Snakes! Sourcing serotonin, sanguine, straightforwardly selfward. So supremely sweet, simply stunning, sensationally spectacular. Snakes secrete superiority so surely; society simply shall celebrate. (Sadly, ‘s’ sounding substitutions shall suffice, so suspend some scrutiny.) Souls stay sore seeing serpents stay solo, separated so soundly. Serendipitously, solving such struggles, some stories surround serpents; sacred sagas, sagely shared, so souls shall strengthen! Sorry, sibilance shall stop suddenly because it’s kinda hard to make any sense with.
But yeah, World Snake Day! I love snakes, they’re so cute, despite being not allowed in New Zealand. Ironic considering NZ is one of the only places without snakes-
We do have snakes, technically! To commemorate our favourite slithery serpents, I shall knowledge y’all on Aotearoa’s four species of native snakes!
So, it turns out there’s actually two different types of sea snakes, Laticauda and Hydrophiinae. So, what’s the difference?
Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait
Laticauda are known as Sea Kraits, which are basically fence sitters who can’t decide whether to be sea snakes or land snakes, so they do a bit of both. Funnily enough, all of New Zealand’s kraits feed on a diet of mainly eels. Because, obviously, kraits have to prove that they are the best aquatic long bois (which of course they are).
Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake
Hydrophiinae meanwhile are also known as “True Sea-Snakes”, because they live mainly in the sea. For example, our Hydrophiinae, the Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake, spends about 87% of its time in water. Unlike most snakes, sea snakes birth live young, rather than laying eggs. The Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake eats mostly fish and cephalopods.
Despite these two subfamilies being similar concepts: snakes that swim, they actually independently evolved from each other. Both species are very poisonous, so if you find one, no touch!
Brown-Lipped Sea Krait
Now to the technicalities of how they are native to Aotearoa. So, because sea snakes live in the sea, they sometimes end up drifting to New Zealand. Because they managed to get here by themselves, without the machinations of humans, it’s considered that they are native to the area. In fact, there’s only ever been 1 Brown-Lipped Sea Krait and 1 Saint Giron’s Sea Krait to ever be recorded in New Zealand, yet they’re considered native. And if you disagree with that, take it up with the Department of Conservation. Unfortunately, this means that in reality it is unlikely you’ll ever have to meet any snakes in New Zealand, but you’ll know, deep in your heart, that we technically have native snakes.
To honour our snakey comrades, I have scrounged up some snakey books for all to read… Plus some on eels, and beautiful serpentine Asian dragons. Unfortunately, few of the fiction books with snakes on the cover have anything to do with slithery friends, just metaphors, bleh.
A snake falls to Earth / Little Badger, Darcie
“Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories. Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. He’s found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake. Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries. And there are some who will kill to keep them apart”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)
Shapeshifters : The Kiesha’ra of the den of shadows / Atwater-Rhodes, Amelia
“Five complete novels. One fascinating world. The NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling author’s tales of forbidden love, bound together in one gorgeous volume. SHAPESHIFTERS tracks the lives of five teenagers who live in a land that has long seen war between the avian and serpiente shapeshifters rage. Although a fragile peace has been established, they face many threats in the following years.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Serpentine / Pon, Cindy
“Although sixteen-year-old Skybright feels lucky to be the handmaid and companion to the daughter of a wealthy family, she is hiding a secret that threatens to destroy her position and her closest relationships.” (Catalogue)
The snakes / Jones, Sadie
“‘I wonder if it hurts them to shed their skins,’ she said. She didn’t feel afraid standing in the darkness, imagining snakes, even with the smell of death in the air. Bea and Dan, recently married, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic. When Alex and Bea’s parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming, and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping. Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape.” (Catalogue)
Medusa / Burton, Jessie
“Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love, betrayal … and destiny itself.” (Catalogue)
Tess of the road / Hartman, Rachel
“Tess Dombegh journeys through the kingdom of Goredd in search of the World Serpents and finds herself along the way”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)
SilverFin : the graphic novel / Higson, Charles
“Young James Bond, while attending boarding school at Eton in the 1930s, must battle against an insane arms dealer who, by using killer eels, is attempting to create a race of indestructible soldiers on the eve of World War II.” (Catalogue)
Into the river / Dawe, Ted
“When Te Arepa Santos is dragged into the river by a giant eel, something happens that will change the course of his whole life. The boy who struggles to the bank is not the same one who plunged in, moments earlier. He has brushed against the spirit world, and there is a price to be paid; an utu to be exacted. Years later, far from the protection of whanau and ancestral land he finds new enemies. This time, with no-one to save him, there is a decision to be made.. he can wait on the bank, or leap forward into the river”–Back cover. Suggested level: secondary.” (Catalogue)
A magic steeped in poison / Lin, Judy I
“For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her-the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu. When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi-masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making-she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life. But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.” — Provided by publisher” (Catalogue)
Song of silver, flame like night / Zhao, Amaelie Wen
“Lan’s last remnant of her mother–and the fallen Hin dynasty of her ancestors–is a symbol seared onto her wrist, which, if the mysterious boy she encounters is to be trusted, may be the key to freeing her people by mastering the ancient, forgotten art ofpractitioning.” (Catalogue)