I have ambivalent feelings about snakes. I am well aware of how beneficial they are as predators. I know that a bite from a snake isn’t personal. I wouldn’t arbitrarily kill one. I probably wouldn’t kill one at all unless it was chasing me with its fangs out. I would become Jesse Cleveland Owens in a short, fat white woman’s body first and try to outrun the snake.
I have snake outrunning history. I was 7 when Georgie the Elder, our cousin Willie, and I were exploring the wilds of Montell, Texas and ran across a huge, child eating snake. I was kick shuffling my little flipflops through the leaves on the creek bottom, whining that they were going too fast for me, when I shuffled some leaves onto a sleeping snake. I don’t know if the snake coiled or whipped its rear into reverse. I can’t say whether it rattled or hissed. I am not even sure what color it was. I made eye contact with it and I immediately turned and ran, passing the two older kids like they were standing still. My feet didn’t touched the ground. I am not a fast runner, but on that day I made Georgie and Willie eat my dust.
When we got back from St. Joe Island on Saturday, Bobby greeted us with “Wait til you see what I got.” It was a rattlesnake, curled in the bottom of his lunch box. Dead, thanks to the heavens. Bob, who thinks you should cook anything you kill, said that we’d look up some recipes so we could eat it for dinner.
In the process of looking up recipes, I looked up information about our little rattlesnake on the Internet. There are lots of good information out there, but my favorite website was for the American International Rattlesnake Museum at www.rattlesnakes.com. I found that our snake was viviparous which means its babies are live born. Rat snakes, cobras, pythons, king snakes, and bull snakes hatch from eggs. Rattlesnakes have relatively weak venom; Western and Eastern Diamondbacks may have venom that’s weak, but they can spring up to 1/3 their length, injecting large amounts of venom with their larger than average fangs.
Here are the do’s and don’t’s in case you get bitten by a snake:
- Remain calm and inactive.
- Don’t make incisions over the snakebite.
- Don’t constrict the flow of blood.
- Don’t immerse a limb in ice water.
- Use suction device or mouth to extract some venom. If performed within the first couple of minutes, this may help reduce the effects of the bite. This procedure should not be performed by someone with ulcers of the mouth or stomach.
- Have another individual drive to medical care for treatment.
- If you spend a lot of time in “snake country”, locate a physician with snakebite treatment before hand, just in case.
I smiled at a few of those since I can’t imagine being calm or inactive if some Diamondback Rattlesnake plunged its giant fangs into my leg nor can I imagine being the sucker who helps mitigate the venom’s effects.
We ended up frying the snake in Vidalia onion batter after Bob skinned it. In my mind skinning the snake was difficult, but Bob was quick getting the skin off. Rattlesnakes are bony little creatures. Some of the recipes that I ran across recommended stewing the meat to get it off the bone. We just ate around it.
Bob cut the snake into 3″-4″ pieces and put it in a plastic bag with a little balsamic vinegar dressing and garlic. According to what I read, snake meat is similar to alligator meat but a slight difference in flavor. It does not taste like chicken; it tastes a little more like fish. I wouldn’t use the balsamic vinegar dressing again; it was a little too strong for the meat.
Bob dipped the snake in batter and fried it for about 90 seconds in hot grease. It didn’t take much to cook it. We found with alligator that the meat gets tough like shrimp gets when it’s over cooked. Bob also chunked a 1015 onion to make use of the leftover batter. We tried out a dip for coconut shrimp which was a nice partner to the snake. (Mix 1/2 cup orange marmalade with 1 teaspoon brown mustard, 2 teaspoons of horseradish, and a liberal sprinkle of red pepper flakes.)