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  • Killer Snake Wheels November 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite , trackback

    snake wheels

    Beach has just had a glorious meal but before going back to table he wanted to share this great snake urban legend: as regular readers will know snakes are a favourite subject. This comes from Pol and Fisher’s Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a Country Vet. How can anyone resist that title? In any case here is a peculiar belief out of middle-ish America.

    When the Christian Veterinary Mission sent me to New Mexico to teach basic veterinary medicine to ranchers, they told me a story, and I still don’t know if it is true. At night, they said, snakes will crawl onto the blacktop roads because they retain the warmth from that day. That sounds right to me.

    Of course, so far so true. Note a vet from a Christian Veterinary Mission with ranchers… Was this a windup?

    Then, supposedly, when a snake senses the danger that a car is bearing down on it, it will curly up and open its mouth. As the car rolls over the snake, the tire pushes back the upper jaw and some of the hollow teeth become embedded in that tire. The driver doesn’t notice that and keeps driving. But as the tire wears down, those teeth go a little deeper, eventually causing a slow leak in the tire.

    The author is clearly uneasy with this tale.

    I’m just repeating this story I was told. What happens then is when the person fixing the flat tire runs his hand over it to feel if there might be a nail stuck to it, he gets scratched by the hollow tooth; the snake venom gets into the skin and he suffers the damage. I can believe it. It doesn’t take much poison to cause a reaction.

    Beach remains very very very skeptical. Any other evidence for this urban legend or God forbid proof that it is actually true (chuckle): drbeachcombing At yahoo Dot com Beach knows he should turn to Google but he is going to go and open another bottle of wine… Have a great weekend!

    Ruth B is up in arms, 27 Nov 2016: Really? Really…snakes biting tires? The doctor I can believe, but really, Beachy, come on… You would have been a lot of fun at a “Dude Ranch”! (And, I have to say, you have an attitude typical of many city people, and quite a few Europeans.) Deserts tend to get very cold at night even after very hot days. And snakes will crawl out on a black top road at night for the warmth, though they tend to den up when it starts getting dark. They won’t stay there because it will lose warmth as the night goes on and they’d rather not be there then, they are more likely to be crawling across it on their way somewhere else. They also don’t like it because they are too exposed to predators. But the rest of that story, I’m beating my head on the desk! You didn’t say when this was, probably early in the 20th century when vets might have been sent out by some government group to help with rancher education. There have been vets across the west for a long, long time. Where you have groups of expensive animals their owners will make sure there are people who can take care of them. (Many doctors and vets doubled as caretakers of both species, you know, back in the wild days!) Even when some care is handed down through generations as folk medicine, they will spend their money on someone with a degree who spouts big words. Tuberculosis and other animal diseases can cost a rancher a lot of money, just like over there. Anyway…back to the subject…the ranchers were pulling his leg, typical behavior towards a young man from back East. Snakes who lay there in a coil and open their mouths would be breakfast for the morning scavengers looking for roadkill, and very flat, to boot! I know tires used to be pretty thin on Model A’s, T.s, etc., but not that thin. Fangs are not as tough as nails, or even some thorns like Black Locust trees have, or even some cactus. They would have been quite squished along with the rest of the snakey bits. If you touched them directly, yes, you could get a nasty surprise, but not otherwise! Sticking in a tire for a while indeed! The fangs on venomous snakes have to retract back into the head by laying. Google it, if you need a better picture than I can describe. Ah well, fun will be made of gullible young people and I’m quite sure you went through a lot of that when you were young. Did you ever get over it and get more sceptical? Or does that just come with old age? I have trouble believing anything anymore unless I look it up in several different places. Snakes are not the scary things we think, they are quite useful in some ways (Death to rats and mice, which I abhor!), they are clean and quiet, and mostly won’t bother you if you leave them alone. Common sense here, people!

    James H, 27 Nov 2016, ‘Those kind of stories I’ve heard since I was a kid here in Texas. Read a few J. Frank Dobie stories.’

    Bruce T, 27 Nov 2016: ‘I lived in west Texas for a bit, spitting distance away from New Mexico. Snakes in the road at night soaking up heat? Very true. It pays to have a flashlight and a long stick to push them out of the way if you’re walking down the road in area that isn’t well lit.  Snakes flattening tires. I heard that one a couple of times. Have you ever seen the fangs on a rattlesnake? They’re not puncturing any tires. I put this one down to high plains whopperism. These are the folks who gave us the jackalope.’

    David O, 17 Dec 2016 cracks this one open: I thought someone else would get this, but snakes wheels sounds an awful lot like a variation on rattlesnake-fang-in-boot: I’ve been looking for a modern equivalent (hypodermic syringes in unexpected places maybe?) but I haven’t found anything that couldn’t have arisen independently.