THIS Barbados Snake is no cause for panic!
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 (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.
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.
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.
Damon Gerard Corrie
Herpetoculturalists of 20 years &
Founder/President of the Caribbean Herpetological Society