Episode 32: Snake Survival Guide

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Today we are going to talk about a kind of smart and mysterious animal. You can find myths about it in a lot of cultures and in Chinese mythology as well. Some people are really scared of them. Can you guess what it is? It is snakes. In Chinese mythology, there are so much to talk about snakes and we already mentioned in our very first episode about Nvwa女娲 who created the humankind was half human half snake . Today we are going to talk about some stories about snakes in nature in Chinese mythology.

In the book LiangBanQiuYuAnSuiBian 两般秋雨庵随笔 from the Qing Dynasty 清朝, it mentioned a kind of viper living in the mountains in Guangdong 广东 province called LiangRen snake量人蛇, which means snakes that measure people. They were around two meters and they liked to compare heights with human. When LiangRen snake met with people on the roads, it would rear up and screamed, “ I am taller”. If the person didn’t respond, the viper would be so proud and strike. On the contrary, if the person held something up and replied “I am taller”, the viper would be so depressed and fell on the ground and die. So the best way to protect yourself is to bring an umbrella or a stick and hold them high above to show the viper you are taller than it. I am sure some snakes in nature really exist expect probably it wouldn’t actually say “I am taller”. It’s a dangerous game the snake is playing.

There is another kind of snake living in Mountain KunLun 昆仑 山 called TuJueBing土镢 柄, which means hoe’s handle. Hoe is kind of tool with a long handle used or turning over the soil in a garden. Maybe the name was given based on the color and size of the snake. It says this kind of snake is poisonous and looks like a rattle snake. It is known for its laziness. Since it always sleeps on the roads in the mountain. Since its color is really close to the road, it is hard to tell by people passing by. If the first person walks over it, it was too lazy to open its eyes. When the second person walks over it, it opens its eyes however too lazy to move. Until the third person walks over, it would finally attack the person. It’s like playing a game of Russian roulette. So what should you do if you walk in the mountains with a group? Any guesses? Walk in a row instead of a line. That’s the way to protect yourself from a lazy snake. If anybody tries this and gets bitten, don’t blame us.


In the book ShePu 蛇谱, it mentions one snake called huanren snake 唤人蛇, which means snake that says hi. This kind of snake lives in the grassland and when people passing by, it would ask the person very friendly”Where are you from? Where are you going? “ with very standard HeNan 河南 accent. HeNan is a province in north China. If you think the snake is being friendly and replied you are so dead. The snake would follow you even for decades of miles and eat you. So never answer a snake if it asks about your trip.


女娲 Nvwa

两般秋雨庵随笔 LiangBanQiuYuAnSuiBian

蛇谱 ShePu

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