The snakes-chase-humans myth is probably one of the most common out there. The belief is that some snakes will actively pursue a person with the aim of hurting them.
This couldn’t be further from the truth and I’m going to explain why (And demonstrate in the Video with a Cobra!).
Snakes bite mainly for two reasons – to subdue their prey and for self defense. But as humans do not make up any part of a snake’s diet we can scratch off the first reason from our two pronged list. That leaves us with self defense. Let’s put this into perspective.
Ever Imagined Yourself as a Snake?
Imagine that you’re a snake. You’re lying coiled around the base of a bush warming up in the sun. Suddenly this massive two-legged deadly animal comes walking by. You freeze. You’re hoping that it will walk past. But it gets closer. Before you know it this animal is about to step straight onto your head. Quickly, you hiss loudly, raise your head and spread your neck giving what you feel is a clear warning. Don’t hurt me -leave me alone!
But this animal doesn’t seem to get it. It prods and pokes and the next thing you feel is pain from where the stick has come down heavily on your back. You lash out and just manage to tag this animal’s leg with your fangs. There is a momentary pause but the threat has not been eliminated. This animal comes at you again and again. Your peaceful morning bask in the sun has proved to have been your last.
For no reason except fear.
Fear is the think tank of snake myths. These creative illusions spread and multiply possessing good people to mercilessly kill these innocent animals.
The myths that snakes chase humans is born from this same fear. But it doesn’t make sense. A snake cannot eat a person. Biting someone is more often than not going to lead to the snake’s death as the venom is not instantly lethal (in many cases snakes give what is known as a dry bite – a bite where no venom is injected purposely by the snake).
Why do Snakes Bite People Then?
Instead of striking a snake will often flee. This too is risky as it exposes itself to an attack from behind. In some cases they might even flee in your direction – especially if it has limited options of places to take cover. Understandably this can be scary but moving in the same line as the snake will only make it feel like the snake is after you.
I’ve seen this happen. What you’ll find though is that if you change your course, the snake will move past you and keep heading towards cover. That’s of course if you find yourself running without even knowing when your legs started moving. The best thing would be to stand still or to walk away calmly.
Erratic movements are scary for snakes.
It is important to remember that no snake wants to bite something it is not going to eat. Encounters with people are both stressful and energy consuming. The snake’s primary aim in such a situation is to escape unscathed, with as little energy or precious venom lost as possible.
And demonstrating that, is the purpose of this video.
I promise that I didn’t hypnotise this snake. And as you can see it didn’t chase me. Now I understand that some people may have had experiences where it feels like they’ve been chased. My aim is not to dismiss these feelings but instead to try and shine the torch of perspective.
When a snake is moving quickly in one direction it is trying to flee to avoid conflict. Why? Because like you, it doesn’t want to die.
Have any of your own thoughts, questions or comments about this? Let’s chat about it in the comments section below.
Latest posts by Grant (see all)
- Snake Catcher Diaries: Are Snake Catchers Crazy or Not? - March 31, 2017
- Getting Whipped – by a Karoo Whip Snake! - February 20, 2017
- Even Snakes Get the Blues - February 9, 2017