Snakes are more often than not viewed as aggressive, but I’m here to say perhaps we should look at it in a different light and see it as defensive, instead.
Snakes, in most cases, are smaller than us, first of all. Anything bigger than them are viewed as predators that could pose a threat to them, they are merely going about a defensive tactic for their own best interest. Their first instinct is not always to harm us or kill us, either. These slithering reptiles have several methods of warning us, before actually inflicting any kind of damage.
Yes, this isn’t an act of being mean, but actually an act of kindness. Snakes have no vocal cords, and can give no other “verbal” indication that they are actually present. That scary hiss you hear is actually them giving you a kind warning to let you know they are there if you hadn’t seen before, or to let you know you are overstepping a boundary. If you ignore this warning though, you might consequently suffer a bite.
I’ve received a message like this from Dusty when he was going through a shed. During shedding they experience massive discomfort and he was letting me know he didn’t want excessive handling at the time. The only time I worked with him then was doing cleaning, and he never bit me, as I respected his discomfort.
2. The Rattle.
Another common sign to tread with caution is the tail rattle, made famous by the rattlesnake, the sound that accompanies it making it all the more intimidating, often repelling predators. Though, not just these rattling creatures do it, but also, quite often, other snakes as well. Not all snakes settle for a “verbal” warning as discussed before, but prefer a little booty shake, you just need to be willing to watch their body language. Rattlesnakes create a well known and characteristic sound with their rattle, but not all snakes come with a built-in marocca, so they go for mimicry.
3. Oral Display
This may sound strange, but, in times of fear or a potential deadly situation, certain species will open their mouths, displaying the interior thereof. Examples include the black mamba, showing its inky-black mouth as a sign of its power, a well known trait which usually works, animals as well as humans taking head of its message. The cotton mouth has the same method of defence, tilting its head upwards, showing its soft, white-looking, gummy interior, a sign to remove yourself from their path before things get ugly. Not only used as a warning amongst the deadly but a defensive tactic among the harmless. The Common egg Eater has the same dark mouth as that of the mamba, using it as a false ID to predators to stay away, a facade of sorts.
4. Warning Bites
Yes, you read correctly, there is such a thing. For the venomous sort, it takes energy as well as protein and nutrients from the serpent to continuously make venom, so they try to save it for feeding purposes unless necessary. Snakes can therefore give what is called dry bites, a bite meant to scare you away and have it be known that they will defend themselves if necessary. Non-venomous snakes will also give warning strikes, and can be recognized easily by the fact that they quickly strike, but do not latch themselves to you, they are just asking you to leave.
5. Playing Dead
That’s right folks, unlike a puppy, you don’t need to teach these little critters to do this trick! The little guy most known for this cute, but quite dramatic act is the Hognose snake, rolling over, opening his mouth, stick out his tongue and even committed enough to give off a foul odder by musking, pretending its rotting. Done by more harmless species, this is done as a form of protection so they are not noticed nor harmed.
The point I was trying to make is that these scaled creatures aren’t hell bent on human destruction and death, and ultimately actually try to avoid unnecessary conflict with us at all. If you happen to come across one in the wild, it’s not going to approach you and chase you. If you give it leave it be, it will grant you the same. Admire from a distance and you will both end up happy.