There is a common question that is asked when discussing snakes and their medical importance - How dangerous is it?
Traditionally authors have attached danger ratings to venomous animals in an attempt to indicate the consequences of being bitten or stung, however, all that danger ratings convey is a superficial understanding of how we interact with the natural world.
We can all appreciate that driving a car down a busy street at 200km per hour is dangerous, but sitting in a parked car is not. It’s not the car that introduces that element of danger, but rather how we interact with the car. The same applies to snakes and other venomous animals.
In the same way, how we interact with a snake determines danger. A calm and relaxed black mamba is not dangerous at all, however if we try to kill it, try to harm it, or try to catch it, then create a catalyst for the element of danger as the animal will defend itself the best way it can... using it’s venom.
Many scorpion stings are the results of a random encounter. We often disturb scorpion from their shelters, or step on them at night. Through being more aware of these animals, we can reduce such encounters. Always use a torch at night, be careful when collecting firewood. Being more aware of our environment reduces the risks associated with scorpions and other animals.
Venomous animals represent the furtherest point of our disconnection with nature. The knee-jerk reaction of asking “how dangerous is it?” illustrates how we perceive the world around us. Our attitudes that we have towards venomous animals serve as a red flag as to how our culture demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of the most basic natural processes that give us life.
Fear of these creatures is a learned behaviour, passed down from neurotic parents, creating potholes of ignorance amongst clan members. It is this learned behaviour that manufactures fear. We are afraid of venomous animals not because of what we know, but because of what we don’t know.
If we really want to label things as dangerous, then the act of smoking, driving a car, skydiving, eating fast foods and drinking alcohol are all far more dangerous than snakes.