Probably nobody picked my favorite Christmas animal. It never appears in manger scenes, but religious sites worldwide feature it. It rarely appears on American dinner tables, but it’s a popular Asian food. This animal lays eggs, but it’s not a chicken or turkey. It figured prominently in the life of Moses, and Jesus pointed to it as a type of Christ.
Have you guessed my favorite Christmas animal?—It’s the Snake!
Snakes live on every continent except Antarctica. Of 3,000 known species, only 725 are venomous, and only 250 species can kill humans. North America has 120 snake species, 20 of which are venomous. The U.S. averages ten deaths annually from snake bites, while worldwide deaths are estimated at 125,000.
Despite claims to the contrary, snakes actually do “eat dust” per God’s curse on the serpent for deceiving Eve (Genesis 3:14). Snakes pick up dirt particles with their darting forked tongues. The vomeronasal sensory organ in the roof of the mouth “smells” the dust particles for possible prey. The fork in the tongue provides the snake with a directional sense of smell to follow a trail.
Cambodia has the world’s largest snake harvest because it also has the largest crocodile harvest, and snakes are a crocodile’s favorite food. Snakes are to crocodiles as chickens are to man, except that most men do not eat live chickens in one bite.
Cambodia has 900 crocodile farms, some with 2,000 crocodiles, which are raised for their meat and hides. Sour crocodile soup and croc curry are favorite dishes. Snake hunters annually harvest 4 million snakes from Tonle Sap, southeast Asia’s largest lake. Most of the snakes are sold to crocodile farms at $1 for 50 snakes. Other snakes are sold for their skins to make shoes, wallets, or purses, while some are sold to restaurants for meat.
Subsequent blog posts will explain why the Snake is my favorite Christmas animal.
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
Monday December 22, 2008 A.D.
For the LORD gives wisdom. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.