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Mythology Monday: Snakes drinking Milk

I’ll bet you’ve heard the one about the milk snake. Even so, I will elucidate: It was once thought that milk snakes latched onto the teat of a cow and sucked the udder dry. If milking cows had any issues with their mammary glands, milk snakes were to blame. It’s pretty uncommon to find people that still believe this, but occasionally there are some farmers out there who still blame milk snakes for their (cows’) mastitis issues.

There are a number of tales involving snakes drinking milk. I am not sure why we as humans think everything must drink milk. We see kittens and think “aaaaawwwwwww, give it milk” and end up giving it horrible indigestion and diarrhea (cats shouldn’t drink milk, FYI). Apparently we think snakes, which aren’t even mammals and would have no physiological way to process milk, would find milk super appealing too.

MMMMMMM, DRINK THE MILK.

MMMMMMM, DRINK THE MILK.

In the Indian fairy tale The Snake Prince, the princess must lure all the snakes to her with milk (and sugar) in order to help her husband and find the snake queen.

The princess and her prince

The princess and her sexy snake prince

So this next myth is pretty cute… In Romania, they have grass snakes (which are all over Europe).

Hello, I'm a grass snake.

Hello, I’m a grass snake.

Grass snakes in Romania are also called “house snakes” or “snakes of the home.” They do tend to live under and around houses and show up in people’s shoes etc. It is said they live in the walls of a house and that in the summer you can hear them softly tapping their tails against the wall with the tick of a clock. Never fear though, according to the myth you won’t be infested as there will only be as many snakes in the home as there are souls. It is believed that they bring good luck. Killing the snakes will bring disaster, ruin, and potentially death to the household. AND THEY CAN ONLY BE LURED OUT OF THE WALLS BY A BOWL OF WARM MILK. Adorable.

bowl

I just picture the little lapping sound.

So… snakes don’t drink milk, but historically we really want them to.

 

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