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Interview: A Rare Perspective on Hikers and Interactions with Nature

Japanese pit viper

Interview: A Rare Perspective on Hikers and Interactions with Nature

November 2, 2015 @ 7:50 am
by e.neil
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Editor’s Note: Today I am following up a previous post (A Chance Encounter With A Japanese Pit Viper Ends In…) post with an interview. It runs a bit longer than most of my posts here, so my apologies in advance.

In a previous post you read about an excursion and encounter between a hiker and a Japanese Pit Viper, locally known as “mamushi.” Here’s a bit more on what happened.

CS: Good morning. Thank you for visiting with me today. I’m sure our readers will enjoy hearing from you, an admittedly rare perspective.

JPV / MMS: Oh, no. The pleasure is mine. It’s not often people take the time to sit with, or even near, me and listen.

CS: I can understand.

JPV / MMS: What do you mean by that?

CS: Oh, just that you seem to have a bad rap.

JPV / MMS: You mean my stylish skin?

CS: No, no. Rap. Not wrap. I meant the reputation you guys have.

JPV / MMS: Oh, yes. But to be fair, we do like for people to keep their distance. It’s quite terrifying, you know, when we see these huge, looming figures coming toward us… Stomping and trampling… We really prefer to just quietly go about our way. But when we get surprised, well… Sometimes we just can’t help it. You understand.

CS: Absolutely.

JPV / MMS: Thank you for saying so.

CS: Well, that brings me to a good place to begin. Could you tell me about your experience recently?

JPV / MMS: Certainly. But first, do you mind me moving over to that rock in the sun… it’s getting a bit chilly here in the shade.

CS: Sure. No problem. Let me step back a bit.

JPV / MMS: Thank you.

CS: Yep. I wouldn’t want there to be any accidents.

JPV / MMS: [Now comfortably repositioned in the sun.] Ah, much better. So where should I begin. Ah yes. It was pretty much like what just happened. It was a nice, chilly morning. I happened to be soaking up the sun in a wonderful little niche in some rocks. It’s quite the lovely spot. It faces south, and the morning sun rises above a ridge in the distance and begins heating the rocks early… in only a couple of hours, there is a micro-climate of warmth going on.

CS: So you were in a cozy spot.

JPV / MMS: Yes, that’s right. Warming up. Enjoying the sounds of morning. Lovely. The trickle of the creek in the distance. The twitter of birds. The chirping of insects nearby. The autumn air held a crispness that was just burning off. So I was a bit muddled-headed still from the night before.

CS: Party?

JPV / MMS: Eh? Oh, no. I’m not one to socialize really. It just gets so cold in the nights recently.

CS: Ah, yes. I see. That makes total sense.

JPV / MMS: Well, that’s when I saw some movement across the creek. Mind you, my eyesight isn’t the best these days. Mostly I just saw this huge blob moving along. I see them occasionally. And usually they just continue on their way.

But that day, this one stopped. Then, to my horror, it moved back along the path. Then it crossed the creek. To make it worse, it started getting closer to me. It turned out to be, of all things, a person. I thought for sure I was done for. See, people don’t seem to like us. I’ve heard tell of many of my relatives, friends, and kin meeting their demise on encounters with people. Most of the time, they were simply minding their own business, and a person would happen to come along. The next thing you knew, it was pound, pound, chop, chop, squish, squish.

CS: Sad, really.

JPV / MMS: Should be criminal. Mind you, we do like our space and will defend our territory if needed.

CS: “Don’t Tread On Me.”

JPV / MMS: Exactly. Anyway, let me get back to my story, will you?

So I was certain I was about to go visit the ancestors and take my place among them. This person kept coming closer and closer. But then he stopped in his tracks. He must have spotted me. But it took him a while. Then he shrieked like a little girl and stumbled backward.

CS: I did NOT!

JPV / MMS: Eh? What? You?

CS: Oh, never mind, please continue.

JPV / MMS: Well, he started getting closer. He had this little black rectangle in his hand… And it made this horrendous noise. Then light started flashing out. He must have shined that thing at me five or ten times.

But the oddest thing is that he was actually talking to me. He said “Good morning.” I was quite taken aback. It was nice, you see. He kept his distance. But he also talked to me.

CS: I see. So you didn’t mind?

JPV / MMS: Well, keep in mind I, and most of us actually, prefer to be left alone. If you see us, just stop and go the other way… Slowly, mind you. No sudden movements. That makes us nervous.

CS: Duly noted.

JPV / MMS: Well, this person did just that. He even said “good-bye” and took his leave. Nice fellow.

CS: Thank you.

JPV / MMS: What? Oh, say. Now that I think about it… your voice does sound familiar.

CS: Yeah. It was me.

JPV / MMS: Oh, it was NOT. Seriously? I’m all embarrassed now.

CS: Yes. It was. But let me set the record straight. I did not shriek like a little girl. Did I?

JPV / MMS: Well, actually, it was more of an excited giggle.

CS: Okay. I’ll admit to that.

Listen. Thank you for joining me today. It really was a pleasure to talk to you.

JPV / MMS: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thank you again for taking time to visit with me.

CS: I enjoyed it. Do you have any parting comments or anything you’d like to leave our readers with?

JPV / MMS: Oh, well. Just like I said, try not to sneak up on us. We really hate surprises. When you’re hiking, try to stomp a bit, and make noise. That way, we can feel your vibrations quite far away and we can find a suitable place to get out of the way.

We don’t like to bite… It wastes precious venom that we need for catching our prey… as we don’t have arms or legs, hands or feet… It’s the only tool we have, really.

CS: Thank you for sharing that. It’s a very good point.

JPV / MMS: Two very good points… he he he.


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