Year of the Snake—Movie Edition

Happy Chinese New Year! The Year of the Snake starts this weekend, and that calls for a celebration—whether you’re Asian or not. It’s also a good time for a bit of snake science.

Earlier this year, scientists reported the discovery of a new snake in Mozambique, Thelotornis usambaricus. Don’t get too chummy with this twig snake, though. This reptile’s venom is deadly, and there’s no known antidote yet.

Winter is also a good time to snuggle up and watch a snake movie. Snakes on a Plane is probably my all-time favorite. Not only is the 2006 Samuel Jackson drama a good action flick, but it’s got one of the best titles of any film in the last ten years. While the scenario is unlikely, it also makes a good science point: Not all snakes and venoms are alike. Knowing what type of snake struck can save precious time for a bite victim.snakeclipart

Of course, snakes slither through lots of horror movies—some of which are quite horrible. For a lighter take on a venomous snake, check out the 1955 comedy, We’re No Angels. Viewers never actually see Albert’s pet coral snake, Adolf. But Adolf proves that snakes don’t have to be big to be deadly. And Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov deliver fantastic performances in a classic Christmas movie.

On the flip side, you’ve got to love the Incredibly Deadly Viper in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. For one thing, the name shows that scientists have a sense of humor. The herpetologist Montgomery Montgomery bestowed the name on the snake as a joke. More importantly, while all snakes are cold-blooded, they’re certainly not all killers. In fact, the majority of snakes are not venonous. The trick lies in knowing which is which.

Happy Year of the Snake!

What’s your favorite snake movie?
And what’s your favorite snake science fact?


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