Snakes suffer such a terrible public image

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Whenever I read Kipling’s “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” I root for the snake. (Dinosaur Costume)There’s something very irritating about the story’s hero, that brave, ever-so-clever furry little mongoose who fearlessly confronts the Indian king cobra and its mate, defeating the slow-witted serpent by craft and nimbleness and thus saving the verandaful of upper-crust English colonialists. I like mongooses, but I don’t like Kipling’s fictitious beast. For one thing, real mongooses aren’t so ingratiating or so stupid as to go down a cobra’s burrow when it’s occupied by its owner.

 

But the main reason I’m anti-Kipling is that his stories epitomize an all-pervasive bias in our popular and scientific culture against the Big Reptile. (Dinosaur suit)Kipling’s cobra is a metaphor of size and strength without brains or honor. (animatronic dinosaur for sale)So the mongoose by comparison emerges as a noble and intelligent mammalian furball in contrast to its despicable reptilian foe. Snakes suffer such a terrible public image, being forced to serve as the very agent of evil in the Garden of Eden and as the synonym for deceit and ambush in popular slang. Crocodiles don’t fare much better—the one in Peter Pan enjoys the dubious distinction of being only slightly less meanspirited than the character it devours, Captain Hook. Big crocodilians, like big cobras, are dangerous, aggressive predators.(animatronic dinosaur) A brackish-water crocodile grabbed the eminent Harvard entomologist Philip Darlington by the leg in 1944 on a South Sea island while that gentle scholar was studying mosquitoes for the Navy Department. Darlington kicked his way free after being whirled around under water a couple of times, but not a few explorers have suffered the complete process crocodiles perform on their prey. Cobras and other venom-equipped snakes kill hundreds of village people, farmers, and migrants all through the tropics, a yearly toll far exceeding that of all the man-eating tigers, lions, and leopards together.