A byte of life from the Land of Sumos and Sushi

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Japan’s warm climate is a haven for reptilian life. During my adventures with Shiro the school dog around the rice paddies, I frequently encounter lizards, snakes and have even seen a wild tortoise. In fact, snakes seem to find their way into the school buildings on regular basis and I have personally witnessed four unwelcome visitors in the last three weeks.

I have observed a number of techniques employed to evict snakes from the premises. The use of long handled tongs to grasp the head, or a brush to sweep the snake away are both effective methods of snake removal, but lack the showmanship that is so desired in this day and age.

For a real snake show, all teachers and students know that there is only one man to call when a serpentine intruder is sighted. The snake hunter. Doubling as the science teacher in the off season, he bides his time studying the habits of his quarry, but when a call goes out over the school PA system, like the Thundercats HO! the snake hunter comes a runnin’.

He arrives at the scene, armed with just his highly experienced bare hands, and a plastic bin liner. He then carefully baits the reptile, forcing it to uncoil and extend its body, and allowing him to grasp it by the tail, and put in into the bin bag.

But sometimes the snake, enraged by the situation, will rear up and attempt to bite the hand of its captor. Indeed, a snake held by the very tip of its tail has the muscle power do this, hard though it may be to believe.

However, the snake hunter asserts his authority as king of the jungle with a technique that no serpent can fight. Like an ancient hunter might swing a slingshot, the snake hunter swings the snake round his head, exerting a highly unnatural amount of G-force to the snakes head area which renders the victim temporarily dazed, and thus allows the hunter time to pop it into a bag and remove it from the premises.

I was lucky enough to be allowed to accompany the snake hunter on one of his recent trapping expeditions to capture a serpent found in the school quad, and managed to get these exclusive shots of the man in action.

No snakes were harmed during the capturing of this serpent.


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