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31 December 2018


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One thousand deaths a year is some toll - and Raymond thinks it could be higher!

Here in the UK the only poisonous snake we have is an irritant rather than a threat.

Nevertheless I find, to my on-going bemusement, that despite been absent from PNG since 1975, my fear of being bitten is still strong and I have to consciously tell myself it is safe to put my hands into old piles of wood or other litter.

Respect for those PNG snakes has left a permanent mark.

Raymond, very interesting. I myself spent several years at Bomana (the Seminary not the Prison) outside Port Moresby.

We were always careful, especially at night, about snakes in the vicinity. We were especially wary of the snakes known as Papuan Blacks.

Walking with a visitor around the Seminary grounds one night I explained that we carried a torch with us to light the road in case of snakes.

The visitor then said to me, “What was that thing back there that we just passed?” I looked back shining the torch, and sure enough we had just missed walking over a snake!

A colleague from India claimed that at night the frogs gave a specific warning croak, distinctive from their normal croak, if there was a snake in the vicinity, but I do not know if there was any scientific basis for such claim.

Coming back from the city at night on the road going by the Bomana Police Barracks it was not uncommon to see Carpet Snakes crossing the road, - I believe these were not poisonous.

In the Jimi I remember seeing a long snake that the people had killed – maybe a tree python – and it was over ten feet long. I also remember seeing a pig attacking a small snake on the road near Karap.

Only once did I kill a snake, and that was not intentional. On my own in the bush near Moika, Mt. Hagen I saw ahead of me on the bush path a young boy crying.

Looking closer I saw that between me and the boy there was a snake rearing up. I had a walking stick with me and I threw it at the snake in an attempt to chase it away.

The stick hit the snake around the head and the snake collapsed on the ground. The snake never moved again. I lifted it on the stick and carried it back to the road where I had left the Land Cruiser.

The people who saw it there said it was dangerous, but I do not think it was poisonous. With the exception of the Bayer River valley, where there are death adders, I am not aware of poisonous snakes in Western Highlands.

PS, There are no snakes in Ireland.

Keith, concerning the Charles Campbell centre, I believe it is rightly termed "Toxinology" and not "Toxicology". That is what I got from the internet. I believe there's a difference in the two words when it comes to the study and science of poison/ toxins. Thanks.

Thanks, Ray, fixed that - KJ

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