The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Community

March 16, 2013

Snakes' place

St. Patrick’s expelling creatures from Ireland is celebrated myth

ANDERSON, Ind. — Throughout history, snakes have been associated with all things evil — even as early as Adam and Eve.

“Many people have a fear of snakes instilled in them since the day they were born,” he said Ed Roemer, owner of Night Stalkers, the south side shop that sells exotic animals including as many as 30 snakes.

“So many people are deathly afraid of them.”

And for this St. Patrick’s Day, Roemer recalled the story of the patron saint driving snakes from his home Ireland. In turn, that is why, some speculate, there are no snakes there.

But like so many other stories, this is just a legend.

Scientists don’t believe there were snakes in Ireland for the Christian missionary evangelist to banish.

Yet the story goes that Patrick chased the snakes from the hills of Ireland after they began attacking him during a 40-day fast. But according to Philip Freeman, author of “St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography,” the tale was likely spread by monks as a way to symbolize Patrick driving “the old, evil, pagan ways out of Ireland” and bringing in a new age as he converted people to Christianity.

National Geographic reports that Ireland is one of only a handful of places worldwide that are snake-free, but St. Patrick had nothing to banish. Instead, it’s because the most recent Ice Age — 10,000 years ago — kept the island too cold for reptiles. The resulting surrounding seas probably have kept snakes from inhabiting the island.

But the legend carries on. And St. Patrick’s Day commemorates the saint’s death.

Snakes belong here

Stephen Thompson, interpretive naturalist at Mounds State Park, said the idea that one person could accomplish such a task is laughable. The idea of eradicating snakes from any singular place is a dangerous one.

“They all have their place in the ecosystem,” said Thompson, who is known as the “snake guy” at Mounds. “If you remove one from the chain, it affects the whole ecosystem. If such a thing did happen, it could effectively change an entire ecosystem. Snakes are food for other animals and act as population control for certain animals.”

Like Roemer, Thompson said a fear of snakes is inherent for some people. And in many cases, he said, that fear comes out of a lack of education.

“Historically, people have done a good job making the snake look bad,” Thompson said. “Even in the Bible the snake is depicted as evil. There are a lot of people who still believe there is truth in that today. But in reality they help us.”

Thompson pointed out that snakes help with population control by going after birds, squirrels, insects, crayfish and insects.

“They help us keep nature in balance,” he said.

Thompson said his part in helping people understand snakes is through a variety of education programs at Mounds. Visitors can get  an up-close view of snakes and a better understanding of the reptiles.

“So many people say, ‘The only good snake is a dead snake,’” he said. “I let them know they are here for a reason, they serve a purpose and aren’t here to hurt or scare us.”

Thompson stressed that none of the snakes in Madison County are venomous. There are some venomous snakes in Indiana — northern species of rattlesnake, copperhead, Eastern timber rattlesnake and a water moccasin. But most of the people bitten by one have likely  antagonized the snake or stepped on it.

“Most of the snakes in Indiana aren’t going to come out and try to bite you,” Thompson said. “They mostly just want to go away from us and keep a distance. When they get cornered, that’s when they become very aggressive.”

The old adage — they are more afraid of you then you are of them — is pretty accurate, Roemer said. Not only has he operated Night Stalkers for nearly 20 years, but Roemer has bred a variety of snakes for decades.

“Each one has their own unique personality,” he said. “Like any animal, you can get attached to them. The myth of them being slimy or wet, it’s not true.”

Snakes make great pets and can be enjoyed if pet owners properly take care of the reptiles, he said.

“They are low maintenance and don’t take a lot of room,” Roemer said. “They really are a lot of fun to play with.”

Both Thompson and Roemer understand that some humans prefer driving snakes from their home garden  — or island or country. But both stressed the importance of just leaving them be if found.

“Just walk away,” Thompson said. “They are here for a reason.”

1
Text Only
Community
  • FEA - HB0729 - Senior Falls Aging safely in the comfort of her home Marilyn Moneyhun said being totally reliant on others is difficult. "Losing your independence is a shock to your system," Moneyhun, 84, said. "You are not in control anymore."

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Community Briefs: July 29 A compilation of community news items as published in the Tuesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 29, 2014

  • FEA - HB0728 - Fresh Orientation - SH Elwood freshmen learn the ways of high school through mentoring program About half the 112 incoming freshmen at Elwood Jr./Sr. High School got a jump on their friends recently by attending a freshman orientation session. Joan Mercer, an English teacher who helped organize the the orientation, said the mentor program, which has been in place for several years, has been effective in new students make the high school transition.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA-HB0727-MCWinery-JC6.JPG Having a wine time

    Cathy Hensley’s never been much of a drinker. It wasn’t something that interested her very much, so it seemed unfathomable that she would ever run a winery. But after her son Eric offered her and her husband, Duke, some wine he made, it changed things.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lanane among LifeStream honorees Dr. Jon Hendrix and Katie Lucas, both of Muncie; Janet Privett, Montezuma, Ohio, and Sen. Tim Lanane (D), Anderson, will be honored during a reception Aug. 7 in Muncie for their work in making a difference in the lives of aging adults and people with disabilities.

    July 26, 2014

  • Community Briefs: July 27 A compilation of community news items as published in the Sunday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    July 26, 2014

  • FEA HB0727 Homes 0113 Storage solution The key to creating a beautiful home on a budget is to look beyond the intended purpose of an item, and beyond its appearance. Instead, check for sturdiness of the frame, and the functionality of the components.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • What's Where: July 27-Aug. 2 Local meetings and activities are scheduled this week.

    July 26, 2014

  • Help available locally to navigate health care options If you feel like you’re drowning in the shifting sea of health care options, don’t panic: SHIP, a local Navigator and Life Stream are ready to help.

    July 26, 2014

  • FEA HB0727 Camp Chesterfield Spiritualists' home Camp Chesterfield is one of 10 spiritualist camps in the United States, and the only one of its kind in Indiana. Founded in the late 1800s, It's home to the Indiana Association of Spiritualists and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

Reader Pet Photos


We're looking for your best pet photos! Share your photos of your favorite non-human companions in our new photo gallery. Click here to upload your photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin