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The truth about snakes...

-They say, "leave it alone it'll leave you alone" that is, of course, unless it crawls into your sleeping bag.-

Tuesday night, I found a snake at the date plantation where we have our camp. It was just snuggling up to the collection of large jugs of water by the gate, still warm from the daytime sun. It was quite short and small with a defined diamond shaped head. I snapped a photo so we could identify it later. All the campers were out for a night hike, so I told them the exciting news when they returned. I wasn't sleeping in a sleeping bag, just inside a thick blanket folded like a burrito. I shook it out good and violently before I went to sleep. Snakes around here sometimes slither into sleeping bags during the day to get away from the sun. You're supposed to roll your bag up during the day. Somehow the news of the snake made it to our other, smaller camp at the beach by the following day. Their story claimed the snake was over 5 feet long and was most definitely a viper. We still haven’t figured out how the other camp found out.

I showed Ahmed, the landlord of the camp, the photo the next morning and he told me it wasn’t a problematic snake. He said, “this snake, no problem.” So we forgot about it until the end of the week when the instructors from the beach camp asked to see my photo. They confirmed my suspicion. It was a carpet viper, and yes, it was venomous. I guess no matter where you go, if its got a diamond shaped head, its venomous.
Before freaking out, here’s something to know. With the exception of very few (the black mamba, the king cobra, and most baby snakes) most venomous snakes don’t want to waste their venom defending themselves. If you step on them, kick them, poke them with sticks and they bite you, generally its going to be a “dry” bite, or in other words, a bite with no venom. This is true for copperheads and rattlesnakes in the US. Its still a good idea to go to the hospital but you’ll probably only get some antibiotics to keep the infection down and some pain killers. Your day might not be so nice, but you won’t be dead. And here in Dibba, even if it decides you might be good to eat, the hospital is a 5 minute drive down the road and they have the anti-venom.
Speaking of black mambas, I talked to Devan, the instructor from South Africa about them. I was pretty curious after watching Kill Bill. I don’t think I’ll be taking any extended trips into African wilderness after learning more than I really wish I had about black mambas. You’ve got 45 minutes to get the anti-venom or you die. And the anti-venom has to be refrigerated. If they see you, they’ll chase you and bite you. Its not a dry bite. And they can slither up to 60km/hr. So if you see one you better run. Apparently the women in Africa carry things on their heads because those snakes like to attack downward from up in trees. Every hospital in Africa has the anti-venom, the problem is getting there.

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