There is something about snakes that frighten most people. It could be the menacing glare, flickering tongue or the sinister expression that these poor serpentine creatures have been imbued with. Agreeably, they are not the most aesthically cute and cuddly animals on the planet, yet they do have their place and position within the broader eco system…even if it happens to be just outside my window.
Not even the birds had seen this beautiful Vine snake. I barely recognised it, save for a flash of red as its tongue shot out and in, grabbing my scent to analyse on his organ of jacobson. I lost the snake for a moment as he melted back into the haystack of branches and leaves bristling in the warm summer breeze.
It was the perfect time for him to be active. Midday, hot, sunny and contrasted so heavily in the shade that if not for his red forks I would have nonchalantly strolled past him like I had all his contemporaries earlier that day.
On closer inspection he didn’t seem so bad, so evil or sinister. Instead his scales floated along the branches, every muscle embracing the callous bark beneath. He truly was one with the tree. The patterns of his skin matched perfectly and the poses he held were very branchlike indeed. Perhaps he was more of a jester than what most people knew to be the most venomous snake in Africa?
My musings almost lost him again amidst the rustle of branches signifying the swallows brief landing. He seemed to have lost the desire to be a ‘branch’ and now was back to being a snake. He was a continual stream of muscle, upwardly rising and intensely focused. The swallow never saw him coming, the birds nerves never had a chance against the heamotoxic venom and the momentary flutter of activity subsided once more as the snake once again became a branch waiting for his prey to die.
I left him to wonder why I was no longer frightened by this snake. Was it because I had seen the elegance amidst his natural behaviour? Was it because I found him to be beautiful? Or did I not need to fear something which had always been living outside my window and had yet to pose any threat to my existence?
Written, filmed and photographed by: Rich Laburn