Friday, August 18, 2006

Best. Snakes on a Plane. Tie-in article. Ever.

File this under the "jobs I'm glad other people do" file:

Jesus Rivas loves the green anaconda. The object of his affection is the biggest snake on earth, which regularly dines on 7-foot caimans (Spanish alligators). Rivas loves them so much that he walks barefoot through the swamps of Venezuela, his native country, until his toes touch one of the serpents lounging in the mud, at which point he wrestles them into submission. Perhaps for obvious reasons, field studies of the anaconda were virtually nonexistent before Rivas began pursuing his herpetological passion in the late '80s. Since then, he has captured more than 900 anacondas in the wild and carefully studied their life cycle -- including the previously undocumented "breeding aggregations," the balls of small male snakes that struggle to impregnate a giant female. Rivas has made several TV documentaries about his charismatic study animal, including "The Land of the Anacondas" with National Geographic. He's now an assistant professor at Somerset Community College in Kentucky.


What does it feel like to be close to anacondas. Are they cuddly?

They're not cuddly. [Laughs.] But they're not slimy, either. They're very muscular. When you grab them, you feel you're grabbing something hugely muscular underneath. The skin is smooth. It's nice to the touch. When you squeeze it, you know you're touching an extremely strong animal. You feel the layers of muscle under your hand. She normally grabs you back and holds you around your arm or leg. When I catch them in the wild they are upset, of course, and we have to wrestle.

Snakes on a Plane is one thing. I want a movie about THIS guy.

To hear Rivas intone about how an anaconda bite doesn't really hurt, whether or not an anaconda could swallow Samuel L. Jackson and why the best cage for a snake is a pillowcase, go here and watch the ad.

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