I'm not a fan of the serpent. I'm not scared of them, mind you. I could just do without them. I'd be alright if I never saw one again.

I'm not a fan of the serpent. I'm not scared of them, mind you. I could just do without them. I'd be alright if I never saw one again. 

Good thing we have some Ozark superstitions to help us better coexist with our scaly neighbors. First of all, if you plant gourds around your home you may not have to worry about snakes at all, or at least not near the house. Snakes supposedly won't cross the gourd line. They don't like the smell. 

Everyone knows that snakes become more aggressive when shedding their skins, and Ozarkers used to say that snakes go blind when the huckleberries are ripe, which is a good way to remind yourself of when the shedding period is, which is often late summer, also called the dog days of summer. However, in reality, snakes can shed at other times of the year as well. 

When you see a blue-tailed lizard, a snake is probably close by. When you see a green tree snake, there is also probably another snake nearby. This is because green snakes are doctor snakes and help heal other serpents. 

Beware the hoop snake, which can put its tail in its mouth and roll like a wheel and chase you. Also keep watch for milk snakes, which like to suck on cows' udders. 

If you ever discover a baby playing with a snake, do not kill the snake. The child's life is tied to that of the snake's. Instead, catch the snake and let it go free. 

A single horsehair placed in a creek or river will turn into a snake. Water moccasins swallow their young at the approach of danger. Also, they can't bite you if their heads are under water. Even if they do bite you, they can't inject poison. 

You can treat snake bits by soaking the infected area in kerosene. You can also treat the bite with a poultice of soft soap and salt. Most importantly, if you do get bit by a snake, try to catch the snake and burn it immediately. 

Please remember that these are only superstitions and meant for fun. They are by no means to be considered as fact. If you get bit by a poisonous snake, or any snake at all for that matter, you better go to the closest hospital emergency room. 

Be alert when you're outdoors the rest of this summer. 

 

Wes Franklin writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.