World Snake Day, held every year on July 16, aims to increase awareness regarding the over 3,500 snake species that exist across the world. Yes, that’s a lot of snakes! And, guess what? Not all of them are as scary or venomous as we believe them to be. The fascinating reptiles are often not given the recognition they deserve just because of the bad reputation they have earned over the years. For instance, a friend who is a traitor is known as a ‘snake.’ The day aims to change the negative perception surrounding snakes and promote the love for all living beings — even the ones we fear.
History of World Snake Day
The English word ‘snake’ comes from the Old English word ‘snaca.’ The reptile is thought to have come from terrestrial lizards that existed around 174.1 million to 163.5 million years ago. In fact, Eophis underwoodi, the oldest fossil snake, lived in England about 167 million years ago. However, even before researchers learned about the numerous snake species, the reptile was mentioned in ancient mythologies and was also an integral part of various religions. For instance, in the Bible Satan took on the form of a snake that existed in the Garden of Eden. And it is due to the snake that Eve consumed the forbidden apple and was banished.
According to Irish mythology, in the 5th century, St. Patrick went to a hill top where he fasted for 40 days. During this time, he was attacked by snakes. To protect himself, he waved his staff and expelled all the snakes of Ireland into the sea. This is why, even today, Ireland is devoid of snakes. In another legend, the Chinese believe there once was a white female snake demon who resided underwater. According to the ancient Chinese myth, the demon took on a mortal form when she fell in love with a human, and the two later married to give birth to a boy. The twist in the plot is that the demon’s identity was revealed by the Buddhist monk, Fahai. The monk then trapped the snake demon under his lakeside pagoda. Folklore such as these often show snakes in a negative light and may be responsible for portraying them as evil beings.
World Snake Day timeline
Snakes are worshipped as gods.
Egyptian Pharaohs wear a snake symbol on the forehead.
Greek mythology introduces Medusa, a goddess who has serpents for hair.
Maggie Lee is the first child to die of a snake bite in Texas.
World Snake Day FAQs
Is the rainbow snake venomous?
The colored snake that lives in streams and swamps in southern Maryland and eastern Virginia is non-venomous.
Which snake bite kills the fastest?
The black mamba bite is the deadliest. The snake is also the fastest one in the world.
How many snakes are in India?
India is home to over 350 snake species.
How to Celebrate World Snake Day
Go to the zoo
To view a variety of snakes closely, visit the nearest zoo or reptile park and check out the different species that exist in your region. This trip can prove to be quite educational.
Raise awareness about non-venomous snake species
Use this day to bring non-venomous snake species to the forefront. All you have to do is make a simple Facebook and Twitter post, or share an article on beautiful snakes that can’t kill.
Host a drawing class
Hold a drawing class or contest where everyone gets to draw and paint the snake species they love the most. The session will prove to be educational while producing great works of art at the same time.
5 Fun Facts You Need To Know About Snakes
Snakes don’t have eyelids and sleep with their eyes open.
They smell with their tongue
Snakes have nostrils but they smell with the chemicals picked up with their tongue.
Snakes can’t chew
Since they can’t bite or chew, snakes swallow their food whole.
The only continent without snakes
Snakes are found everywhere except in Antarctica.
They have many bones
Snakes have up to 1,200 bones.
Why World Snake Day is Important
It highlights how critical snakes are to the ecosystem
Like every other living creature on this planet, snakes are extremely important for the ecosystem. This means, without snakes, a negative chain reaction for the environment may be triggered.
It helps fix the image of snakes
Snakes are hated across the world since they are seen as creatures that kill. However, not all snakes are dangerous, neither do they deserve to be hated and slaughtered. This day promotes the rights of snakes and shows how we can all coexist in harmony.
It promotes the preservation of snake species
Numerous snake species are declining due to climate change and deforestation. Some species are killed for their skins to create fashion items. On this day, thousands of people make an effort to promote the preservation of endangered snakes.
World Snake Day dates