Most people cringe when they hear the word ‘snake’. Their heart rate jumps up and they start looking all around them. Even though most snakes are harmless, the very mention of them sends people into panic mode.
Yet, snakes are wonderful examples of design and they play an important role in nature. They are also one of my favorite animals. I’ve had snakes as pets and even my wife enjoyed holding them. They are clean and not slimy as so many people portray them.
When I was in college, I would volunteer to help in the venomous animal lab where I milked hundreds of rattlesnakes for their venom. I also got to help milk several king cobras, Indian cobras, Egyptian cobras, spitting cobras, black mambas and fer-de-lances. The rattlesnakes and cobras were fairly easy to milk, but the black mambas were a different story. They were extremely fast, extremely aggressive and you had to be very, very careful handling them.
Most snakes eat rodents or other small animals such as bats, birds, lizards and other snakes. In some areas of India where they grow lots of rice, they hunted and killed all of the cobras they could find. Eventually, the cobras no longer inhabited those areas. But they soon found themselves overrun with mice and rats that ate the rice they were growing. The people learned their lesson and started to reintroduce the cobras back into their fields and eventually the rodent population began to decrease and their rice crops were saved.
The same thing has happened in parts of the American Southwest where rattlesnakes have been over hunted. Desert rats and mice take over and begin to eat everything in sight. One of the consequences of killing off the snakes and allowing the rodents to multiply is that the rats and mice carry diseases such as plague and the hantavirus and incidence of these deadly diseases often increase as well.
Snakes also exhibit a variety of ways to protect themselves. Some snakes, such as the green vine snake, are the same solid color as their surroundings. Others like the copperhead, fer-de-lance and Gaboon viper, have colored patterns to mimic the leaves and other forest litter on the ground.
In North America a group of snakes have hardened scales that form a rattle on their tail. Rattlesnakes will often, but not always, shake their rattled tails to warn others to stay away. Interestingly, a number of other snakes such as bull snakes, gopher snakes and even garter snakes will shake their tails in the same manner as a rattlesnake. If there are any dry leaves or other litter on the ground, the vibrating tail can sometimes mimic the sound of the rattlesnake. Since snakes are not raised and taught by their parents, one has wonder what makes them do it especially if they have never seen a rattlesnake.
Another form of self-protection is flattening out the area just behind the head and lifting its head into the air. Cobras are best known for this behavior which is called ‘hooding’. Quite often when I had to handle one of the cobras in the lab, they would hood to warn me that they knew I was there and they didn’t like it.
Most people think of cobras when they see or hear about a snake raising up and hooding. But did you know that there is a snake that lives in North America that also raises up and hoods when threatened? The Eastern hog-nosed snake is a harmless, non-venomous snake that grows to about 3 feet in length (some of the cobras I milked were 8-14 feet long). When threatened, the Eastern hog-nosed snakes with raise up and hood like a cobra and even make a similar hissing sound that the cobra makes.
Evolutionists often say that animals learn to mimic others in order to protect themselves, but the Eastern hog-nose snake lives in North America and cobras are found in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. So how did the harmless snake learn to mimic the deadly cobra?
Another interesting behavior of the Eastern hog-nose is that it will roll over on its back and play dead. You can take a stick and turn it back over, but it will quickly assume the upside down dead position over and over and over again. By playing dead, some predators will lose interest in it and will move away. Why or how it learned how to do this is a mystery to evolutionists.
Snakes don’t have ears so many people believe they cannot hear sounds like we do. However, studies have revealed that some snakes including cobras hear through their jaws. The skin on their jaws will detect sound waves and then transmit those waves to the jaws which transmits them to the quadrate bone which transmits it to the inner ear bone where the cobra interprets it as sound. But don’t think that they are actually listening to the flute of the snake charmer. In reality, they are following the movement of the flute and the charmer’s hands.
A number of snakes also have the ability to detect heat. Known as pit vipers, they can sense the slightest differences in heat using their tongues and a special organ known as the pit organ. What they are really detecting is infrared heat that can be generated by any living body. The detection is so acute that they can follow the heat trail left by a mouse up to 20-30 minutes after the mouse passed by.
Snakes don’t have legs but were designed to crawl on the ground with great efficiency. Some snakes are so fast that they can out ‘run’ a human. They accomplish this by using large scales called scutes on their bellies. As the snakes muscles stretch the scutes flare out and grab the ground and when the muscles contract, they help pull the snake along. It happens so fast that it is generally difficult to watch just how they do it.
A few snakes like the sidewinder, move in a diagonal direction rather than going straight. They left parts of their body off the ground and move them sideways and then repeat the process with the other parts until they appear to be going more sideways than forward.
There are so many different kinds of snakes with different kinds of specially designed features that it would fill a book. So I would like to encourage all of you to not be so afraid of snakes and to realize that God designed them to play important roles in our environment. If you get an opportunity to watch a snake, see how many unique features they have that make them different and special. Then remember that they are God’s creatures also and learn to appreciate them.
From interaction with their peers to the instruction and correction that they receive at home, children interpret their experience from a worldview that seeks to answer their fundamental questions: Who am I? What do I exist for? Where can I find joy?
As parents, we need to be providing our children with a consistent, persuasive, and biblical framework for understanding the world God has made and their place in it. The instruction that we provide for them should not only inform their mind; it should be directed towards persuading their hearts of the wisdom and truthfulness of Gods ways. We must impress truth on our children’s hearts, not to control or manage them, but to point them to the greatest joy and happiness that they can experiencedelighting in God and the goodness of his ways.
Instructing a Childs Heart is an essential follow-up to Tedd Tripp’s previous bestseller, Shepherding a Childs Heart. This book gives practical instruction aimed at helping parents instruct their children in ways that will persuade them of God’s wisdom. Instead of focusing solely on changing a child’s behavior, the authors help us to look at the heart of the child. Point your child toward the happiness they will find from doing things God’s way!