In recent years, snakes have become increasingly popular as household pets, and with more than 3,000 species from which to choose, you should have little difficulty finding one that suits your character, temperament and domestic situation.
For instance, the Pygmy Moccasin is small enough to live in a shoe and thrives on a diet of toenails, heel scrapings and rubber insoles, while the Rusty Krait can be comfortably housed in any car or van registered before March 1998. Boa Constrictors are also an excellent choice and can be trained to open vacuum sealed jars, provide effective lagging for hot water pipes and add an exotic touch to decorative friezes on Christmas and birthday cakes.
The Praying Mamba is the obvious option for regular churchgoers, though it can be easily confused with the Playing Mamba, whose skittish disposition and ability to imitate a clarinet can sometimes seem out of place during religious worship.
The world’s most dangerous snake is the Inland Taipan of Australia, whose bite can kill up to 100 adults, and others to avoid include the Pit Bull Viper, which can eat small council officials and slow moving pensioners; the Bandy-Bandy, whose venom can cause rickets within minutes; and the notorious Weinstein Trouser Snake, mainly found in coastal regions of the United States and whose predatory assaults are now known to cause long-lasting physical and psychological trauma.
In the UK, the last recorded fatality involving a snake was in 1959, when a partially deaf 67-year-old climber misheard a warning of “adder” as “ladder” and fell to his death from Creag Meagaidh when the envisaged rungs failed to materialise.