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March 8, 2009

Swimming with a Komodo dragon — Snakemaster Austin Stevens

For no particular reason I happened to have the Science Channel HD on this morning when I began my day on the treadmill.

I was just glancing up at the soundless screen every now and then until I saw the most fantastic large bright yellow snake, at which time I muted the boom box and de-muted the TV.

Turns out it's today's screening of nine hour-long past episodes (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET) of "Austin StevensSnakemaster."

I'd never heard of him before but I must say I find him great company as I've been watching the past several hours.

Just now he was taking a dip in some sea en route to the islands of giant Komodo dragons to view them up close and personal, when all of a sudden while underwater he looked up and saw a massive shadow above him, swimming in the same direction.

He decided to follow it and they both sprinted for shore, at which time Stevens dropped to his hands and knees, exhausted, while the dragon raced off down the beach to an ongoing feast, where a crowd of Komodos was already well into devouring a dead animal they'd come across.

Austin said the dragons' sense of smell is so good that the swimming dragon most likely smelled the carrion from another island, then simply plunged into the water to get to the party.

Great stuff.

Science Channel HD is 217 on ComCast Cable, 284 on DirecTV.

Up top: His encounter with a Giant King Cobra, at the time the largest venemous snake he'd ever seen.

March 8, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Bev, I had no idea you were so bloodthirsty dear (but I like it). Joe: I think there is something wrong with me. I was hoping the bloody snake would have bitten Mr. Austin Stevens about 10 seconds into this video. Can't fathom watching this man for 9 hours. He's terribly annoying.

Posted by: Miles | Mar 9, 2009 10:00:26 AM

I love how the cobra is not going to take any shit off of anybody -- and it's not just an act, either, all that neck-flaring and hissing. It's always good to be able to back up your threats. Magnificent! I see why ancient Egyptians put cobras on their hats and stuff.

It's worth reading that whole Wikipedia article on the Komodos -- they elicit the "eew" and "oh my god" factor like few other animals do, like how their teeth are covered with gingival tissue that bleeds when they chomp into carrion, making their horrifically bacteria-laden saliva appear bloody all the time; and how they can swallow goats and things whole and have to breathe through a little tube under the tongue while they're busy doing that because it takes forever and otherwise they'd suffocate; and how sometimes to help them push their whole-swallowed meal down their throats they will ram head-first into a tree to speed things up; and things even more incredible.

Here's a very famous Bob and Ray bit about an "interview" with a Komodo dragon expert (audio only):


Posted by: Flautist | Mar 8, 2009 4:56:04 PM

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