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A SNAKE HUNT AT KURNELL.

i Ugh ! I've seen them to-day. Real, solid, material snakes. Not those of the spiritual order. Hundreds and hundreds of them I've seen, till I've contracted quite a creepy sensation, and at the thought of a anake my spine absolutely begins to wriggle. Not that my nerves are weak. But to see a man life up a ball of poisonous snakes and place them on a table in front of you, to see snakes pulled out of the grass almost under your feet, to sit on a bag of snakes, to watch a snake bite a man's hand — but there ! This is all part of my story. Fred Fox would have been an industrious, commonplace, and probably a poor artisan. But he was endowed with a special love of nature study (the pet subject of the modern day educationist), and he specialised — in snakes. So to-day, instead of being a hard-working artisan, he claims the high-sounding title of "The Snake King." He and his snakes are almost, one flesh. He lives with them, and they livo with him — often inside his shirt. He feeds them and they feed him. It was the Snake Kirrg who suggested that I should accompany him on a snake hunt, and I extracted permission to include a photographer bi the party. So yesterday morning I saet Mr. Fox at his home in worth Boteiny, the house, I noticed, being called "Snakedomia." His welcome was none the less hearty for the fact, that when he extended his hand a venomous snake, reaching out of his sleeve, darted outwaid to receive my grasp. "Go inside, Susie," said the Snake King, and flipped Susie on the head. It retreated from whence it came. But the incident served, to make my impressions more keen. I inspected the chair before I sat down, and kept the door in view ac a sort of last resource. "Yes," said Mr. Fox, in answer to my uuery, "1 have about 700 enakes in ihis house at this momen-t." "They're not allowed to stray about?" I asked with some interessfc. "Oh, no," he said. "Tliere are a few on me now. and the rest are in boxes — all except that brown one in the bag at your elbow." I flew towards the door. I had actually been jogging that "bag with my elbow as I sat in the easy chair. The Snake King laughed. "Oh! It's a beauty !" he said with enthusiasm, drawing a sft snake with a ■crimson belly out of the bag, and letting it wriggle across the table. (I was ouißide.) Then, addressing the snak«, he said, "You won't bite me?" The snake: "Hi«! Hias! Click!" (The last was the sound of its mouth snapping as it missed the Snake King's face.) "There! there! My dear. I've made you angry !" And with other soothing expressions the Snake King picked up ihe snake by its middle, and restored it to its bag. An inspection of tba various boxes in the room adjoining the bedroom supplied ample verification as "to the number of the snakes. Hundreds of whip snakes, black snakes, * brown snakes, tiger snakes, carpet snakes, diamond snakes, death adders, and other horrible reptiles were seen tied in all sorts of knots, but the knots were speedily dissntangled when the SJmake King plunged in. his hand and pulled out specimens of various kinds."Bite? Of course they'll bit?. They're full-fanged and venomous. look here !" The Snake King seized a big black snake, and forced its jaws open so that we could see the two poison fangs fixed like fish-hooks on each side inside the mouth. He explained that the poison from snakes has a high commercial value, and proceeded to shew us how he extracts it. Taking a small saucer, he stretched a piece of thin indiarubber across it. Then he held it out towards the snake. At once the reptile darted forth The poison fangs pierced the indiarubber and deposited a couple of drops of clear fluid in the saucer. "That is snake poison, and finds a ready sale," remarked the demonstrator. * But we. were wondering why the snake had fastened its teeth on the saucer instead of in" the demonstrator's hand. "Oh, I'll jusfc sort these out," was his next remark as he seized a whole ball of snakes (bigger than a footidall), and laid them on the table close beside us. When we had the courage to come inside the door again he showed us how he fed the snakes. His big fhniiiy require 20 dozen frogs a day 'alive. In his garden is a structure like a cucumber frame. It is here that be breeds the frogs — thousands of green, slimy frogs with bass voices. He has made a study of the food that frogs require. He feeds the frogs ; the frogs ;c'eed the snakes; and the snakes feed him. At length we were started on our snake-catching expedition. We took the tram to La Perouse, and a couple of blacks rowe/i us across to Kuro;ll. "The snakes are thick here," tho Snake King said, with a Learning smile. "Look at their tracks." But I could detect nothing. "See this one," he said, indicating an almost imperceptible mark on the ground, "it goes here — here — h«-re — and into this hole." Seizing a little shrub which grew over the hole, tho Snake King pullecl it out of the ground. The displaced earth was soft, and after rummaging in tit for a moment or two he cried, "I've got the first one," and he drew out a, brown snake, which hissed and darted like a water-hose- uncontrolled. He was popped into the bag without more ado. "'Only a small chap," said the King. "Better luck nuxt time." But next time hie luck was -out. A big brown enake darted into eonste thick bushes. The Snake King darted to the same spot. They met. The. man gave a short click — his tongue on the roof of his mouth, producing a Bound like a bnake's snap. < "He got me that time," said this Snaio King, showing two email punctuies from which the blood was oozing. "Wae it a poisonous enake?" .we aeked with concern. "Of course. But it's all right. I've brought my antidote." Taking a sharp pocket knife lie- cut a deep gash — about three-eighths of an inch deep— in his finger, conneciing the two punctures. From his vest h© extracted a mysterious green, vial ac.d poured some strong-smelling liquid on the wound. No further inconvenience was observed from the effects of the wound. Nor did the offender pscape. While the jtrotidote vvas being applied the Snake King noticed the reptile creep under .a rock, leaving only a short tail exposed. But that sufficed. He gave the tail a rapid pull, and out came a beautiful brown specimen. "It's always more dangerous to handle a snake from behind," said the. expert, "but this was a case in which tho exception had to be adopted. Always face your snake like this." Hft placed the snake on a eano\y patch and jerked it towards him. On. came the enako with head erect anof mouth open — like an angry cat. It paisod its head for a moment and then darted ! But a thousandth part ol a seconol previ ously the Snake King's hand hsid also darted — around the snake's neck. '.Foiled ! fhb study of animals in their haunts had made the Snake King an adept at picking up the trails of snakes, cmd almost frnrn under our feet — much to our diiscoiTipo&uie — he snatched up one "epeciuien" after another, until at lh«»end .of

two hours we cried a halt for lunch. Our "bag" then consisted of eleven enakee — four blacks, three lsrge browns, three small brown*, and one tiger snake. Our lunch wac carried in a bag similar to the snake-bag, and one of our paa'ty thrust lik ha-nd into the wrong bag by accident. Fortunately, the snakes missed an opportunity. Coming home, the writer, who had unmercifully chaffed the perpetrator of the mistake in regard to hie display of nerves, nearly "upset the boat — I placed the snake-bag on my legs, believing it wae the other bag ! — ("Special Reporter Sydney Daily Telegraph.)

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19110121.2.124

Bibliographic details

A SNAKE HUNT AT KURNELL., Evening Post, Volume LXXXI, Issue 17, 21 January 1911

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1,373

A SNAKE HUNT AT KURNELL. Evening Post, Volume LXXXI, Issue 17, 21 January 1911

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