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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Snake, the most misunderstood of animals

There is the good as well as the bad aspects of the snake, more good in fact than evil

One of the most misunderstood, detested and ill-treated among animals is the snake!

Biblically, it was the “serpent”, whose intelligence may have exceeded man then, that persuaded Adam and Eve to take the forbidden fruit. Whether one believes in it literally or figuratively, the so-called downfall and condemnation of this species of animal began from that moment.

Once a beautiful creature, perhaps among the most beautiful, it was relegated to the ground, without feet, condemned to slithering and crawling on its whole physical frame, and indeed to this day, it can with great speed too.

Even to this day, some species of cobra and snakes display such majestic splendour and grace when upright and in its alert state.

Though a few species are poisonous, most bites are not lethal, even from so-called poisonous snakes, and most snakes do not bite unless stepped on or confronted.

Ironically, millions of people have died from the single bite of a mosquito from deadly malaria, dengue, and other mosquito borne disease, compared to those from snake bites.

Man’s two best friends, the dog and the horse, have caused far more deaths from their bites than the snake.

From the snake, medical science has learned a lot about blood-clotting and nerve paralysis, two of the common mechanisms of action of snake venom.

Apart from its purported medicinal value for the traditional practitioner, western medicine has also benefited from snake venom to produce antitoxins and other blood-clotting related medicines including the wonder clot-buster TPA.

Symbolically, snakes depict wisdom, strength and authority.

In the Old Testament, the stick of Moses became a snake, which outbattled the snakes of the magicians of Egypt.

It was the Almighty who sent snakes to punish the Israelites, and it was the intervention or intercession of Moses that saved them from attack and extinction by snake-bite.

A golden snake set on a pole was used and raised, so that any Israelite bitten by a snake could gaze at it, and be healed.

So, there is the good as well as the bad aspects of the snake, more good in fact than evil.

May this Lunar Year of the Snake be a partic`ULAR’ly spectac`ULAR’ year ahead!

By Dr KH SNG, The Star/Asia News Network

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