Animal Tales

Although I might not be crazy about animals, I always enjoy a good story or two about them. Inspired by today’s newspaper and a squirmish situation yesterday, I have a few quick tales to comment on.

Snakes in Church – I read a fascinating article this morning about where preachers go to get snakes for their church services. Say what? At fundamentalist churches in the Southeast, it is not uncommon for preachers to handle snakes during their services. To them, it shows their faith. Anyway, the article revealed that many of these ministers come here to South Carolina to purchase their rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, and copperheads because our state does not limit the sale of venomous snakes. The story did a great job at telling the history and scope of this practice, but it focused specifically on one minister who actually died in 2014 from a snake bite when a serpent he purchased in South Carolina turned on him.

Talk about guts (and faith). These preachers aren’t just delivering their sermons while clutching deadly snakes. They are dancing and singing with them too. Pointing to a bible verse that says they shall take up serpents, there is a literal reason for why they are doing this. I don’t think I could ever get myself to handle something that could kill me in an instant (let alone be in the same worship space as someone who could), but perhaps that is an indictment on my own faith. 

This photo is of Jamie Coots, the man who died preaching while holding a snake (photo courtesy of The State).

Turtle Farm – I read another really interesting South Carolina-focused animal story this morning. It just so happens that our state has a highly secure turtle farm! Well, it is technically a hidden nature preserve and it houses some of the world’s rarest turtles. The Turtle Survival Center is located east of Charleston but don’t think for a moment you will get an address. The exact location of the place is unavailable to the public for fear of thieves. Turtles at this place, more than 700 of them, are highly coveted around the world, with many of them worth $10,000. If people knew where to find the preserve, it would be a haven for criminals looking to steal and sell the creatures on the black market.

The Turtle Survival Center exists to reverse the trend of declining turtle populations. The turtle trade has done great damage and now the center has to do all it can to save numerous species, many of which now only exist on the premises. I think it is fascinating that the most exotic turtles from all around the globe are basically under one roof just a couple hours away from me. However, I also find it sad that the turtle population is in such danger.

One of the many turtles at the South Carolina preserve.

Heebie-Jeebies – I can do rats, spiders, and – as long as I am not holding them – snakes. But for whatever reason, I can’t do bugs. My skin crawls just thinking about them. Unfortunately for me, South Carolina is not only a breeding ground for cockroaches but it is home to a bug that puts the former to shame– the Palmetto bug. If you think of a cockroach on steroids with wings, then you can picture a Palmetto bug. They are all over the state and they find their way into everything.

Yesterday afternoon, I was finishing up in my office. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something brown inching its way up my wall. I looked to my right and frantically jumped out of my chair as a massive Palmetto bug was crawling on one of my frames. As I escaped, the bug fell from my wall onto my papers. I watched it quickly scatter away. Pathetic how a bug can traumatize a grown man, right? I was on edge for the final 15 minutes I was in the office. As I was about to leave, I saw the thing crawling on the floor. I was thankfully able to end my paranoia as I killed it (wait, was it the same one?). As a co-worker told me, seeing a Palmetto bug indoors has nothing to do with the cleanliness of an area nor does it mean there is an infestation. It is just a fact of living in this part of the country.


On that note, I am going to stop talking about animals, especially creepy crawlers. Thanks for reading my nature-related blog post and remember to do what you can to save the turtles. Don’t Blink.

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