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Old 09-08-17, 07:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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New to the world of snakes

Hello, first day here. I'm enjoying reading through the posts--everything is new because I'm new to the field. I'm a novelist working on my fourth book. I've chosen to deal with venomous snakes in the Southeastern US (Mississippi). One aspect is the charismatic practice of snake handling. I've done an immense amount of historical research, but there is one detail I'd like to include to advance the plot. I would like the boy who prepares the snakes for the meetings to do his best to calm them before they are grabbed by a frenzied congregation. I've heard from some that feeding the snakes helps induce lethargy but other have disagreed, saying that depriving the snakes of food would do the same. I've also heard that keeping the snakes cool will help, and also cause them to release less venom if they do bite. I have no idea if any of this is correct. Even though the book is fiction, I do want it to be accurate. Could you share your insights? Are there other methods you could suggest? Sorry to be so unknowledgeable, and thank you for your patience with me.
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Old 09-11-17, 12:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: New to the world of snakes

I don't work with venomous snakes but in general snakes are very active for a period immediately after feeding - their feeding responses take time to switch off - think of it like an adrenaline rush. They then hide away and digest the meal.

A hungry snake is an active snake by and large as even the ambush predators will move in a bid to seek food. Only a snake hungry to the point of starvation may become placid but it would likely be close to death.

Snakes are 'cold blooded' and require the heat of the sun to become more active. In general a cold snake will be more lethargic and out of the options you state this is the only one that I think would be reliably realistic to any extent. Whether venomous snakes release less venom when cold I don't know and am not about to test the theory!

That said - in any of the above states - a venomous snake will strike in defence if threatened.
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Old 09-11-17, 12:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: New to the world of snakes

Welcome to sSNAKESs!!
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Old 09-11-17, 03:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: New to the world of snakes

G'Day and welcome to the forum, I am kinda new my self.
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Old 09-11-17, 06:36 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: New to the world of snakes

Cool down is probably the only realistic option. That, and the fact that the snakes were usually in such poor shape from improper care. I assume you've read the book "Salvation on Sand Mountain?" I grew up on Sand Mountain, but I never attended any of those wacky churches. It gives good insight into the minds of those people though.
...the old ones ... knew in their bones... that death exists, that all life kills to eat, that all lives end, that energy goes on. They knew that humans are participants, not spectators. -- Stephen Bodio, On the Edge of the Wild
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Old 09-11-17, 01:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: New to the world of snakes

Well a cooled down snake may be less active but it's still a lot faster than a human... so you're still going to get tagged if you grab it by the *** (so to speak). The amount of venom doesn't really matter all that much, the neurotoxic/hemotoxic snakes usually inject enough venom to kill a human several times over, and the maiming species (myotoxins/cytotoxins in the venom) will generally inject enough of it to hurt you very badly up to the point that without support you require amputation of a limp.

The only good practice of handling venomous snakes is to keep their business end as far away from you as possible, and there are plenty of tools to do so.

But if you want your character to have a heart attack, then you could always have him grab a runaway mamba mid body, with bare hands.
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calming, lethargy, sedation, snakehandling

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