Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SteveReviews: The Secret Life of Snakes

You’ll be glad to know that this week’s #SteveReviews is snake themed! It turns out that Amazon Prime Video has a lot more herpetological documentaries that have now been added to my ‘to watch list’. The first of these is The Secret Life of Snakes, which has a European grass snake on the title card which sold it to me immediately! This documentary film is a little over 50 minutes in length and was first released in 2016, before the taxonomic split of grass snakes so we can let them off there. The only qualm I do have with the documentary is the erroneous use of the word poisonous when describing venomous snakes.

If you hadn’t guessed it already, the documentary focusses on the legless wonder that is snakes…but not just any snakes, European snakes. As someone studying a European snake species (Natrix helvetica), I am extremely happy to see them feature in a full-length wildlife documentary. I feel that most people think that you need to travel to far-flung locations to see and watch spectacular wildlife – the truth is that it is far closer to home than they realise. Species such as the Aesculapian snake and the nose-horned viper can be found across Continental Europe where they play vital roles in the ecosystems where they occur.

Something this documentary excels at is spectacular photography that really captures the true nature of snakes. A whole host of snake species are persecuted in Europe, despite the fact it is illegal, even including the harmless ones. The reason in most cases? They perceive the snakes to be a risk despite the fact that as long as those people leave the snakes alone or seek immediate medical attention if they are unluckily envenomated, they’ll be fine. Snakes play a vital role in keeping ‘pest’ species down and helping to reduce the spread of disease which could be potentially life-threatening to people in the process.

The other thing the documentary delivers well is the conservation need for some species, giving us a history of their former range and why it has contracted so much. I just wish there were more like this out there, helping to paint a positive picture of snakes in a world where they are a symbol of evil in religion, the media and society. If you’re a fellow herpetologist or someone just interested in snakes, give this quick documentary a watch. Thankfully the full thing is on YouTube and I’ve embedded it below so there are no excuses!

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