THIS Barbados Snake is no cause for panic!

Dear Editor,

Please publish this brief bit of info and accompanying photo because slowly but surely a snake paranoia is rearing it’s ugly head in Barbados yet again. Ever since the Grazettes ‘snake sighting calls’ have increased in frequency to Mr. Ian Gibbs (an expert in INSECTS NOT SNAKES) Head of the Entomology Department of the Ministry of Agriculture – which is unfair to him and a waste of his valuable time; with Veterinary Services, the Royal Barbados Police Force and Fire Service likely to be subject to the same waste of their valuable time by ‘snake sighting‘ callers.

The Caribbean Herpetological Society (CHS) will take your calls at 228-0227 – and has a video of this harmless local snake (Scientific name: Mastigodryas bruesi) on YouTube (typeBarbados Snake‘) seen in the accompanying photo – which may further help members of the public to identify this most sighted LOCAL snake that is NOT dangerous to anything except a lizard or a mouse.

We are primarily concerned with the two illegal species that were smuggled into Barbados such as Boa constrictors and Burmese Pythons (of which the latter is on Time Magazine’s 10 most dangerous Invasive species list for 2010). So please do not call us because you see an unusual lizard and expect us to race to your rescue, we actually have normal lives and are only VOLUNTEERING to help the authorities in Barbados to deal with potential serious risks to human beings, not cater to anyone’s paranoid fears of what are in fact only harmless reptiles.

Inspector Wayne Norville (more mobile than the CHS) of the RSPCA will often try to help members of the public – but as far as BOTH of us are concerned, please DO NOT CALL unless you actually have visible contact with ANY OTHER snake besides the local Mastigodryas bruesi, a call to search an area where you think/actually saw something hours or days ago has always proven to be a complete waste of our time – like looking for the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack‘, but every time the caller has been on a phone and has maintained visual contact with the snake until we arrive – we HAVE been able to capture with a 100% success rate.

The Caribbean Herpetological Society (CHS) will take your calls at 228-0227; and has a video of this harmless local snake (Scientific name: Mastigodryas bruesi) on YouTube (type 'Barbados Snake') seen in the accompanying photo - which may further help members of the public to identify this most sighted LOCAL snake that is NOT dangerous to anything except a lizard or a mouse.

On a final note, I would like to inform the public that several small and harmless species of snakes WERE legally (not illegally) imported into Barbados prior to 1993 such as Ribbon Snakes, Garter Snakes, Corn Snakes, Milk Snakes and Royal Pythons (a dwarf species), and are still in private hands 17 years later – and NONE of them has ever caused any harm to our environment or citizenry…

Yet every Barbadian has heard of someone who was severely bitten or lost livestock to dogs, your personal BIAS lends you to say ‘Ban all snakes!’ for where is your empirical evidence to justify your unwarranted hostility to the harmless species? Just because you don’t like the way they look? Educate yourselves people, both evolutionists and creationists agree that snakes were on the Earth before human beings and if you learn of their ecological niche in the natural order you would realize that they have a right to continue to share this planet with us.

Yours sincerely,

Damon Gerard Corrie
Herpetoculturalists of 20 years &
Founder/President of the Caribbean Herpetological Society

2 Responses

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  1. Dear Mr. Corrie, I read your letter to the editor with interest. I found it both rude and offensive. You fail to recognize a paranoid fear for what it is in this case: an UNCONTROLABLE fear of the unknown. One of the core missions of the organization you founded should be to educate, and if Barbados remains ignorant of the nature of these ?harmless? creatures, then you have failed. Your attitude of ?stop wasting our time? was uncalled for. If I have a paranoid fear of snakes do you really think that I will approach one in order to determine if it is the harmless Barbadian variety or a more dangerous type. Instead my ‘paranoid delusion” will suggest that the bigger snake is nearby and I should take evasive action now before it is too late or attempt to destroy the treat. Help me overcome my fear through education, without condemning me for my ignorance. By the way, I also have a paranoid fear of centipedes!

  2. Dear Mr. Hollingsworth – let me begin by first thanking you for using your real name, nothing worse that a criticism hidden behind a pseudonym.
    I DO actually recognize ‘paranoia’ and I also recognize that I am not a psychiatrist so sorry – can’t help you sort that one out, seek one qualified to deal with such.

    Whether you find my candor rude and offensive is a matter of your personal interpretation, I am no politician or diplomat and have no need to apologize profusely to anyone, and indeed we HAVE educated thousands who are merely lacking the information needed to formulate a rational response to a close encounter with a snake, but as you so eloquently explained – a paranoid person (such as yourself) has an UNCONTROLLABLE fear – and therefore unless someone with specific training teaches such a person to CONTROL that fear and think rationally, THAT would be yet another waste of my time to even attempt to do so.

    Barbados does not remain ignorant, only some of it’s citizens, and no-one can solve everyone’s problems…well maybe God himself perhaps, but not a mere mortal such as I surely!

    Somehow I fail to see the part in my article above where I said anything about “approaching any snake you see in order to determine whether it is harmless or not”, try to be factual in your constructive criticism. One can safely stay several meters away from a snake and observe where it is going whilst simultaneously using a phone to call in your live sighting – which is what a rational person would do (and have done).

    The mere fact that I included a colour photo of the local snake is in itself an act to help educate the public than if it looks like the snake in the photo I provided – it is no cause for concern, a rational person would realize and appreciate that in my opinion.

    When people were calling my cell number at all hours of the day and night leaving me with an almost thousand dollar phone bill in 3 months that no-one helped me to pay (hence I had to shut it down) – but all who contributed to it expected me to be at their beck and call because they ‘think’ a snake might be under their house, or in nearby bushes, or to catch a frog, a toad, a green lizard in their house, or some other NONSENSE…you are seriously going to tell ME that my ‘stop wasting our time’ is ‘uncalled for’ ?

    I have a wife and 4 children and several PAYING jobs that actually help me earn a living that demand my attention during daylight hours, and I look forward to trying to get 8 hours of sleep every night so let whomever feels offended – remain offended.


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