Snakes have achieved a level of mystery few creatures can rival. That’s probably due, in large part, to their lack of appeal or unsavoriness to the general public. That’s not to say they don’t have legions of fans or admirers, but generally speaking these often feared and frequently misunderstood reptiles are either avoided or sought out for extermination. This has allowed their mysterious air to flourish with those unassociated with herpetology, resulting in countless myths about their existence. Here are three of those myths debunked.
1. Snakes Pursue People
Snakes are actually fascinating creatures — a little creepy, but without a doubt fascinating. Their creepiness factor has likely added to this first myth, and that is that all snakes intentionally chase people. With the exception of a handful of species, such as the bushmaster snake of Central America, that isn’t necessarily true. You see, when a snake is startled its fight or flight instinct kicks in, just like ours. While many people’s first instinct is to flee, other’s is to charge. When sensing danger, a snake will often follow this second path as part of its defense mechanism.
2. Snakes are Completely Devoid of Maternal Instincts
Here’s a fact that doesn’t hold true 100 percent of the time, making it somewhat of myth. Snakes are known for quickly laying their eggs and just as quickly departing, in essence leaving their future hatchlings to fend for themselves. While most species of snake won’t be up for the Mother of the Year Award anytime soon, it’s been discovered that the African rock python not only stays to stand guard over her clutch, but that she keeps her young nearby for the first few months of their tiny lives.
3. Heat Blindness in Snakes
Here’s a myth that probably gained ground from the milky look to their eyes that occurs during the shedding process. When snakes shed their skin they also shed the ocular scales of their eyes — yes, their creepiness factor just went up a notch or two — hence, the milky appearance. While their vision is temporarily compromised throughout this transitional state, their eyesight regains its normalcy as the new ocular scales develop. Regardless, heat has nothing to do with this and they are not blinded but merely visually impaired for a short period of time.
Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of one of nature’s most reviled creatures and makes them a little less fearsome in your mind. Remember, knowledge and understanding can go a long way toward removing the barriers of fear.