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  • Milk Stealers: Paleolithic or Neolithic? November 21, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Prehistoric
    Milk Stealers: Paleolithic or Neolithic?

    It is a snakey week and here is a second snake post in almost as many days. There are many legends about snakes and other reptiles taking milk from nursing mothers, there are also many legends about snakes and other reptiles (and sometimes birds) taking milk from cattle. Beach has given examples of these tales […]

    Killer Snake Wheels November 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Killer 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 […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Sewer Snakes September 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Sewer Snakes

    The search for the original sewer dwelling creature continues. The first reference to sewer snakes comes from a British newspaper in 1888. It is agreeable to recall that, not long ago, a huge boa-constrictor was discovered in a Vienna sewer, the serpent having evidently escaped from a menagerie, and either taken refuge there from cold, […]

    A Milk-Drinking British Boa March 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Milk-Drinking British Boa

    There are lots of tall tales about snakes and lots of tall tales about snakes taking milk from udders and breasts, but this is unusual for the apparent quality of the witness and its impact in the local countryside. The journalist who wrote, and doubtless loved researching, the initial piece was from the Birmingham Gazette. […]

    Folklore Snake Exaggerations from the US December 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Folklore Snake Exaggerations from the US

    Beach has often written on the myths created by American newspapers: and the (deliberately?) naive recycling of the same by British newspapers. Here is a nice example which is making fun of tales concerning snakes: the only surprise perhaps is the absence of the ‘monstrous snake’. True to form this was taken by a Lancashire newspaper (20 […]

    Bosom Serpent Curses October 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bosom Serpent Curses

    We have looked here before on several occasions at the bosom serpent, the notion that certain animals and particularly reptiles and amphibians could dwell in the stomach or elsewhere in the human body after entering through the nose, mouth or in some rarefied cases the vagina. Usually you get bosom-serpented because you have it coming […]

    The Longest Ancient Snakes October 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Longest Ancient Snakes

    How long were the longest ancient snakes? In 2004, Richard Stothers published a fascinating article ‘Ancient Scientific Basis of the ‘Great Serpent’ from Historical Evidence’, Isis 95, 220-238. Among many other bits of ancient flotsam and jetsom Stothers brought together a list of the longest snakes recorded in antiquity. The following snakes need to be looked […]

    Snake Friend/Enemy in Egypt September 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Snake Friend/Enemy in Egypt

    There are many stories of snakes from world folklore becoming parts of human households and being fed by grateful family members. In some parts of the globe, in the early modern Baltic for instance, this practice seems to have had cultic associations. In most of the world there are folk stories about snakes saved by […]

    Baby Loving Snakes August 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Baby Loving Snakes

    There are many stories about snakes getting into cradles or generally just hanging around children. Here are a few crude, and possibly in some cases factual instances from pre-war British newspapers. The 18 months-old son of Mr and Mrs Howell of Mainchlochog, Pembrokeshire, walked into the house yesterday with a snake coiled round its neck. […]

    Udder Snakes June 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Udder Snakes

    One of the most curious legends, one that this blogger cannot even begin to account for, is the idea that some animals and particularly snakes and reptiles like to take milk directly from a cow’s udder. Here is a selection of some of these legends. It goes without saying that there is no truth in […]

    The Longest Snake in the World June 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Longest Snake in the World

    British newspapers gave a couple of acres of space between 1800 and 2000 to ‘monster snakes’ discovered in this or that corner of the Green & Pleasant land. Typically a vicar in Devon had found an adder that measured two and a half feet long… However, leaving the shores of Britain behind there were better […]

    The Shining South African Snake Monster June 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Shining South African Snake Monster

    Beach spent a few minutes going through Heuvelmans’ wonderful On the Tracks of Unknown Animals but could find not hint of this ‘thing’. The following description appeared in 1899 in some nature notes in a British newspaper! The natives of Natal [South Africa] have implicit faith in the existence of the lamp snake, which they […]

    Credulity and Animal Lore in Italy May 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Credulity and Animal Lore in Italy

    Beach has recently been enjoying serpent folklore. This study has led him to question, as often happens to inadequate human beings when new information comes along, ‘facts’ that has been fed him in his time living in Italy: almost a decade now. Here are six involving reptiles and their relatives. Some of these Beach discounted […]

    The Durham Serpent May 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Serpent

    Here is a weird little story that allegedly appears in St Nicholas’ Parochial Register, Durham for 1568. Mdm. that a certain Italian brought into the cittie of Durham, the 11th day of June, in the yeare above sayd, a very great strange and monstrous serpent, in length sixteen feet, in quantitie and dimentions greater than a […]

    The Greater Irish Rattlesnake? October 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Greater Irish Rattlesnake?

    Irish children are brought up with the attractive lie that St Patrick drove all snakes from the country when he arrived in Ireland in the fifth century. Certainly there are no indigenous snakes in Ireland, but over the years small snake populations have been established; not least in the Irish boom when snakes became prestige […]

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