Snakehunting the Oscars

If you’re like me, I’m sorry.  But if you’re like me you’re always snake hunting.  You judge the distance between the dumpster and the woods behind your local Target…on road trips, you keep a running ticker in your mind, evaluating the time of day, the temp., and the last time it rained as you look for downed street signs and decaying barns, nodding to whatever the driver has to say about the Phillies or her new problem at work.  You notice snakeskin bags and boots, lizardskin wristwatch straps and business card cases.  You open magazines and look for snakes.  You can find them easily most months in Vanity Fair (e.g., page 9,  March 2009,, and the Sunday New York Times Magazine (page 53,  Feb. 15, 2009 Marc Jacobs –but also look for the reptilian bits this week on the shelves of Yves Saint Laurent, pp. 44-45 (see star tortoise shell?))–really, there is no out of season when it comes to reptiles killed for fashion. 

If you’re like me you try to ID whatever you find from the snatch of skin.  (The correct answer is almost always reticulated python.)  It’s The Year of the Python.   Last year I was invited to where all those python skin fashions begin.  This year, while watching the Oscars you may see a python or two walking the red carpet, or maybe a monitor lizard (on a watch strap) shaking hands with a star, giving you a chance to flip some tin without ever leaving your sofa.  Try it.  You’ll be amazed how much reptile is all around you.

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5 Responses to “Snakehunting the Oscars”

  1. Craig Says:

    Jesus, that bag blog is despicable. Do you know of any resources for identifying reptile skin products?

  2. Bryan Christy Says:

    Hi Craig. Thanks for your comment. You can google for ‘snakeskin’ or ‘python’ and ‘fashion’ or ‘designer’ and find alot of the major sellers. Thanks for your post. Bryan

  3. Craig Says:

    But how can you tell which species the skin comes from without just going off what the seller indicates? Does it just take experience?

  4. Jeff Boundy Says:

    The tough part will be getting Rene Zelwiger to come by your apartment, tougher yet to get her to lay down while you scan for any reptile products she’s wearing.

    Once you get her to quit squirming you can usually ID large-scaled snakes as some of the dorsal pattern tends to remain (retics, dhamans, puff-faced water snakes are common). If the scales are very small (Please Rene, you really need to quit struggling) use a hand lens to determine if they overlap (snake) or not (monitor). If they overlap and have a tiny trident on the trailing edge they are acrochordids (elephants trunk, file snakes or whatever they’re called).

    Imagine how impressed Rene will be when you announce that her shoes are Homalopsis buccata (“No, they’re Gucci you idiot, now untie me”), and that you know of a real cool place at the end of a remote road where people dump old appliances.

  5. Craig Biegler Says:

    Thanks for the info!