids in the digestion of their food. The venom although fatal when bitten does no harm to the snake. It is also seen that this venom also have no effect on other venomous snakes too.
Yet venom or no venom snakes easily become prey to a variety of creatures. They are most vulnerable when they are only a few months old or just hatched out of their eggs. Smaller snakes fall prey to hawks, owls, coyote, raccoons, secretary bird, and other snakes.
Some snakes like the King Cobra love to feed on other snakes including their own although their menu may also contain rodents, foxes, boars, and other smaller animals. T
hey have been seen to be cannibalistic in their behavior and therefore a dangerous threat to their young offspring as well as even adult King Cobras. In such cases, the larger King Cobra usually swallows the smaller ones. They have a particular liking for rat snakes and any other smaller venomous or non-venomous snakes.
Most snakes, therefore, have a fear for the King Cobra. A female King Cobra usually incubates her eggs and as soon as she sees her eggs ripen and ready to hatch, she quickly moves away lest she starts to swallow them too.
Dangers Abound for Snakes
Contrary to popular perception, the snake is nothing supreme and fearful to the core but has some unique enemies. These are for both non-venomous and venomous ones.
One is the honey badger while the other is the mongoose found throughout Africa and Asia. These two give a horrible time for the snakes and unless the snake happens to be a large python or King Cobra the odds are quite unfavorable for the snake. The python and King Cobra may easily fend off an attack due to their sheer size while others find it a little difficult.
The honey badger is a fearless carnivore and nature has provided it with a very thick skin that is not easy to dent or allow snake venom to go inside the skin. It is pretty good at killing snakes and other small animals. It has a powerful jaw that could easily crush the head of viper or cobra.
However, it is no match for the unique snake hunter, the mongoose. The mongoose is a pretty good champion when taking on snakes. They have a specialized skin that has acetylcholine receptors in it so that it is immune to snake’s poison. It also has a thick coat of fur that can easily thwart any swift fangs containing venom.
But the most dangerous killer of snakes on the planet is not the above, but man alone. There are frequent reports of habitat destruction and forests and hence the snake population has reduced to a great extent. However, due to vanishing natural habitat many venomous and non-venomous snakes have taken their shelters inside human dwellings or near to it posing a threat to life.
Frightening Surroundings for Snakes
The snakes that have taken shelter in and outside human dwellings both in cities and villages are the most to be watched out for. All snakes are afraid of human beings, but this doesn’t mean they would attack when agitated.
They never much difference in their natural surrounding and their newfound place near men. This is because where there are humans then there is food available and this naturally attracts rodents and other small animals which in turn are the food for snakes.
Then there are snakes like the King Cobra that would kill and swallow a rat snake that eats on rodents on the farmyard a definite friend of the farmers. Hence, a balance is lost as without the natural killers like rat snake there would be an explosion of the population of rodents. Other snakes do eat these rodents yet they may pose a threat to human life as well.
Habitat Improvement and Professional Catchers
If you need snakes to keep away from human dwelling then you need to improve their habitat and perhaps even recover them. Most snakes do not want to live with humans and therefore their preferred habitat is a forest area where they can have plenty of prey. There are professional catchers who do a great job of catching snakes that have taken shelters in homes and other places near to human.
They catch these reptiles and then release them into the wild so that both man and snake may go different ways without confronting one another. Snakes ought to be there in the ecosystem as they are essential for keeping the prey population in check and help in the overall improvement of the forest area.
Some snakes are kept in confinement so that their venom could be extracted and used as anti-venom injections. This is mainly for people who have been bitten by snakes. It would do a lot of help if the victim of such bites could identify the exact snake species so that the anti-venom of the right snake could be injected.
It must be noted that anti-venom from a wrong snake could result in complications although there are experts in the field of snake study that know the type of snake from looking at the wound itself. Nowadays you find several clinics across the country and cities for giving the right kind of treatment from snake bites.
Usually, a person may have to get admitted into the hospital at least an hour before the bite happens as some snakes are so venomous that they may not give you that much of time as by then your nerves and heart stops.