Wednesday, July 02, 2008

snake in the bathroom

There’s a snake in the bathroom, what are you gonna do there’s a snake in the bathroom has it come for you? No, it came for the toads. It gave me a fright though, turning on the light and seeing a bright red snake with a black head and a yellow band on its neck searching out corners, completely unperturbed by the light or my presence. I on the other hand was rather perturbed. I hadn’t seen this one before but red, black and yellow is a coral snake’s signature and I had told myself that the single black and yellow band could be juvenile colouring. Coral snakes aren’t aggressive but they are deadly and I didn’t really want share the bathroom with one. I played with the idea of catching it but this was not the time. I wished it well and told it not to return, and kept my eye peeled.
But it wasn’t a coral snake. It was a juvenile mussurana. Mussuranas are ‘good’ snakes to have around, because even though this one was looking for toads, they mostly eat other snakes. They are venomous with rear fangs and they constrict. They attack by lunging themselves at their prey coiling around it and biting to paralyze. The incredibly noxious venom of even the baddest of the bad vipers doesn’t harm it. Scientists are studying mussuranas and the Brazilian government is considering special breed and release centres for them as a snake control tool. But surely we remember what happens to such plans (cane toads in Australia, perch in the Canadian lakes, to name just two manmade natural disasters). Anyway I wish now I hadn’t told it not to return, hopefully it wasn’t listening.