Snake Charming in Morocco
What do you think of when you hear the words “snake charming” or “snake charmer”? I think exotic, strange, scary, unusual…freaky? But I also feel a little excited about seeing something so different! Kids feel the same way. So, when we found ourselves headed to Morocco I was hoping for a peek at a snake charmer and was thrilled when we encountered one.
I had so many questions about the practice. First of all – why? Then – how? And one more time – why? LOL!
Snake charming now:
Snake charming is a performance of someone who pretends to hypnotize a snake and handles it in what looks like a dangerous fashion – perhaps even kissing it or nearly kissing it.
Music is often a part of the act, though a snake cannot hear the music. The snake can sense sound with their tongue.
The snake isn’t actually dancing. The snakes ‘dance’ is its reaction to the threat of the handler.
Snake charming in the Bible:
Snake charming in some fashion goes way, way back. It is even mentioned in the bible: Psalm 58: 3-5 “The wicked turn aside from birth…(have) venom like a snake that does not …respond to… a skilled snake charmer.”
Snake charmers were also early healers and as you might expect, they were especially called upon to treat snake bites.
Snake charmers often wear turbans and carry around boxes or wicker baskets of snakes and perform for tips.
The snakes are trained to some degree, but more often the mouth is sewed shut with just a small hole left open for the tongue to flicker in and out. Sometimes, the snakes are surgically defanged, though fangs often regrow, but not always.
This is a dangerous activity! Read here about a snake handler who died from a bite from the snake he was handling.
Aside from money from performances, sometimes snake charmers are also called upon to rid houses of unwanted snake visitors. That makes sense because snake charmers are surely not afraid of snakes. I, on the other hand, would have to sell a house and move if we ever found a snake in it!
This interesting profession is most often inherited and passed down through generations.
Snake charming: our experience in Tangiers, Morocco
We saw a snake charmer during our visit to Morocco. I was quite intrigued, but even though the handler had a death grip on the snake right behind the head we did not encourage the kids to get too close. I am totally creeped out by reptiles of any sort so this was a really brave moment for me!
Snake charming: Some disagree with the practice.
Some do not agree with having animals in shows for any reason. Peta is a group anxious to stop the practice because it is not a natural situation for the animal – especially those surgically changed.
On the other hand, there are those who think that the only good snake is a dead snake! I’m personally ok with snakes as I know the earth would be overrun with rodents (that I don’t like either) without them so as long as I don’t come into contact with them I’m ok. LOL!
We even have a non-poisonous snake near our house that we call our ‘guard snake’. We allow him to live here (and not call the local snake charmer to have him removed) because he is terrified of us and leaves whenever we make noise. I like to think Phil, (Yes, we named him.) is keeping us safe from mice and other creepy things.
What are your thoughts on snakes and snake charming?
Have you enjoyed a reptile show? Braved a snake on your shoulder? Would you if you had the chance?
We loved Morocco so much and can’t wait to get back. If Morocco is in your future you’ll love these related posts.
Moroccan Pancakes – What is Breakfast like?
Camel Riding Fun in Morocco with KIDS
Buying a Rug – All you Need to Know
Natalie, The Educational Tourist
In Sydney Australia we have a snake show in La Parouse every Sunday. Here the snakes are not harmed or made to do tricks they are simply shown off to onlookers and the handler tells us about the snakes, how to identify them and how to handle one if we ever found one. I think this is much more humane. I’d still be interested to see a show in Morocco.