Thursday, August 11, 2016
The Head Of The Snake
My heart skipped a beat when I realized what Tilde was sniffing. We just got out the door for a walk and hadn't even reached the end of the driveway when she noticed something and rushed over for a sniff. It was a viper - the common European viper, or adder - the only venomous snake living in Denmark.
They are quite common at the West-coast, although they are hard to spot. They avoid conflict, and quickly move away when people approach. In the two years we have been living at the West-coast, we maybe only spotted six or seven.
Usually a sudden movement on the trail ahead alerts us of their presence, but when they are laying still, like this one we met on our driveway, you really don't notice them until they are right in front of you. Once, while walking with Kenzo and Tilde I almost stepped on one which was dozing in the morning sun. Kenzo and Tilde walked ahead of me and had already stepped over the snake. My first reflex was to stop, but that would have pulled Kenzo and Tilde back towards the snake, and in a split-second I decided to jump. I jumped over the snake in the little space available between it and Kenzo and Tilde in front of me, bracing myself to be bitten on landing.
Luckily that never happened. Although they very rarely are fatal for humans, their bite can be fatal for children and pets. In Denmark mostly tourists are bitten, probably because they are unaware these snakes live here. An unusual high percentage of people getting bitten, are male tourists bitten in their hand. No doubt in an attempt to pick up that cute little fellow. Bad idea.
We walked up and down the driveway and every time Tilde showed an interest, I did my best "Eek! Bad snake!" and moved away. She picked it up quite quickly, and moved passed the snake with as much distance as possible. The next day she responded the same, and as a test I moved the snake a little longer up the driveway, and this time on the right instead of the left where we found it.
Again she was sniffing the snake. Apparently Tilde only learned the snake-on-left-side-of-the-road was bad. We continued our training, moving the snake to different places until one day it was gone.
Probably eaten by wildlife, I guessed. Until maybe two weeks later, I noticed it again not far from where we last left it. It had dried out by now I could see, and while I pondered if we could still use its services, Tilde rushed in from behind me, took one sniff, bit off the head of the snake and ate it.
Maybe it was just Tilde telling me this was boring and decided to end this useless training, it was definitely not the outcome I had hoped for. We might need to come up with a new snake strategy.
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