REPTILE HANDLING FOR A LIVELIHOOD.
THE MOST PERILOUS CALLING IN THE WORLD.
When a woman purchases a boa—if it is a Teal second-tend Ostend rabbitskin' masquerading as the genuine' article it doesn't matter as long as she is ignorant of the terrible secret—she is, as a rule, very proud of her new possession. And'why not? It is\'notorious that there is nothing like & boa to set off a dimple, yet it may- bo doubted if there are many fair' creatures on the face of this earth who would care to wear a live boa-constrictor round their dainty necks, dimples or no dimples. ' . There is one lady, however, ani Mademoiselle. Paula is her name, who not only encircles her neck with boa-constrictors, but fondles them as if they were tame mice. Mdlle Paula is a Bavarian by birth, * and is known throughout Europe and the east as the most daring handler of reptiles in the world. Hlie has travelled some-_ thing... like 40,000 miles with her trunks" crammed to the brim with snakes and crocodiles, and has recently announced in" public that she will subdue, unaided-and; unarmed, any serpent, irrespective of size, and any man-eating alligator not • exceeding 15ft in length that may be placed before her.' * " •■'"-...;
I had the good fortune the Other'day (writes a, representative of a Home paper) to.be able to arrange an interview, with Mdlle Paula, and as she came forward to greet me, I cannot honestly aver' that I .was surprised to notice that'her right hand was one mass of scars—the .indelible teethmarks of her pets. . .. ' , "There is -no need to remark that yours is decidedly the most hazardous calling extant, Mademoiselle," I said. - ; ' "Well,- I suppose it is. It is certainly more, risky than that of the lion-tamer, because} lions dan be taught to know their masters, whereas reptiles have rib■ brain'; and cannot distinguish one person.'from another. The majority of folk' appear -to imagine that snakes" can be charmed into docility. It is an,old superstition,• but as a"-matter of fact there is nostteh art as shake-charming. The only-effectual way to combat a serpent- is to ifatch him -and demonstrate to his dissatisfaction -that- you are not in the least afraid of him.
f.''.l have onlj- one- method, and- that' is' to. go straight for the head of a; '.reptile. This may not be .easy, but I wait patiently until the moment for action arrives! In the - case of a boa-cpnstrictor—l have one 15ft" in length—he will generally follow me about with, the object of crushing me,' but I; dodge him,' always keeping at*a safe distance from: his teeth. Thenj.whep. an opportunity arises, I grasp him firmly below his head. ' ~ . ; '
.-; ";There is one important point", to be observed mv coiling a boa-constrictor round one's neck, and that-is never to allow the., head and tail to meet. Neglect of .this rtile means certain death, for the boa tills bycrushing. Even when' his head: knd tall are apart he causes some : The strength-of 'a' serpent lies in his head and^ tail. Cut off his tail and his fighting: capa-.; city is gone. I suppose you have "heard thatl dived into a, tank alive with reptile's.' ;>-.■■-'•' By-the-bye," ■continued Mdlle'' Kula
! after a .pause; '"■ there; is another erroneous, Ij" idea that is very prevalent, and that is'thatf the teeth of my reptUes.are extra,eted before ;I: touch -, them. »I ' should be extremely , \ happy to permit any ■ doubting person • to. put. his.: fingers into the . mouth of \ any. one of my specimens that, he chooses- to select. Students' of zoology' are perfectly w.ell aware that reptiles die when they lose their teeth.;" ''■■ - " -,-.-' ":-- r
: ." How about this statement of. yours that youwill subdue any. reptile in the 'universe?' Has anyone accepted; your-challenge?"V. X "Oh, lots of people.' 'I.'don't wish to frighten the carmen of LondonVbufc/snakes -^huge fellows, too—are "positively being forwarded to my-rhouse through the agency, of the parcel' delivery companies. A basket was-: brought .to me a few days ago"," and' you, can picture my^ surprise when I inform you that on lifting the lid ■'»-python'slid" forth. ■- It was --one of .those powerful creatures that, crush bullocks to death. Well,' he'had to be got under control somehow, so I let him tire himself out—he' chased me;round and round the room^and then l'ippe'd;\him by 'the head: : Three days laiter.' he-had""His" revenge: ';The bite" he gave me l'-shall not soon forget." '/'■," '■ » .<!-. . "A rather funny incident occurred some; weeks ago. An indiyidual challenged Vine to subdue a large alligator at the Zoological Gardens. I 'accepted the -■ challenge'; and taking a-large basket 'with me to' the |Zoo I :-popped the reptile inside and conveyed him' to a; four-wheeler. Cabby not knowing his fare placed the basket imder his feet.: But we had not gone far' before .I" heard a tremendous shouting, and on leanifi'g dut of ".the windov/ I perceived the tail; of mv alligator 'jutting from the basket, -'in an-. other instant he was snapping his jaws in the street and people were running awayas fast as they could go.' The cab flaying been brought to a stop I jumped 6\it, seizing a shawl from the shoulder,^ of,' abystande!- J threw it over the reptile's head, and after a-'little trouble succeeded in depositing him in his prison again.".:,; "Do you carry the whole of'j'ourinena-.: gerie in baskets?" ■ .;
."'Yes, and each basket is lined with' warming, pans. Reptiles . must be : kept! warm." - ■:"" ..''.■...'' , -■"!''*'''?.'£;.
" What do they eat?^ " .: '£•; ' "Live . rabbits, and pigeons. Tliey-.pi-e fed about once every two month's^ but strangely enough, although . they have "a rooted antipathy to human,beings.and will attack them at every opportunity if you put a living animal or bird into their cage they won't harm it if they are no'tnimgry/ After snakes have partaken*of a meal they lie 'dormant for 12 or 14 days, and-until the meal has been digested they are useless for my work." .-•'-. * " " ■"One more question to conclude the cross-examination. What do you. pay for ■your reptiles?" . - * .'".-..-.■..-. ■■'■"•The price entirely depends on their size.1 Some of my" serpents cost £15 apiece:_ The retail charge for a small alligator is about a sovereign per foot, buferfor piie measuring Bft £15 would probably ..be asked." , .' -...: ". :
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