I initially stated my intention to boycott Discovery Channel’s “Eaten Alive”. After various conversations, I decided it would bear watching simply so I knew how to discuss it with non-herpers. Nothing about the program surprised me. It was basically finding Bigfoot with snakes. I only hope that, as a community, we can overcome the damage done.
Paul Rosolie’s stated intent was a conservation message addressing the massive loss of the rain forest. Unfortunately, the burning and cutting of the rain forest filled approximately 2 minutes of a 2 hour program. Conservation message missed! While they did capture a decent image of the density and dangers of the Amazon, the majority of the 2 hours was spent chasing a 25ft+ “monster” snake that never graced them with any footage. They didn’t take the time to investigate the creatures they passed on the way in, they simply pointed out how deadly each one is and went on. Fer-de-Lance, Black Piranha, Black Caiman, and a few spider species were shown quickly and forgotten.
They did capture a 12 footer on the trip in, but really didn’t tell us anything informative. They captured camera trap images of their supposed 25 footer, but nothing that would convince me of the actual size of the animal. The snake trap the placed to try and capture an anaconda was laughable at best. A homemade log cage is something we’ve seen on “Mountain Monsters” before and has no way to actually contain a snake.
The 19 foot snake they got footage of appears, in my opinion, to have been staged. They showed us 45 mins of them trekking through thick jungle, being forced to cross caiman infested lakes in inflatable boats only to have sturdy wooden vessels appear for this one scene and then fade back into the jungle. If this area was accessible by real boats, why the trek through the jungle? The fact that this snake was within 1 foot and 20 pounds of the captive anaconda they eventually used for their stunt leads me to believe they were probably the same animal.
With both animals that were actually captured, I did notice that neither attempted to strike. When pounced on by 10 adult humans, the snakes natural reaction was flight instead of fight. This may be the only positive to come from this program, and it wasn’t even mentioned. Name 1 single mammal that could be treated in this manner and not attempt to defend itself? Even a family dog would probably bite somebody if cornered by a group of aggressive people.
The stock picture of the snake they used to show “man-eating” behavior was an entirely different species, a reticulated python. And it was stated that the animal never managed to clear the unarmored man’s shoulders. The footage of the large snake regurgitating an antelope was circulating about a year ago. I believe that snake was an African Rock Python. The strike footage used during the initial sequence contained several species other than anacondas, I saw a mix of pythons and boas. The only footage we saw of the monster was CGI. All in all, the production was shocking for the non-herper and laughable to those that know a little.
Now to the part that seems to have pissed off the general public, the hype. All of us in the herp community knew there was no chance of an adult human being consumed by a snake. True, anacondas and large pythons can ingest prey as large as a small adult, said prey would not have shoulders. This is probably the one thing differentiating humans from things snakes see as prey. Add to this fact the bulky, B-movie, body armor and it was physically impossible to be ingested. We all know snakes eat by biting into prey and slowly working it’s jaws up over it’s meal. No snake possesses teeth capable of grasping carbon fiber, therefore, the attempt was failed before it started.The precautions against the constriction doomed this stunt. They basically attempted to have this animal attempt to swallow a garbage can. The body armor was so bulky and unwieldy that Paul rejected half of it.
Watching the actual stunt, it appeared to me that the snake wanted nothing to do with a man in a bad robot costume. He basically had to wrestle with the animal until it finally decided to defend itself. It, again, chose flight over fight, but was given no choice. The footage was grainy, blurry and most of the close-ups could just as easily been staged for all we know. Yes they showed a shot of the snake supposedly attempting to bite the helmet. I believe it probably could have ingested something the size of the helmet, if it could have actually fixed it’s teeth into it. And we’re right back to the carbon fiber.
The attempt to pass this off as science failed when they chose to only place one pressure sensor and hope the snake was obliging enough to squeeze right there. If science had been their actual goal, they would have been better served by choosing an actual prey item and equipping it with multiple sensors and cameras. They might have actually collected some actual data if they had done this correctly.
In all, this was an over-hyped, under done attempt to grab ratings. It rates right up there with Mountain Monsters, Finding Bigfoot and Destination Truth. They missed it’s stated goal of conservation. They bypassed any chance of educational content. And, according to the general public, they failed to deliver on showing a man getting eaten. I feel this program served no purpose but making Discovery money.
Now on to other news, for those of you still with me. Felita and I have fallen victim to the courts bias against large snakes. Our step-son, who is currently living with us, is in the middle of a custody battle for his two daughters. At there most recent court appearance, their grandfather’s girlfriend, who is also suing for custody, voiced her concern that we own “big yellow snakes”, our 3 Burmese pythons. I wasn’t present to debate the risk of these animals and have been told the judge wasn’t concerned with the fact we have them in locked enclosures. He has ordered that, before our granddaughters can reside with us, we have to figure out how to move the snakes out of our home. Luckily, we have an outbuilding we have been working on moving most of our collection to already. We feel that, in the event of an emergency caused by severe weather, a single building will be easier to heat than having our animals spread throughout our house. I plan on attending any future court dates to present the statistics showing the comparative risks of large constrictors vs. common family pets and farm animals.
Along with this topic, we lost one of our Burms this passed week. For some reason, Samson had been fasting over the last year. We would offer but he showed no interest in eating more often than not. He had lost incredible weight and was really worrying us. He had recently began eating again and we were actually hopeful we could nurse him back to health. Then he was hit with a severe mite infestation. We had been actively fighting that and actually appeared to be about to complete his treatment. I assume the combined stress of the weight loss and mites was just more than his system could handle. This was a severe blow for us, but at least we know he is not suffering anymore.
This is getting rather wordy so I will discuss legal issues in a later blog. Until next time, Happy Herping.