Saturday, November 05, 2005


Seven in the morning, cloudless late spring day, and apparently yesterday we had our first snakebite case of the summer.

We get a lot of them here - Florey sees more snakebites than all of the other hospitals in the city combined. I'm not sure why this is, but I suspect a complex epidemiological association between king brown snakes, barefootedness and alcohol, with a bit of backyard cricket thrown in.

Apparently last night's was some girl who kept a small python ("Robbie Williams" ... I don't know and I didn't ask) which she usually fed on mice. Last night Robbie developed ideas above his station and seized her in his jaws. Presumably the next stage would have been throwing a few loops of snake around her and then slowly devouring her. Instead she went to the ED. We gave her antibiotics and sent her home.

Snakes, by the way, are amazingly beautiful creatures. I saw a red bellied black snake a few years back, swimming through the long grass, head aloft like the prow of some ancient ship. There is something about snakes, something you can see in them, like the way you see a sword within a sheath.

The entire story would have been quite different if she had been one of the area's several licenced taipan handlers. For some reason, some people find the thrill of handling large, often venomous non-taipan snakes insufficient, and graduate up to taipans, which are sizeable, deeply venomous and dislike being handled by human beings. Taipans remain unpredictable throughout their life, even after years of experience, a sort of reptilian gelignite.

My feeling is that the vast majority of the time, the animal does not benefit from any interaction between taipan and man.

I read with alarm, by the way, that alcohol is involved in one out of three "deaths by crocodile" in the Northern Territory - usually involving someone swimming in a crocodile infested pool. This means that two out of three people decide to swim in pools that may possibly contain crocodiles while stone cold sober.


Blogger Foilwoman said...

Aside from Animal Planet (which brought us Steve Irwin, someone of whom I expect most Aussies are profoundly ashamed), American TV has a show called "When Animals
Attack" and another called "Most Dangerous [whatever]" (or so close as to make no difference. Inevitably, the show isn't about the animals being dangerous. It's about people being stupid. I think some people have forgotten the ancestral memory that we aren't necessarily at the top of the food chain, and thus don't act accordingly.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Camilla said...

Inevitably, the show isn't about the animals being dangerous. It's about people being stupid.

That sums everything up rather nicely, I think.


Bless you.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Benedict 16th said...

You mean non venomous snakes (See this definition and the justification of just how few* Herpatologists are killed by snakes!)
And this is worth a squizz!

Benny XVI

jovqoxo = ho ho ho I feel like a fat fellow in a big red suit
or drinking beef soup and singing happy songs

*3 or 4 in the last 23 years

9:23 PM  
Blogger Prom said...

Suicide by Croc? I mean other than drunk, why would you swim in a Croc infested pond?

1:22 AM  
Blogger Foilwoman said...

Stupid humanity? Trying for a place in the Darwin awards? A wish to cut off the gene pool?

11:08 AM  
Blogger Chade said...

Are you sure that those other two choose to swim in Croc infested waters? It is a little known fact that people in the Territory are complete lunatics with little to know regard for another human beings safety, bar their blood, and even then it's at a push. Crocs can be seen as a somewhat convenient societal filter that leaves little regard placed upon the person or persons that were with the victim at the time of their 'swim'.

4:35 PM  

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