(this one, for the most repulsive and obnoxious festival of the year): The Annual Rattlesnake Round-Up in Sweetwater, Texas. Now, I’d like to say “Of course — that’s Texas for you”, but unfortunately there are similar round-ups in Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and — oh horror — even New Mexico. Texas simply has the most of such events, and the biggest — proudly called the “World’s Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up”, with about 30,000 visitors each year. Approximately 125,000 rattlers are killed annually, and if you need any reason why such events are cruel and cause unnecessary damage to the environment, please read a paper on the Position of The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Concerning Rattlesnake Conservation and Roundups or watch this YouTube movie (I won’t embed this on my blog).
It is strange that people are so fearful of snakes and think of them as being disgusting; so much so that countless gopher- and other harmless snakes get killed all the time. Yes, some of them are dangerous, but so are lions and tigers and bears — creatures that don’t evoke a feeling of revulsion when people see a picture of them. When I was a kid, I absorbed my mother’s snake phobia — even the mention of snakes would make her shudder with disgust. So I thought, snakes were disgusting.
Only when I traveled through India in my early twenties did I see a real, wild snake — it was emerald green, long and thin, and gracefully moved around the branches of a tree. I was enchanted, and ever since greatly appreciate the presence of snakes.
A few years ago, I came across a rattlesnake on a hike here in New Mexico. The rattling sound was unmistakable, and there the creature was — right in the middle of the path. I thought the warning was very civil, stopped, took some pictures, and continued my hike with a wide detour. I felt no agression coming from the snake, only defensiveness — “You scare me, don’t come any closer, please!”
Strong dislikes, phobias, are rather limiting — they paralyze interest, curb curiosity, prevent knowledge. In the case of agoraphobia for example, this is obvious and sufferers seek therapy in most cases — that is, they try to do something about it. But as far as Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) is concerned, the people I’ve met who claim to fall into this category don’t want to do anything about their condition. They even turn a bit hostile when I say that I like snakes.
They don’t see that they impoverish their world.