The city of Savannah, Georgia, has banned snakes from its St. Patrick’s Day Parade because it does not think that inebriation and dangerous animals are a good combination. Obviously that would be a very bad combination. All that remains to be proven, then, is that the sort of snakes Americans keep as pets qualify as dangerous animals, which is more than the city of Savannah would want to assert in front of a herpetologically literate audience.

Pet pythons have killed about as many people in the last thirty years as were mauled to death by dogs in the last six months (11 people). Most of those victims made the mistake of handling their snakes when no one else was around, which is about the only time a fatal attack can be pulled off by an animal whose method of attack — bite, grip, and constrict — puts its teeth out of the picture in the first move. Two people versus a python is no contest, especially if the weather is cold enough to make the python sluggish and one of the people is an armed policeman on parade duty.

Most of the eleven snakes were over six feet long, which rules out any ball python not taking powerful steroids. Reticulated pythons get that big, but a six-foot retic would weigh at least fifty pounds. If you are strong enough to carry a suitcase-sized snake around all day — and personally I doubt that many snake-owning Georgians are — you’re probably strong enough to keep your neighbors safe from it. Someone ought to call the Catholic League, because this restriction of religious expression doesn’t seem to have sound evidence behind it.

Articles by Helen Andrews

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