So said Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (and we see why in "Last Crusade"). My own feeling about snakes is that I have no problem with them as long as they are not poisonous. I'm not a great naturalist, though, so I'm unlikely to make a positive identification in the field. Fellow Scouter John McDonough stops to take a picture when he encountered a timber rattler at Camp Lewallen. If I encounter one in the wild, I just try to avoid them. "What kind of snake was it?" It was a snake kind of snake. It had no legs: "Mr. No-Shoulders". "What shape were its eyes?" I was avoiding it, not kissing it. "Get the hoe, maw!"
It's different when someone brings in a pet snake. Then I'm reasonably sure of the species, plus not very many folks will be keeping a deadly venomous serpent to cuddle with. There used to be an old boy over at Greenway, Arkansas who brokered exotic animals. He once brought (among other things) a gunny sack full of garter snakes. It didn't bother me a bit to plunge my arm into the midst of them.
I'm no great snake expert, but being located in the hinterlands, I'm willing to look at whatever comes through the door. I do have good resources to call for advice, plus the specialists on Veterinary Information Network. As with many exotic cases (read "anything besides dogs, cats and horses") I may just be acting as eyes, ears and hands — a remote sensing device for the faraway expert. Still, for folks unable to travel a hundred miles, I can often get them some help.
The staff were cleaning out drawers and found some old pictures. This particular one was certainly out of the ordinary. "Do you work on snakes?" Well, I'll do my best. "How am going to bring it in?" Well, a lot of people just put them in a pillow-case if they don't want to carry them.
I wasn't expecting a seventy-pound Burmese Python. The thing was bigger around the middle than a two-pound coffee can. Cool extrapolation from pillow-case to sleeping bag on the owner's part. The owner was the Navy recruiter here (about twenty years ago?). The snake had a respiratory infection. Dr. Mike Douglas, the Memphis Zoo veterinarian, advised me on how to treat it. It is amazing how fast these big snakes can move. When you see them at the zoo, you assume that they must have to just "ooze along" because of their size. They can flip a coil faster than you can move your hand.
I made follow-up visits to the snake's home, as it was winter-time. The owner had a two-bedroom apartment, with one bedroom devoted to the snake: a room-sized herpetarium. Single guy, naturally. Of course, that was then, this is now. I've seen plenty of married couples with multiple snakes.
This is why the sideshow industry has collapsed. People have a neighbor with a houseful of snakes, seeing the "fat lady" is an everyday occurrence (not to mention that the term is politically incorrect), and as for the "Tattooed Man", tattoos are mainstream now. My dream of a second career as a carnival barker will never come true…unless…
"Step right up, ladies and gents, see the man with no tattoos. Marvel at his milk-white skin. He's alive, they're all alive."