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Snakes in Bulgaria


Walking home after buying groceries from the local village shop on a glorious hot sunny September day in Bulgaria we spot a neighbour screaming and throwing rocks at the road.

As we draw closer to the commotion she screams 'Zmea,Zmea' (Snake,Snake).

We stop and watch helplessly to see that an injured small snake is striking angrily at the woman,with two more rocks thrown it is dead.I can sympathise with the fear of the woman as the snake was a few metres from her home and she has young children and obviously thinks of it as a threat to them.

My husband has a huge interest in the snakes of Bulgaria, and after observing the ordeal identifies the snake as the venomous Nose Horned Viper, known in Bulgaria as the "Peperlyanka". He was not amused by the killing, but would not interfere with the woman as he knew that the snake was already badly injured and highly stressed to the point where it would strike in defence at anything or anybody, so by stopping this act of cruelty it could have caused injury or even the death to a passerby.

Others may have tried to stop the woman, but we did not want to think that a child, or an adult old or young or even a dog,could have been killed by this injured,highly venomous snake.

Although hospitals around Bulgaria stock an anti-venom to treat bites from this, Europe`s most venomous snake,getting treatment should not be delayed.

This is an event we have seen several times in our village,previously a group of children killed a larger snake on the roadside with rocks later showing off their triumph in the village centre to the elder locals.Others simply slicing a snake in half with a spade if it is in the way.Yes this is Bulgaria where most of the population are frightened of snakes and oblivious to the types of snakes in the country as when confronted with them, their immediate reaction is to kill them!

Bulgarian people are very set in their cultural ways.To these people animals are either a food source, or pests to them and the land they grow produce on.

We have seen many snakes in Bulgaria slithering across roads,or basking in the sun causing no harm but I know it is wise to look where you are walking if their is long grass and bushes, also stone walls are a favourite hideaway for snakes.

I accept the fact that as with most other animals "If you leave them alone,they will leave you".