Bad snakes have been giving good snakes a bum rap for eons. It all started when the Biblical Eve bit into the apple she had obtained from the proverbial snake in the tree and realized she was naked. It must have been a shocking discovery. Snakes have been pummeled, stomped, cut up, diced, crushed, shot, speared and smashed ever since.
Actually, there is no such thing as a bad snake; there are only snakes that have had a bad childhood and will bite you if you step on them or wake them up when they are sunbathing on their favorite rock or lollygagging in a scummy pond. They don’t really mean to kill you; it’s a waste of good venom. Normally, we are too big to eat.
I’ve had numerous snake encounters over the years from the rainforests of the Amazon and West Africa to the rattlesnake country of the American West. Believe me when I say there is nothing like stepping on a log and having it come alive with the buzz of rattlesnakes. I once set an Olympic record for the standing long jump when that happened. Another time, I almost sat on a rattler when I was going to the bathroom in the woods. I couldn’t poop for days.
The Jornada Mogollon people of the Three Rivers Petroglyph site must have had a special relationship with snakes. There are numerous snake glyphs scattered throughout the area… and these are BIG snakes with BIG heads and jaws. “The better to bite you with my dear.” I suspect the snakes were considered sacred and worshipped, which is what the nearby Navajo and Hopi people did.
Rattlesnakes weren’t the only poisonous denizens of the desert recorded in the petroglyphs of Three Rivers. There were also spiders and scorpions. On the more benign side of the equation, there were numerous rock art lizards.
This frog doesn’t belong here along with the reptiles and bugs but he absolutely had to go somewhere.
NEXT BLOG: Patterns in the rock. We will look at some of the many geometric patterns found among the petroglyphs and guess at their meaning.