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the snake man Cruising down Jalan Benesari on the motorbike one evening, two friends spot a curious sight among the typical sunburned tourists and bored shopkeepers of Kuta: a small, bespectacled man in a floppy Outback hat, walking down the street with three large snakes wrapped around his shoulders and arms. With nowhere to be, the boys pull over to investigate what this snake man is all about...

BALI BELLY: What kind of snake is that?

SNAKE MAN: This is a Burmese python, this one is a ball python, and this one is a sunbeam snake, because when you look at them in the sun it’s like looking into a kaleidoscope.

And you just came out to give the snakes a little exercise, a little fresh air?

No. This is how we raise funds for the Bali Reptile Rescue. We’re only a small group so this helps keep us going. If people hold the snakes or take a photo, we just say, if you enjoyed it please make a donation.

And you’re not worried about him wrapped around your neck like that?

How long have you been working with snakes?

No.

Nearly 40 years. I’ve been working at Bali Reptile Rescue for five.

Do you have names for them?

This is Emily, Beau, and Ivan. My name’s Peter. Do you always walk around with snakes on you, Peter?

No, I work for Bali Reptile Rescue. We got no calls tonight to go and rescue any snakes so I came down here.

What’s the most unusual snake call you’ve ever gone on?

We had a guy in Negara, he had a king cobra in his yard. We told him we’d be an hour before we could get there, so he called his security guard. The security guard brought four rottweilers – guard dogs – and stuck the four dogs on the king

cobra. By the time we got there, the king cobra was dead and so were three guard dogs. If the idiot had just waited it could have all been avoided. Have you ever had a bad experience showing snakes to people on the street? Like someone freaked out and just started running down Legian screaming with the snake on them?

No. Not with a snake on them. Not with a snake on them, okay.

I’m not gonna go around with a snake scaring everyone. That’s not the point.

flaps, right? Are they all over Bali?

This guy eats guinea pigs. These guys eat rats.

No, only in Negara and north of Negara.

What’s your favorite thing about snakes?

These snakes seem to really like you. Do you think if someone attacked you, they would try and protect you?

That a lot of people don’t like ‘em.

Nobody is gonna attack me. I’m walking around with snakes. Yeah, but hypothetically speaking. Like, do the snakes form a bond with you and want to protect you like a dog would protect its master?

Kinda misunderstood?

There’s a lot of miseducation about snakes. We go into schools and teach the kids about ecology and how snakes are a really important part of the local ecology here in Bali. Why do snakes like the rice fields?

Food. That’s where the frogs and rats are.

[long pause] King cobra.

Yeah, they do have a bond – not like a dog, but like a cat. The way a cat, if you feed it, it hangs around. If it wants something it comes over and gives you a cuddle. Otherwise it couldn’t give a flying fuck. Same with a snake.

That’s the one with the

So what do you feed them?

When they grab them

What’s the most dangerous snake in Indonesia?

You know on those TV shows like The Crocodile Hunter where some dude picks a super poisonous snake up by the tail or the head. Can you do that?


Bali Belly Issue 004