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Snakes Alive – Part 2 – Types of Snakes, Snake Symbolism & The Snake Temple !

Ka Snake Cartoon



Only 10% of total snake species in the world are venomous. It is always advisable to leave a snake undisturbed whether it is venomous or not. Most venomous snakes will only attack when provoked or threatened.  The Viper family, among which are Copperheads and rattlesnakes, are the typical snakes with the triangle-shaped head. Elapids typically do not have the triangle-shaped head but have small heads which they raise in a J shape from their body.

The classic “The Jungle Book” portrays Ka, the Snake as a people-charmer or with the ability to hypnotise Mowgli.  I have to say that Snakes do not hypnotise people or their prey!!  Some prey can freeze in terror when sighted by a snake or when they see a snake, looking as though the prey animal is hypnotised, but it is a biological fact that Snakes DO NOT hypnotise living things.

Also, some Snake Charmers or to be more precise, some Cobra Snake Charmers, are not nice people in my “books” because the Cobras have had their fangs removed and even sometimes have had their mouths sewn shut.  However, there have been “real” Snake Charmers whom have faced off against a sleepy Cobra that has been rudely awoken from its basket, only to stare down the Snake Charmer and to try to bite the flute the “Charmer” is playing (which the Snake can’t hear but can feel) – as this Article below nicely explains !


Some people do keep snakes as “pets”, but you MUST check with the relevant Animal / Environmental government authority in your State about what Licence is required to keep a pet Snake.


Kingsnake of the U.S.A.   Click   here   for information on keeping and caring for a (non venomous) King Snake.

In the U.S.A. the similarly coloured venomous coral snake can be distinguished from the similar colored but harmless tri-colored kingsnake by the arrangement of the bands:   if the yellow and red color bands touch, then it is the venomous coral snake;  if the red and black color bands touch, it is the non-venomous kingsnake.

Following is a description of the categories of Snakes around the World.

Venomous Snakes

Fanily Elapidae (elapids)
The most venomous species of snakes fall in this group and they prevail in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. They are known to bear a set of hollow fangs which are used to inject neurotoxic venom, which directly attacks the nervous system of the prey. There are a very few who survive the bite of a snake belonging to the elapids. The inland taipan heads the list of the most venomous land snakes in the world and it belongs to the family of elapids. Other members comprise the death adders, black mamba, cobras, kraits, hydrophis belch, the North American coral snake, Australian copperheads and king cobras.

Family Viperidae (viperids)
Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Madagascar, Hawaii and the Arctic Circle are some of the few places devoid of viperids (popularly known as vipers). However, the rest of the world plays host to these venomous reptiles. Copperheads, rattlesnakes, water moccasins, bushmaster, fer-de-lance, Russell’s viper, saw-scaled viper, temple viper, and rhinoceros vipers are the commonly known vipeirds.

Family Colubridae (colubrids)
Snakes belonging to this group of colubrids are mostly non-venomous or relatively less venomous than elapids and viperids. The African twig snake, the boomslang, racers, the hognose snake, queen snake, the common keelback, king snake, corn snake, bull snake, rat snake, garter snake, smooth snake, water snake mussurana and milk snake are all colubrids. These snakes are mostly non-venomous, however, their bites may require immediate medical intervention.

Non-venomous Snakes

Family Boidae
This family comprises non-venomous, but big and powerful constrictors which can swallow a fully grown buck, apart from other large animals! You can find the largest types of snakes in the boidae family that includes the most popular anaconda, the reticulated python, the Burmese python and the African rock python. These snake species rely on their strength to suffocate their prey, unlike the venomous ones which use venom as their primary weapon.

Other than pythons and boas, other non-venomous snakes are the brown water snake, banded water snake, mud snake, eastern indigo snake, and the scarlet snake.

Source:  http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-snakes-with-pictures.html

To find out about the Snakes of North America, please go to the website below.


To find out about the Snakes of Australia, please go to the website below.


 Snake Symbolism:  Wisdom, Healing, Initiation

The Snake is a powerful totem — it is the symbol of transformation and healing. The Snake is wisdom expressed through healing. The Snake is the symbol of eternity. Snake energy is the energy of wholeness, cosmic consciousness, and the ability to experience anything willingly and without resistance. It is the knowledge that all things are equal in creation. It also signals new opportunities and/or changes.

Snake is fire medicine, the medicine of transmutation. On a material level, it is vitality; on an emotional level, it is ambition and dreams; on a mental level, it is intellect and power; on a spiritual level (the highest level), it is wisdom, understanding and wholeness.

The page below gives an interesting insight into Snakes in mythology and their symbolism throughout the ages and different societies.


Harry Potter and the Snake at the Zoo

Harry Potter and the Boa Constrictor at the Zoo

Snakes appear alot in the Harry Potter movies, and you can read about such at the Wiki site by clicking    here,  if you like.   The above shot was filmed at the London Zoo.  Please disregard the pop-up that appears in the corner when you click on the aforementioned link.  It is an advertisement – just take no notice of it, and it will disappear.

Snake divider

Last but not least, below is a photo of my twin sister and I in the Snake Temple at Penang, Malaysia.  It was taken in 1990 of each of us holding a de-venomised Pit Viper or Temple Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri).  I am the one on the right, wearing the black and white striped cat brooch.  The snakes were sleepy due to the heavy incense smoke everywhere, and were more interested in each other than in us, but still it was a scary experience for me, as you can probably tell from the sweat and the expression on my face (it not being a normal experience to go about picking up or carrying vipers)!!

Twins holding Vipers

I am not a fan of de-fanging snakes so that people can drape them around themselves, but back then, that issue did not cross my mind when the snake handlers tempted us into having a photo taken for a fee, telling us that the snakes we would be holding were not dangerous because they had been “de-venomised”, i.e. that the venom glands and ducts had been removed.  I believed him.

To finish off, here is a beautiful photo of the Snake Temple, which you can read more about by clicking   here, if you like.

snake temple of penang malaysia

Snake Temple of Penang, Malaysia

Mitakuye Oyasin – we are all related

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4 thoughts on “Snakes Alive – Part 2 – Types of Snakes, Snake Symbolism & The Snake Temple !

  1. Very informative, though I do try to avoid snakes at any cost. Loved the picture of you as you and your sister held the snakes. Uneasy? I don’t blame you. Great piece. Billy

  2. Thank you for commenting, Billy, and I’m glad you like this post. Yes, you can see I am gripping my snake for dear life, whereas my sister is more relaxed. I did think the snakes were pretty, with the blue flashes on their heads and bodies, and my research shows these were female adult Wagler’s Pit Vipers. I respect all animals, but I wouldn’t do it again. Now – a python maybe – except it would probably crush me, as it can weigh up to 130 pounds (or 59 kilograms) which is quite a bit more than me!

  3. Wonderful post Celine. I’m glad you included the snake temple, as I found that very interesting. I could tell your sister was not as tense in the photo. I like snakes, and I occasionally handle my favorite the Eastern Hognose whenever I run across one, but I give the poisonous ones a wide berth and the respect they deserve. 🙂

  4. Hi BD, I looked up the Eastern Hognose Snake (or Puff Adder) and like what I see. Snakes are very interesting critters, & when I was younger I had a favourite ring with a Snake on it. I think the Snake “medicine” or essence of the need for transformation and one-ness was bestowed upon me then, when I needed it!

    In the photo you can see I am looking sideways – actually I’m looking at the Snake Handler sending him a thought “I don’t know if this is such a good idea, here, you take the Snake.” Haha. Thanks so much for your support & comment. Celine

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