Front page

Are you afraid of the dark?

(Click to invert colors, weenie.) (Requires JavaScript.)

All email will be assumed to be for publication unless otherwise requested.

What's in the banner?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Was You Ever Bit by a Dead Snake?

A couple weeks ago TCM showed the Bogart & Bacall movie To Have and Have Not. In that movie Walter Brennan's character is always asking people, "Was you ever bit by a dead bee?"

Apparently the answer to the question is some sort of test of character, but I didn't get it.[1] I tried googling around to see if it was explained anywhere, but didn't find anything. I did find this page, which contains an item (second one) on being bit by dead snakes.

According to that little snippet, the strike reflex remains active for an hour after death. In a study by two Phoenix doctors, they found that about 15% of their patients (they did not have an enormous sample, mind) were bitten by dead snakes. Two of those snakes had even been decapitated when they struck.

That was a couple weeks ago, as I said. Today, I find this:

A man said he was bitten by the decapitated head of a rattlesnake on his property near Prosser, Wash. Danny Anderson and his son saw the 5-foot rattler Monday evening while feeding horses. They pinned it with a pipe and cut off its head with a shovel. When Anderson reached down to pick it up, he said, the snake head twisted around and bit his index finger.

So beware of dead snakes. I'd keep an eye on them even long after death. Just because a snake's been turned into a belt, or a pair of boots, is no reason to let your guard down. That probably makes 'em extra mean.

That first article went on to say that bees can sting a short while after death, but no one ever makes a belt out of bees.

[1]For the record, I was bit (well, stung) by a dead wasp when I was about four. My sister was once bit by a dead sweat bee, but to be fair, she bit the bee first (which is how it died).