His name is Francis Aquaticus. He makes snake catching easier than you might think. Like, who catches a snake with their bare hands and treats this much dreaded creature like a domestic animal? It takes guts! Please, don’t try this at home!
Read about how it all began
It all happened like a joke in my boarding houses (Uyanga, Cross River State and Iperu Remo, Ogun State respectively), that during manual labour, we constantly found snakes one way or the other. The ‘normal’ thing of course was to kill on sight. Things had suddenly changed for me when I started noticing the helplessness of this creature moments before it was killed.
So I started asking some questions. Questions such as,
“what harm could that little green snake possibly do?””Why do we hate this poor innocent creature?” These questions would gradually become my new melody until I finally learnt how to catch the bigger ones…alive!
Check out the video here https://www.facebook.com/pg/francisaquaticusLivegallery/videos/ (titled “My love for snakes).
How did I do it?
1) When I see a snake, what I do first is to get a long stick or rod; anything that’ll help to press the snake to the ground (this idea came after observing the repeated failures of folks who used stones in an attempt to kill a snake. A snake’s tongue is constantly in motion (observe a lizard and grasp what I mean), sampling particles from the ground, water and air. Hence it senses the earth’s gravitational pull on the stone you’d intend to kill it with. Oya go try it and see!).
2) Laced with this purpose (pressing it to the ground), I will then run after it or wait for it to approach me (in the case of a bigger snake). Mind you, the underside of a snake is very sensitive to vibration, so it detects the vibrations in the ground when you approach it. No be small thing to race with a snake oh! It’s always ‘smarter’ than you.
3) After pressing it down with my ‘imbecilic’ weapon, I will carefully lead my hands gradually from the middle of its ‘sexy’ body to its head. In many times, I have always succeeded. I believe strongly that a snake’s head once subdued, send signals of submission to the rest of its body. That’s why it’s possible to hold and play with it afterwards as I did (as you can see from the videos and pictures).
However, there was a funny yet interesting scenario back then. I found a snake in an empty room close to my hostel and there were no damn sticks nor any thing at all. I stood there, a bit perplexed and at the mercy of my intuition, as the snake side-winded towards me. After a little calculative battle, I finally subdued its head. I also incurred some non venomous bites since it wasn’t a cobra nor a viper. Unknown to me, there was someone watching me from the window. After he saw all that happened, he proceeded, not just to ask me “where are you from?” but also to report me to authorities. I was looked upon since as a freak, a ‘dibia’ and a snake man. So why are most people afraid of snakes really? Or better put, “what is a snake?”
Scientifically, it is believed snakes (“serpentes,” “snega” – meaning ‘to creep,’ ‘to crawl’), from the suggestions of fossil evidence may have evolved from burrowing lizards such as the varanids (or a similar group) during the Cretaceous period. There are also different hypothesis based on morphology and genetic studies in recent years to show how related snakes and lizards are. The “colloquial term ‘poisonous snake’ is generally an incorrect label for snakes. A poison is inhaled or ingested, whereas venom produced by snakes is injected into its victim through fangs” (cf.Wikipedia.com for more).
In Judaism, Greek mythologies, Hinduism, Buddhism, Traditional African religion, etc there are certain beliefs, worship, as well as misconceptions that might seem to blur people’s minds towards killing, deifying or avoiding snakes. Through my chat with a Facebook friend I also came to realize a version of ‘voodoism’ that speaks voluminously about snake worship and snake ‘spirits.’ For some, a snake, as pictured in the ‘Rod of Asclepius’ is a symbol of healing and medicine and for others, a symbol of damnation and temptations (Naija people plenty here).
Despite all these theories, while in Abuja sometime in 2013 I ran into a fat snake which had just finished molting (renewing its skin) and was weak. In the next 45 minutes, it was prepared and trust me when I say it tasted like fish and warmed my heart. Join me, but first try those three methods above!
Francis Aquaticus is a philosopher, researcher, help desk assistant and presenter who draws when idle. To reach Francis, you can send an email to Francisaquaticus@yahoo.com