This is from a true event in the summer of 1968.
When I was on
I always traveled the jungles with water, net, flashlight, hat and shorts. Nothing else. That would keep me going for a good 8 hours. When collecting insects, you need to seek out different habitats. For these little creatures, sometimes that may mean just trekking a hundred yards off the familiar paths.
I quickly learned that caves could be recognized from a great distance. They always had different foliage near their entrances. I think the moisture and cool breathing of the vents created a distinctly different atmosphere. So I got really good at finding the caves, good for insects and interesting in their own right.
One particular cave was at the end of a path. The day was typically hot and sunny. Here at home it would be considered immensely oppressive, but I had acclimated to it for over a year. As usual, I was anxious to get to the entrance and peer in and maybe even explore a bit with my flashlight. The cave was breathing out and I could feel the cool air rising up my legs as I descended toward the gaping blackness peacefully beckoning visitors.
Prudence is not me, but I think the cool air gave me pause. I stopped and thought “This is the kind of place snakes would like – better look around.” Well, just a few yards ahead was a large adult Habu, coiled on a waist-high pile of rocks – right beside the path. He was already raised in strike position, and waving left-right to detect my range. Had I proceeded he surely would have bit me hard and high. Every year several natives are killed by these Timber Rattler look alikes, without rattles!
So I retreated and pondered what I would have done if bitten. I concluded I would have quite possible been a goner. Far from help, metabolism pumping and probably bitten where a tourniquet couldn’t help.
But it didn’t happen. I was more cautious on future expeditions. Tom
© 2012 Thomas Dey - 4/1/12