What If All Snakes Went Extinct?
And now for some breaking news: “All snakes have suddenly disappeared.” If you saw this on the news, what do you think would happen? Well, Voldemort certainly wouldn’t be pleased to hear this, and neither would other Slytherin members. Hogwarts would have 3 houses instead of 4. Parseltongue, which is the language of serpents, would become useless.
Okay, Potterheads, let’s get back to our muggle world. How would it affect us? Let’s look at the bright side first. People with ophidiophobia, which is the fear of snakes, would be so relieved. We can all agree that snakes aren’t exactly everyone’s favorite animal. Some snakes are venomous, and this doesn’t help save their reputation.
It’s often overlooked that these animals usually prefer to retreat when you encounter them. They can become defensive if threatened. But, when left alone, they don’t want to mess with you. Try telling this to people with a phobia, though! Now they can enjoy outdoor activities, such as mountain climbing, like everyone else. And yet, they would have other worries in the absence of these serpents.
The design of the ecosystem works like a clock. Every species has an important role. If one goes down, the others will be affected. Snakes are no exception to this order. They primarily snack on mice or rats. They help to control rodent and other small mammal populations. This is important in terms of preventing the spread of diseases, too.
Think about the spread of the plague of medieval times. Driving out all reptiles could cause a similar problem. Did you know that the bubonic plague was never completely gone? It’s been spotted in modern times, too — for instance, in Madagascar in 2008. So it’s good to have some snakes around to protect us from disease outbreaks.
You see, snakes are excellent hunters. They ambush their prey by using their highly-developed senses to find and track their potential dinner. They’re super mobile, can squeeze through cracks, climb on rock walls, and swim. They can even fly. Well, sort of. “Flying snakes” can’t actually gain altitude, but they can glide. They use the speed of free fall and contortions of their bodies to follow air flows and lift themselves. Yeah, they can catch their prey in numerous ways. If we imagine a world without them, it will lead us to another phobia.
Allow me to introduce you to musophobia. It’s the fear of mice and rats. People with this phobia will have a hard time with all those rats wandering around since there are no snakes to eat them. Not to mention that a single pair of rats can have a million descendants in over a year. Say hello to crop damage. An overpopulation of rodents can lead to a shortage of food and competition for resources. Do I feel the “Hunger Games” vibes?.. Oh, and mice wouldn’t be our only problem. You can add insects to the list, too. Again, without snakes, they’ll throw a party in the streets.
Reptiles also play an important role in the natural environment and food webs as prey. Mongooses, eagles, and hawks would really miss snakes. Eventually, some populations of large mammals would decline, and this could lead to the extinction of some species.
Then, there is medicine. Scientists and researchers would miss these creatures. Snake venom is the key to the development of certain medicines. For example, some diabetes and heart disease medicines have been derived from snake venom. Patients who need them will get affected too.
When we mention snakes and medicine, there’s something else that comes to mind. Botox. Is it really snake venom? Nope, snake venom used in skincare isn’t obtained from the animal itself. It turns out that this ingredient is called “Sn-ayke.” It is a human-made ingredient designed to mimic the effects of temple viper snake venom.
Now, let’s picture what life would really look like without snakes. I’m starting with day one. People don’t immediately notice the absence of these creatures. So, in the first few days, especially in cities, people would have no clue that all snakes are gone. Workers in zoos could start to panic. You would see some news about snakes missing from zoos. Then people in zoo administrations would go through CCTV footage. They would be shocked to see that snakes disappeared into thin air.
After the spread of this news, authorities would probably open special departments to see if they have any snakes left in their country. Then it would turn into a worldwide issue. Some sort of a global alliance would be established to investigate what happened to these reptiles and what could be done about it.
By the time authorities and people understood the severity of the situation, ecosystems would already start to change. People who live in urban environments may not be directly affected in the first few months. Then they would see more mice in their houses and in the streets. Around 500,000 mice live in the network of tunnels of the London Underground, for example. The number may vary, but many rodents live in large cities. These animals would become more visible. You’d open a kitchen cabinet, and oops, you’d see a mouse looking at you from behind a jar of peanut butter.
New career opportunities would arise since the demand to live in a mouse-free environment would skyrocket. Authorities might introduce new taxes to raise money to handle this new situation. After all, they would need to provide people with safe places to live. Of course, it would be not only urban places that would be affected by the absence of snakes. The countryside would have even more problems. Without snakes, the number of pests would increase. These animals would start destroying crops and habitats of other animals, and farmers would be in serious trouble.
Authorities would need to support people living there and find ways to protect the environment, which would be their top priority. Researchers and scientists would have to take a huge responsibility. Maybe they’d create artificial snakes that could be nutritious like real snakes. So that animals like eagles would hunt them and continue to live. What artificial snakes would look like is a mystery — I can’t imagine them. I’ll just leave it to you.
If we flashed forward to 5 years from the first day of the world without snakes, we would face an entirely different world. Maybe we would have a special day for it. The 5th anniversary of the “World Without Snakes.” The changes would be obvious, but by that time, people would have probably got used to living in that different world. Some restaurants would have already made changes to their menus. Goodbye to snake soup.
Then there would be new museums dedicated to snakes. You would be able to read about the story of their evolution and see their fossils. Maybe you’d stop by the museum souvenir shop to buy a snake-shaped pen for your friend. Lastly, we would still be looking for alternatives to snake venom in the field of medicine. I mean, it’s a relief for people who show allergic reactions to snake bites, but these animals are crucial for some studies and medicines. So, researchers would still be busy trying to find alternatives that could replace snake venom.
If we went 200 years ahead in time, we would see a world where people have fully accepted that snakes are gone for good. So much so that younger people would only know that there was an animal named a snake that once lived on this planet. They would get to know this animal from history books and videos.
Coloring books would have a cat or a dog but not a snake. Mythical creatures like Medusa and Shahmaran would become even more mystical and interesting. Oh, and we wouldn’t compare a sneaky person to a snake anymore — there would be a new definition for them.
We’ve survived the Ice Age, meteorites, and many other challenges, so we will probably figure something out. Fingers crossed, that this scenario never gets real, though! Do you have any other version of how events could unfold in a snakeless world?