This thread is about snakes and snake-related anecdotes
Back when I was on holibobs a couple of years back in a 4WD on the Gibb River Road from Broome to Darwin with my wife, on one of the last days of the trip we set up camp somewhere near Litchfield. It was a place of interest because it was a short hike to a place to go swimming that wasn’t at risk of crocodiles etc. which was a rarity for Northern Australia. My wife was a bit waterfalled out at that point so in order to satisfy my guidebook FOMO, I decided to go for the hike on my own.
It was nice enough and uneventful, and after a short while swimming about a bit, I realised that I was also a bit waterfalled out so started walking back to camp. I was happily making my merry way along, when suddenly I saw a snake about 15 metres in front of me, right in the middle of the path. The only path back to camp. Not being an expert in snakes, I had no idea whether this was a dangerous one or not, but in Australia, you have to assume the worst. It was a very small snake, but that doesn’t really mean anything. Pythons are massive and all they want to do is cuddle. To the right of the path was a steep stony bank, and to the left, tall grass. In Australia you’re taught NEVER to walk in long grass as that’s where snakes love hanging out and that’s where you’re most at risk of stepping on one inadvertently since it’s harder to see each other. I didn’t know what to do and shouting for help wouldn’t really make a difference as there was no-one else at the campsite and even if my wife heard me, there wasn’t a lot she could do.
I waited a few minutes hoping it would move on, but it just stayed there, completely still. After a while I considered the idea of throwing a stone at the snake to see if the vibrations of its fall would scare it off when it hit the ground. The thing was, I wasn’t aware of how clever snakes were and whether or not it would be able to realise that the cause of the projectile was the human standing 15m away from it. I knew enough to know that unless it’s a death adder that it’s not going to be aggressive, but even the chillest pacifist would get mad if they started having rocks thrown at them. Despite this, and with no sign of the snake moving, I decided this was my best bet.
I found a nearby stone and tried to aim perfectly for a spot to its side, close enough for it to feel the hit on the floor, but not too close to actually hit the snake. I didn’t want to cause the fella harm, it had done me no wrong. The thing is, I’m not the best aim, and find that the more than something matters the worse I am at achieving it. To counter this, my first stone throw was a good two metres away in the tall grass, and unsurprisingly the snake didn’t move at all. After a minute or so I found another stone and decided to try again, aiming slightly closer this time. I threw again, and somehow fluked an incredibly close shot that bounced right next to the snake before tumbling off ahead of us. Despite this the snake didn’t move at all.
At this point I wondered if the snake had died and had gone to this particular spot as its final resting place. I mean, snakes are pretty shy so the idea of a snake just remaining still on a path felt like there was something not right about the whole situation. Surely any creature would be freaked out at stones landing so close by, so this seemed like a reasonable assumption to make. I bravely took a few steps closer to try and see if I could see the little snake tongue flicking back and forth, but its head was facing away from me and I couldn’t see any other movement from it at all. Part of me wanted to just stroll right up to it, convinced that it was probably fine but part of me was panicking about the setting sun and the fact that if I was bit, we were a looooong way from any medical services in driving conditions that neither of us stood a chance with at night.
I looked at the bank on the right, wondering if I could scramble across it, but it looked too steep and loose and the last thing I wanted to do was fall onto the snake, so against my better judgement, I realised my only option was the tall grass. The grass was thick and about knee height, with a pond a few metres into it which suggested that it might not all be solid ground. I walked up to the edge of the tall grass and started to bang my feet and make some noise as though warning any wildlife inside that I was on my way. I figured at this point any nearby snake had more than enough opportunity to scarper, but this other snake had ruined my perception of snakelore and I worried about the fact that the whole situation so far felt like the setup for a cheap horror film.
I started making my way into the tall grass, banging my feet multiple times before taking each step forward. I made a wide arc around the confirmed snake to avoid getting too close and before long my feet were starting to squelch and felt the outback swamp water start to soak into my socks. The grossness was one thing, but it also made the stomping near impossible at this point. Despite this, I had no other option so just kept wading through the swamp making loud noises hoping for the best, my view rapidly alternating between the path with the snake and the steps in front of me.
After what felt like a never-ending few minutes walking, I eventually made it to the other side of the snake back on the path. My heart was racing, but I’d made it, soggy footed, but alive. I looked back at the snake with its head now visible and tried to work out what the hell it was playing at. I half expected it to have a smug look on its little snakey face, but it just sat there, its little tongue poking out every now and again. I gave it a stare as if to say “I’m not happy about this, and I want you to know” similar to when some meathead pushes in front of you at a bar. I turned and headed back to camp to tell my wife about my heroic tale, but she didn’t seem as impressed as my adrenalised recount of the story had hoped for. She seemed to think I was blowing it out of all proportion and it was probably a carpet snake. Looking back at the photo, I think she may have been right. Either way, I felt like the lovechild of Steve Irwin and Crocodile Dundee and can now happily type about this story from my air conditioned office.
tl;dr Boring story about snakes