My article on snakes, Creepy, Crawly Caper caught one very attentive reader, Jeremy De Silva who had much to say about that subject, so much so that I did an online interview with him and came out with a sequel. Jeremy, if readers would remember, was the guy in my past blog post who wore diapers and cycled. Wait, wrong guy. No, he’s in my Cha’ah in USJ post, my schoolmate remember?
First, he caught me on Facebook and registered his surprise that I was scared of snakes. He too grew up in plantations (called “estates” here) and, here’s the best part, he catches snake for money!!! This business never existed in the estates I grew up in, and the most I could have sold is dead squirrels, but Jeremy used to earn RM15 per snake it seems. Before you start doing your accounting, let me ask Jeremy this: “Are you nuts?”. Luckily, Jeremy, also a writer, did not respond and say, “You should be asking, were you nuts?”
It seems at the age of thirteen or fourteen when he first picked up snake hunting. Yes, at the precarious age when we discover, among others, sex, our friend was busy discovering the art that kills hundreds and thousands in
“The irony of the whole episode was that my dad was actually importing cobras from neighbouring estates as a measure for rat control,” he said in an interview chat with me. “and he never knew then that his son was having easy pickings.”
Jeremy the Cobra Hunter’s technique was simple. All needed as tool was a PVC pipe, the ones used for plumbing, and a long length of electrical wire, creating a loop outside of the one end of the pipe, while both ends of the wire will be at the opposite end of the pipe. Operating with his pal, Ramesh, both take turn to distract the cobra and get it to raise its head while the other have the loop to go around the head and pull both ends the wire and “voila! Captured!”
That was how Jeremy the Cobra Catcher did it and he usually gets about three to five snakes a day and in the meantime De Silva senior is thinking how come those damn rats are still hanging around about despite the cobra imports. Have the snake gone soft!
But how do you locate these snakes? As mentioned they are everywhere, but usually they are slithering about scaring young plantation kids like yours truly, but where do find the spot to catch them red-handed….wait snakes got no hand.
“Well,” said Jeremy the Cobra Head Looper, “if you remember in the oil palm estates they would prune the palms and stack them in between the rows of trees? That's where the snakes are, man!”
Eventually one of them would lift the stacks of these dried branches and they would either throw a firecracker and just poke it with the pipe to drive the snakes out. “Not every stack housed a snake,” he reminded. I know, Jeremy the Cobra Poker, they also house millipede, centipede, meterpede…oh wait, those are monitor lizards.
But I countered with the fact that they might strike as soon as you lift those damned branches. They, meaning the cobras, not Jeremy the Cobra Botherer and his pal, though the distinction between these two groups is beginning to blur.
“No, No, No!” he protested. “Cobra never strikes without warning!”
Rakesh: What? They say “Freeze” or something?
Jeremy: No. They will hiss at least 3 times before striking
Rakesh: Well, probably it means "freeze" in their hiss language.
Jeremy: It means "f*ck off if you wanna live!”.
Jeremy the Cobra Terminator added that some cobras would not even try to attack you; they see you and start slithering for their life. Not where I lived, most of the time. I must add that though we went to the same school, we lived in different estates. If people like Jeremy were to live in the plantations that I lived in, I am sure cobras would have packed up their pots and pans and all and left to greener pastures like…err the next estate. Bloody hell, Jeremy’s estates was sort of next to mine! No wonder!
“But,” interjected Jeremy the Snake Chaser, “if the cobra is nesting, then we bolt as fast as we can coz they actually chase you.” There he admitted himself. In fact, he said he was chased twice, once by a cobra that was about 8 feet long.
“That was a little scary but I had my trusty catapult (Lastik) in hand so I shot it dead,” he said, asking if I used Lastik before, a tool that he describes accurately as “every estate kid's ultimate weapon”, though I would also add “supply of rotten fruits” to that list.
So yeah, we had Lastiks too, but ours was mostly used to shooting squirrels which has been stealing our fruit (mango, guava, etc). But the buggers were too fast for aiming and shooting, so most of the time I end up shooting the fruits which sort of defeated the purpose.
And so, where do these captured cobras go, if you are curious to know. Well, Jeremy the Cobra Annihilator said they were sold to some contractors (outsiders who provide workforce on contract basis) who would…and ye city folks better be ready for this…drink its blood for health purposes. Or more likely to increase energy for certain nocturnal activities (there were no email spam then).
“They believe that the fresh blood of the cobra has the properties to heal all kinds of ailments,” said Jeremy The Cobra Blood Supplier, “Silly people. But what did I care, I wanted the cash.”
These days Jeremy the (Retired) Cobra Seeker’s life is basically sitting back, having left behind the serpent hunting business, and is now heading his own advertisement agency called Sapiens Adwork, where instead of Cobras, he hunts for clients. Frankly I think he would be better off to call his business Cobra Adwork, but then he might go back to his old ways and use PVC pipe and wires to hunt for clients.
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