(and presumably he has a locker)
July 8, 2010 6:55 AM   Subscribe

I have had it with these motherfucking snakes in the motherfucking tea cupboard!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:10 AM on July 8, 2010 [14 favorites]

That sounds both really boring and very dangerous all at the same time. The things people do.
posted by zeoslap at 7:10 AM on July 8, 2010 [7 favorites]

Assuming he makes it through to August, the target, his wife and young son will travel to Johannesburg for the final days.

So is August the target month, or is "the target" the nickname the snakes have given him? Also, that's a deliciously bleak-sounding sentence.
posted by heyho at 7:11 AM on July 8, 2010 [14 favorites]

I love snakes, I have snakes, but I would never consider keeping hots for the simple reason that it only takes one screw up to seriously impact you for the rest of your potentially short life.

The key to convincing yourself that you shouldn't keep venomous snakes is to tell yourself every time you get nipped: "I could be dead right now." Trust me, it works.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:14 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

How the hell's he going to sleep? And keep them out of his bed? And not roll over on one?

feeling faint
posted by jquinby at 7:15 AM on July 8, 2010

I dunno, I liked the Ziggy Stardust phase of his career better.
posted by aught at 7:17 AM on July 8, 2010 [10 favorites]

Snakes on an Insane!
posted by Fizz at 7:17 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm more fascinated by the idea of the "night-time minder" than I am with his actual attempt. Some unnamed person whose job is to come into the room at night and keep snakes away from his bed while he sleeps? How? With what? How do you lead one bed-aimed snake away without riling the other 39? What's the compensation package? What do you do for 8 hours a damn night? It's not like you can sit there reading a book or something. How do you stay alert all night in a dark room? How can Mr. Jones sleep knowing that not only is he surrounded by 40 venomous snakes, but he's relying on a single person, sitting there in the dark, for his safety upon waking? I have trouble sleeping if I can hear the people in the next hotel room over.
posted by penduluum at 7:17 AM on July 8, 2010 [13 favorites]

his wife and young son
Blast! He is ineligible for the Darwin award.
posted by usonian at 7:18 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Whenever I read about someone like this, I like to remind myself that in the wild, this was the sort of person who would have eaten the poison berries first.
posted by stavrogin at 7:19 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Man who looks vaguely serpentine putting his life at risk by living in a house filled with a deadly predator animal for a relatively meaningless record.

This is a clumsy metaphor for something, I just can't figure out what.
posted by codacorolla at 7:20 AM on July 8, 2010

"Two snakes were lying on top of the satellite and another on top of the TV..."

Snaaaaaakes in spaaaaaace!
posted by afx237vi at 7:20 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm disappointed this wasn't a reality show starring the former Monkee, because I was going to make some lame jokes about how maybe they could follow it up with Paris Hilton living with poisonous spiders, Heidi Montag living with rabid bats, or Lindsay Lohan living with Donald Rumsfeld.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:21 AM on July 8, 2010 [7 favorites]

Stay in school, kids. Stay in school.
posted by boo_radley at 7:21 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

David Jones is attempting to live with 40 deadly venemous snakes for as many as 121 days.

Your wording was a bit misleading.
posted by saladin at 7:22 AM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

Once when I was a kid my dad and my mom were working out in garden and I was in the house and my dad called me outside and said, "Kyle, can you move the wheelbarrow into the back yard?"

I didn't think about it at the time, but it was kind of weird that the wheelbarrow was turned upside down on the lawn. I picked it up and lo and behold, there was a perfectly harmless garter snake underneath. This was their idea of a prank. Ha, ha.

I screamed and ran back inside the house and would not come out again for some time. My attitude about snakes hasn't really changed since then, so I think I would be perfect to try this sometime.
posted by kbanas at 7:24 AM on July 8, 2010


posted by kbanas at 7:26 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Your wording was a bit misleading.

Yeah after I hit 'post' I took a good long look at the word 'living.'
posted by shakespeherian at 7:28 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I think I could be doing more with my life and then I see something like this and I'm glad my boredom threshold is so much higher than this guy's.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:28 AM on July 8, 2010

There must be a really good newspaper or magazine article somewhere about these people who 'make up' their own world records. For most folks, a world record is the tallest man or the fastest runner. But Guinness has this group of people who combine random things (e.g., "longest time spent baking pizzas while wearing a banana costume") to try and achieve some level of fame. I'm sure there have been plenty of articles about how Guinness chooses which to recognize, but I'd be curious to read a really good one about the type of people who do this.

It seems like there would be an overlap between this group and the type of people who audition for reality TV—a desire for recognition or fame, but lacking any talent or skill to obtain it "normally" (so to speak). Although I don't know, maybe a guy who spends four months living with poisonous snakes turns out to be a world-class concert pianist.
posted by cribcage at 7:29 AM on July 8, 2010

The things people do for attention when their career dries up. He should just go back on tour with the Monkees.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:35 AM on July 8, 2010

posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:37 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Don't these snakes attack each other ?
posted by Pendragon at 7:39 AM on July 8, 2010

Ridiculous. I learned from higher up in the comments that I should refer to venemous snakes as 'hots' though, so not a waste of time.
posted by variella at 7:50 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

This was their idea of a prank. Ha, ha.

This short film pretty much put me off phobia-driven pranks for life.
posted by Shepherd at 7:52 AM on July 8, 2010 [7 favorites]

Upside: he's on television a couple times for 3 minutes. He'll be sort of proud of himself.
Downside: very real chance of death by snake.

Go Dave. Bask in the glow of your achievement.
posted by davebush at 7:53 AM on July 8, 2010


Honestly, why did I click on that when I'm terrified of snakes? I can't even look at a snake in a pet shop without shrieking and running away. AAAAAIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:53 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ahhh... it makes sense now. This was David Jones' locker.

Also... What the fuck?
posted by ph00dz at 8:00 AM on July 8, 2010

We shouldn't be so quick to judge. My wife's cousin does something almost exactly like this in his basement. The only differences are that they're in special enclosures that look like something built by NASA, he's curator of reptiles, amphibians and fish for a major metropolitan zoo and he's not out of his mind.

Other than that, though, just like this.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:02 AM on July 8, 2010 [5 favorites]

I want to know what he hope to get out of this. I would think that the Guiness world record folks will have nothing to do with this, since they stopped certifying potentially dangerous records some time ago. And what is the formula for calculating the record? The article says the old record was 113 days, but with how many snakes? Does 113 days with 43 snakes equal 121 days with 40 snakes? Is there some formula that takes the size, temperament, and venom potency of the different species into account? And what if two of the snakes mate and have babies (many snakes are ovovivparous)? Does he get extra credit and get to leave early if that happens? I'm not sure he has really thought this thing out very well.

Also, shakesphereian showed admirable restraint by omitting the "batshitinsane" tag.
posted by TedW at 8:03 AM on July 8, 2010

Shepherd, that was pretty great. In a GAAAHHHHHURLLLLLLLGHHHH! kind of way, but still pretty great.
posted by heyho at 8:07 AM on July 8, 2010

Seems unnecessary.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:12 AM on July 8, 2010


I don't like that the cobra he's photographing felt the need to put up its hood. Doesn't that mean it's stressed to the freak-out point? Poor ffnakey.
posted by Neofelis at 8:15 AM on July 8, 2010

Baby vs. Cobra!!!

But seriously, this just sounds stupid.
posted by delmoi at 8:32 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I was in seventh grade we got assigned that bug collection project that you get assigned in seventh grade, the one where you don't do anything for about two months and then in one weekend desperately try to find anything vaguely insectile so you can kill it with a cotton ball and nail polish and not fail out of Earth Science. This was in San Diego. My friend Ben and I got together on a Saturday at his house to work on our projects, which were due on Monday. Ben's family lived in Bonita, which is an unincorporated township in the South Bay and which forty years ago was mostly pastures.

After nosing around his yard for a bit and trying to convince ourselves that several different ants we'd found were actually vastly different kinds of insects from one another-- every normal day of life you see about twenty different creepy crawly things, but whenever you have a bug collection project in seventh grade, all of the creepy crawly things hide and you can't find anything besides ants-- we decided to try our luck in the canyons behind his housing development.

We wandered around for hours in that way that seventh-grade boys do in canyons on a Saturday when it seems like they are supposed to be playing but are in fact doing homework. We moved very slowly. I found a beetle or two, Ben halfheartedly chased a cricket until it disappeared into the scrub. I think we were supposed to come up with thirty different species. We were walking in a dry creekbed, occasionally crouching down to pick through yellow twigs and bits of tumbleweed and other hostile, dead plants, miserable, bored, doomed. I started to go ahead when Ben stopped me.

'Um,' he said. 'Don't go that way.'

'Why?' I said. He pointed.

About four feet in front of me was a massive rattlesnake, eying us suspiciously, half-coiled. It was probably about five feet long, and very big around. Ben and I backed up, and then-- then-- the snake started moving towards us.

Objectively speaking, rattlesnakes do not prey on humans, and the idea that a rattlesnake would purposefully chase a couple of kids, hoping to bite them and kill them, is pretty nonsensical. We were not, however, in an objective frame of mind. The snake moved towards us and we moved away, back up out of the creekbed and onto a loose pile of rocks that had been covered in chain link fencing (presumably to keep them in place during heavy rain).

The snake kept right on moving, and then squeezed its body through one of the fence links and began to disappear into the pile of rocks that we were standing on. This was not good, because not only would the snake be hidden beneath our feet, but this also pointed to the possibility that the pile of rocks we were currently standing on was already home to dozens if not hundreds of rattlesnakes, eager to kill us.

Ben jumped off, and I followed, and when I turned around the snake's tail was still going into the rocks-- about a foot and a half of snake still visible. Ben came to stand beside me, and somehow he'd come up with a tennis ball.

'Watch this,' he said.


Ben threw the tennis ball at the rattlesnake's tail-- it was a clean hit. For the first time I heard the rattles, and they sounded angry. I looked at Ben, this lunatic who I'd thought of as my friend, this suicidal idiot who wanted to get me killed. All I wanted was to finish my bug collection. Hell, I didn't even want to finish my bug collection. There were stickers in my socks and they hurt, and I wanted to be at home not doing homework, not getting killed anonymously by a cold reptile. The snake's rattle went wild, much louder than I'd expected it to be. And Ben had picked up the ricocheted tennis ball.

I think he hit the snake with that ball three times, and although I never talked to him about it, I feel like I can almost articulate why he did it. It was the crappiest, only form of revenge or power we had. The snake, presumably, had no room to turn around in the rock pile, and kept going through the chain link fencing until it had disappeared entirely. The rattle stopped rattling, and then there was no sound again except for the occasional breeze through dried brush.

I looked around. We were about a mile from anything. And everywhere was more desert canyon.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:32 AM on July 8, 2010 [23 favorites]

Also: to people who know snakes;

Is snake venom poisonus to other snakes within the same species? Same family? Or is it mostly venomous to mammals?
posted by codacorolla at 8:34 AM on July 8, 2010

Is snake venom poisonus to other snakes within the same species?

Yes. It's even toxic to the individual snake, and it's not unheard of for a snake to (presumably) accidentally bite itself to death.
posted by Optamystic at 9:01 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

David Blaine Lite
posted by davebush at 9:03 AM on July 8, 2010

Is snake venom poisonus to other snakes within the same species? Same family? Or is it mostly venomous to mammals?

It varies; reportedly the Gaboon Viper that had the world's longest fangs bit itself to death, but this was many years ago and poorly documented. Certainly immunity can be induced by repeated sub-lethal exposure to venom; antivenin (antivenom, if you prefer) is made in this way, using horses to produce the antibodies. This is possible because snake venom is mainly composed of polypeptides (small proteins) to which antibodies readily develop and are effective in neautralizing. Because of the fact it is made with horse serum there is the possiblilty of an allergic reactio to the antivenin itself (especially with repeated doses) that can limit its use. Some people have done this to themselves, as well. Other animals that prey on snakes seem to be immune to their venom (at least of the species they prey on); in the US the King Snake is the best known example of this. More on immunity can be found here (part of a larger article about snake venom in general.

Like variella I too was unfamiliar with the term "hot" for a poisonous reptile, but then I found VenomousReptiles.org, home of the Southeastern Hot Herp Society, so it must be a pretty common practice. I limit myself to catching the occasional Rat or King snake in my yard and leaving the Copperheads and Water Moccasins alone, so I really don't involve myself with the care of venomous snake ever.
posted by TedW at 9:06 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

For some reason, it makes me pretty angry when people do things like this. Like, I want him to die. I feel like he deserves to die. Because what else does he expect? If you stick your head in a lion's mouth, the lion should eat you for being so foolish.
posted by overglow at 9:12 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Speaking of Gaboon vipers, and idiots, here is a story from my home town that pretty much explains why you don't keep hots.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:20 AM on July 8, 2010

David Blaine Lite

David Blaine would do this locked in a 7 foot by 3 foot lucite box buried six feet underground with no food or water for him or the snakes.
posted by rusty at 9:22 AM on July 8, 2010

David Jones is living with 40 deadly venomous snakes for 121 days.

The obituary just writes itself, doesn't it?
posted by zarq at 9:23 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a passage in White Noise about exactly this:
"You're the one who wants to sit in a cage full of deadly snakes. Can you tell me why?"

"Because I'm going for the record," Orest said.

"Why would you want to get killed going for a record?"

"What killed? Who said anything about killed?"

"You'll be surrounded by rare and deadly reptiles."

"They're the best at what they do. I want to be the best at what I do."

"What do you do?"

"I sit in a cage for sixty-seven days. That's what it takes to break the record."

"Do you understand that you are risking death for a couple of lines in a paperback book?"

He looked searchingly at Heinrich, obviously holding the boy responsible for this idiotic line of questioning.

"They will bite you," I went on.

"They won't bite me."

"How do you know?"

"Because I know."

"These are real snakes, Orest. One bite, that's it."

"One bite if they bite. But they won't bite."

"They are real. You are real. People get bitten all the time. The venom is deadly."

"People get bitten. But I won't."

I found myself saying, "You will, you will. These snakes don't know you find death inconceivable. They don't know you're young and strong and you think death applies to everyone but you. They will bite and you will die."

I paused, shamed by the passion of my argument. I was surprised to see him look at me with a certain interest, a certain grudging respect. Perhaps the unbecoming force of my outburst brought home to him the gravity of his task, filled him with intimations of an unwieldy fate.

"They want to bite, they bite," he said. "At least I go right away. These snakes are the best, the quickest. A puff adder bites me, I die in seconds."

"What's your hurry? You're nineteen years old. You'll find hundreds of ways to die that are better than snakes."
(The "they will bite and you will die" line really moved me when I read the book ten years ago, and I've had that page bookmarked ever since.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:29 AM on July 8, 2010 [16 favorites]

It's just like A Hunger Artist. Only with snakes. And without the inherent irony.

There is a lot of potential irony, however.
posted by mosk at 10:29 AM on July 8, 2010

It seems like he isn't in very much danger of losing his life if medical attention reaches him fast enough.

Also, I think your handle should be snakespeherian.
posted by makethemost at 10:35 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Good God, Shepherd. That wrecked my damn day.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:42 AM on July 8, 2010

We had a professional snake guy give a safety talk at our office last year. He had a rattlesnake, a copperhead, a cottonmouth, and a coral snake in glass display cases. They were interesting to look at behind glass but I do not care to meet one hiking. He said the majority of snake bite fatalities in our state for the last several years are professional snake people making a user error.

I didn't even know there was such a thing as a poisonous caterpillar before his lecture.

Also he showed a slide of the swollen hand belonging to a friend of his, whose pet rattlesnake bit him on the finger; his finger swelled up to the size of a cucumber in the subsequent 48 hours even with anti-venom and it was a year before he had full use of the finger again. If you care to do a google search you might find a similar picture. I have seen all that I need to see so I am not going to look for a link.
posted by bukvich at 10:43 AM on July 8, 2010

Hey maybe he should start remembering his combination! To his locker! Davy Jones! See, it's his locker! And the snakes are deadly!
posted by cmoj at 10:59 AM on July 8, 2010

There was a bit on This American Life (it's the prologue on this show) about a professional Australian snake handler getting bit during a show for the narrator's classmates. It's hair-raising stuff.
posted by jquinby at 11:12 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

It seems like there would be an overlap between this group and the type of people who audition for reality TV

"I didn't come here to make friends. I'm here to win. Though the one I've named Alger Hiss is surprisingly affectionate."
posted by naju at 11:19 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

...the 44-year-old British carpenter is currently trying to break a world record by sharing a room for four months with 40 of the world's most venomous snakes.

I'm really had it with "world records" in general. Doing some inane thing more than anyone else is not a legitimate achievement. It's a symptom.
posted by mullacc at 11:21 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Or what cribcage said.
posted by mullacc at 11:22 AM on July 8, 2010

what an ass
posted by Flood at 11:39 AM on July 8, 2010

Another story I will relate, because I just remembered it. Frankly, I'm shocked I forgot. It was one of the signature stories my dad used to tell us when we were kids.

My uncle is now retired, but he used to be a veterinarian in the great state of Virginia. The story (as it was related to me some 20 years ago, so, um, the details may be slightly smudged) goes something like this - apparently someone brought a rattlesnake into the office - a concerned citizen or someone who was riding a bike and rode over it or someone who found it in their back yard or, well, I don't remember. I also don't remember if it was injured or what.

What I do remember is that apparently this situation resolved itself by my uncle hitting the snake on the head with some sort of implement and then flushing it down the toilet.

Apparently a technician went to use the bathroom a short time later and, much to her shock, found the snake unfurling itself from the toilet bowl.

For awhile after that it was very difficult to poop without imaging a large, angry snake poised to insert its teeth into my rectum.

Now that I read this story actually written down, it seems almost completely implausible. He really hit a snake over the head and flushed it down the toilet? Really? But that's the story I was told.

No fucking wonder I hate snakes. Thanks parents.
posted by kbanas at 12:24 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Reminds me of a story by Gerald Durrell I read when I was a kid... Durrell was a naturalist, and he heard that there was a pit filled with gaboon vipers. He wanted some. At night. So of course they lowered him into the pit on a rope, and he picked up a few snakes.

I highly recommend anything by Gerald Durrell, especially the books set in Corfu when he was an animal-crazy kid. (My Family And Other Animals; Birds, Beasts, and Relatives.)
posted by phliar at 3:06 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks. Now whenever I feel frustrated at work or anxious that my frustrating job is going to evaporate in the present fiscal climate, I can repeat to myself, "My work room is not filled with deadly poisonous snakes."
posted by bad grammar at 4:08 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm waiting for the future contenders such as:

one man, one boat, 40 chinchillas

one man, two pockets, 40 crawdads

one man, one cup of sugar, 40 minutes

one man, one kiddie pool, 40 piranhas
posted by Wuggie Norple at 4:49 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

kbanas, that reminds me of when I was a lad... Sitting in an outhouse, doing my business, when a BLACK WIDOW comes running out from under the seat (it had built a pretty much invisible web across the privvy hole...) It took a crack at my nuts but I managed to surge off the commode with my tackle intact. Fortunately, being of a young age, my nuts were not a substantial target - they had none of the dangle factor so fashionable in your present day nuts.... Upshot of it all, and I do not mean this figuratively.... For a good 8 years afterwards I climbed up on the toilet and squatted with my feet on the seat - sitting is for suckers!. I am sure people in the adjoining stalls must have wondered wtf I was up to, but sometimes propriety be damned.
posted by jcworth at 7:58 PM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

my uncle hitting the snake on the head with some sort of implement and then flushing it down the toilet.

When I was seven my older brother told me that at the end of Star Wars, Darth Vader had been sent spiralling off in his TIE-fighter and landed in our toilet.

It didn't make much sense at the time, but damned if I didn't double check for months.
posted by Sparx at 10:57 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

what an ass

Christ, what an asp hole?
posted by naju at 11:10 PM on July 8, 2010

How the hell's he going to sleep? And keep them out of his bed? And not roll over on one?

Someone didn't read the article.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:14 PM on July 8, 2010

I have one question: Why?
posted by theholotrope at 8:42 AM on July 9, 2010

Now, I love snakes, I do. Had them as pets until I met my husband who is ooked out by the very thought of them...ergo I do not keep them. (To be clear, I was in-between snakes when I met him, I didn't abandon any of my snakes.)

That said; as unafraid of snakes as I am; I have no compunction against shooting a rattler or a water moccasin, were I faced with a situation were my safety or other's safety was at risk. Because either breed can be aggressive and deadly.

I can't imagine any good reason to lock myself in a room full of hots. That's just asking for something bad to happen. That man should just leave those poor snakes alone.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 2:27 PM on July 9, 2010

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