A Bowl of Milk Out for Snakes

In an old book on Indian gardening, there was a brief reference to leaving a bowl of milk out for cobras. It seem to be partially religious, partially blackmail. Has anyone (in areas where there are snakes) done this or heard anything about this?
Can all snakes drink milk?
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Snakes are carnivores that eat by swallowing their prey whole. They are unable to drink by suction. The milk probably attracts snakes indirectly by attracting their prey.
BTW, there are no vegetarian snakes either.

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appears to be involved in the initial stages of the process. I wouldn't put it past the average dehydrated snake to drink fresh milk if that was all that was available. And I wouldn't be surprised if some acquired a taste for it.

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Mark Herbert said:
<< > BTW, there are no vegetarian snakes either.

Don't know where you learned about gardening, and I hate to break it too you, but eggs are not vegetables. At least I have never been able to grow them.
Dave http://members.tripod.com/~VideoDave
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (DavesVideo) wrote:

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Some what, some vegetarian snakes??? Maybe it was carelessly written!!!
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Are you saying you've never heard of egg plants? HeHe! ;-)
The question is whether snakes will eat the fruit of the egg plant?

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Cereus-validu said:
<< The question is whether snakes will eat the fruit of the egg plant? >>
Well. if they ate both eggs and egg plant, they might be considered to be ova vegetarian, provided there was no live prey in their diet. But if they really don't eat any form of vegetation we can consider them to be carnivores.
To tell the truth, I have had almost as much difficulty growing egg plants as I had with those eggs.
Dave http://members.tripod.com/~VideoDave
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I don't think the snakes around here are very religious.
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Vox Humana wrote:

Only Brass snakes are religious. This is what Moses used to cure illness.
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Paul E. Lehmann wrote:

Come to think of it further, perhaps this is why Moses led his people to the land of "Milk and Honey". He could encourage all the snakes to come to drink the milk and turn them to brass; tell people to look at the brass snakes and cure their illness(s). As for the Honey - well, they could make mead from this and if looking at the brass snakes did not cure them - they could drink the mead and not care - ha ha ha.
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Nehushtan, "Brazen Serpentess," was a Serpent-goddess established by Moses. In the autumn of the last year in the wilderness, the Israelites suffered from a plague of "fiery serpents" whose bite was deadly. Moses made a serpent of brass, mounted it on a pole, and all who gazed upon Nehushtan were cured of snake-poison [Nm 21:6-9].
Although initially the adoration of Nehushtan was to obtain protection from deadly serpents sent by Yahweh, in later times it was said that serpents were sent to slay those who worshipped serpents [Wisdom of Solomon 11:15; 15:18; 16:3-5; Sirach 12:13]. This belated explanation was required because otherwise one had to admit there were more gods than Yahweh among the Israelites. Nevertheless many continued to praise the Serpentess as a token of salvation [Wis Sol 16:6, 10] whose healing capacity was an oracle of god [16:11].
Philo of Alexandria finds a happy medium in suggesting that Nehushtan the serpent of temperateness was an enemy of the Serpent of Eden who encouraged hedonism [Legum Allegoriae II:19, 25]. This supposes a female serpent who takes precedence over the male serpent. "There is no poison worse than snake's poison, and no wrath worse than a woman's wrath" [Sirach 25:15] means that the male serpent of Eden is subdued by the wrathfulness of the female serpent of Moses.
Healing Serpent-goddesses were common among Mediterranean races, and are still worshipped in modern Bengal, encountered repeatedly in the Vedas. She or her type is known by many names, including: Anantasira, "Head of Eternity," queen of the Nagas (Cobras) who dwelt in a jeweled palace surrounded by pleasure gardens; Madhavi, "Honey-like," an incarnation of Laksmi having been born with pubis like a cobra's hood; Sarpamukhi the Mother of Serpent Illumination; Ulupi the Nagini (Cobra-princess) who came from the netherworld to become the bride of the mortal prince Arjuna, because of whom cobras are to this day generous with humanity; Vasukuki a form of Laksmi who forms the cobra-headed throne of Vishnu; Neta, Who Sees the Path, a nagini who travels as the constant companion to the goddess Manasa; & many similar.
As the Mother of Serpents, Nehushtan's children who plagued the Hebrews were called muppim, "poisonous serpents" or "children of Mup"; only by propitiating the Mother were the muppim rendered harmless. In Jewish myth, they are also called the ivvim, the snake-children of the Daughters of Cain, but whose name by a close pun means "Children of Eve." Muppim continued long to be worshipped by the Benjamites, descended as they were from the divining & teraphim-worshipping Rachel, & who were especially influenced by methods of worship encountered in Egypt where long dwelt Joseph & so many of his sons (including one named Muppim).
Nahash is the name Genesis uses for Eve's serpent [Gn 3:1], and Nahash may be considered the consort of Nehushtan, equivalent of the two Leviathans or of Samael and Lilith. Nahash in addition to "serpent" means "divination," or anything learned by experience. In zoharic legend, the demon Nahash is the consort of the demoness Epheh (Adder), who must be regarded a form of Nehushtan or another name for the same demoness [Zohar I:18a].
The serpent-entwined pole or caduceus was a symbol of the Maenads or Bacchantes, as well as of numerous healing gods and goddesses, including Maia's son Hermes and Mary's son Jesus [Jn 3:14]. It is even today used as a symbol of the medical profession, despite having become intertwined with the mythology of the serpent in the tree of Eden.
Worship of this Serpent-goddess was not suppressed until the time of King Hezekiah and his queenmother Abi, for Moses had personally directed the reverence of this Goddess so that it took many generations to undermine Her worship. Hezekiah associated Nehushtan with the worship of Asherah [2 Ki 18:4]. Centuries later, though the worship of Nehusthan would never have been admitted, it was nevertheless considered permissible to perform snake-charming on the Sabbath, to render serpents tame and harmless, and to ward against leprosy [Babylonian Talmud: Sanhedrin 101a].
-paghat the ratgirl loves the benificent Serpent-mother
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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from snipped-for-privacy@gcfn.org (Cynthia Donahey) contains these words:

In Ireland, where there are no snakes, they used to leave a bowl of milk outside for the pixies. The pixies were operating a blackmail racket; no milk meant big trouble.
Janet.
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So you like to drink milk from a bowl, is that what you're saying Janet?
(Cynthia Donahey) contains these words:

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Donahey) wrote:

A North American myth is that the milksnake is so-named because it attaches itself to cows' udders & suckles milk. Dairymen would leave milk out for the milksnakes to keep them from bothering the cattle, & to encourage them to stick around & eat the mice in the barn. In reality of course snakes would become ill if they had no access to water & were forced to resort to drinking bowls of milk. I've never seen a satisfactory explanation for how this more-idiotic-than-average myth got started, but it's a very old belief.
It's a remarkable coincidence that this absurd belief exists also in India and Bengal. Because the cobra is sacred to the goddesses Sitala, Mariamme, and Kali, & to the god Vishnu, offerings of milk, bananas, & flowers (including giant Jack-in-the-Pulpits because they look like cobras) are left at shrines or in back yards for cobras. Milk is left out in bowls or poured down holes thought to be inhabited by snakes around temples & in private gardens, hoping snakes will drink it & bring the devottee good luck. On the festival of Nag Panchmai, cobras are captured & deprived of water so that they are forced to drink milk & this is supposed to be to be so pleasing to the snakes that they won't bite people, or if they do the venom won't kill, & the snakes will even intervene with the Goddess to keep anyone form getting diseases or the plague.
As with religion in the west, religion is often at least 90% a business scam, & many small-time business crooks provide dehydrated snakes to willing buyers who want to give them milk. The majority of these cobras never recover because so abused before milk is even offered, then they get sick for having nothing to drink but milk. If Vishnu or Sitala happen actually to exist, I'd think they'd smite such worshippers with all manner of plagues for being so gawadamn stupid, since the ill health of these snakes is not difficult to see. But there are a few activists in India trying to stop this widespread practice, because they believe the snakes really are sacred & such well-intended but ultimately murderous treatment of cobras should stop. Superstition, alas, is impervious to education, & so deeply incorporated into the daily life & regional economy that it will never cease.
Here's a page about the Nag Panchami festival: http://www.aryabhatt.com/fast_fair_festival/Festivals/Nag%20Panchami.htm
(Funny that this page about the Cobra Festival gets saddled with badly targetted instant-ads at the bottom of the page, which on my visit just now consisted of two ads for the same phoney snake-repellant, exactly the opposite of what worshippers at the Nag Panchami festival would be seeking. Happily the products are 100% bogus anyway so no snake would ever be discouraged.
(Snake-Away's active ingredients are napthalene (same as mothballs, but at delute levels supposedly not so toxic for pets, kids, & other animals) & suphur. The manufacturer makes all sorts of crazy claims for this useless crap including that it is "university tested and proven" with ability to repell 100% of garter snakes, 83% of rattlesnakes, & varying percentages of other snakes -- the percentages come right out of the manufacturer's ass. The apparently imaginary "univerisity" citation is always unspecific so cannot be tracked down & by "university tested" they apparently mean the "inventor" of the useless product proving his own invention worked, though no independent study has been able to come to the same manifestly irreproducible results. The inventor of the completely disproven product is herpetologist Harvey Lillywhite who of course did not publish this so-called study in any peer-reviewed journal nor even in one of the dubious non-peer-reviewed journals which will occasionally accept faux research on a vanity-press basis.
(No one at the University of Florida is aware of any this alleged "ten year study" being conducted there, though if the manufacturer is believable at all he may have trumped up a non-scientific report for the EPA of unpublished, un-peer-reviewed, unsubstatiated "findings" later shown in published & authentically independent data to have been false. Yet the manufacturer has managed to get ad-hype published in amateur herpetological bulletins & reprinted by vendor clients all over the web.
(The manufacturer very carefully avoids promoting any of the several independent studies of their product because ACTUAL independent research conducted by Marsh, 1993; McCoid et al, 1991 & 1993; & Ferraro 1995 across-the-board concluded "Dr T's Snake-Away was not successful in repelling snakes" & was "totally ineffective in repelling brown tree snakes" It was tested on garter snakes, gopher snakes, & rattlesnakes & had no repellant value, neither did the active ingredients used separately effect snake behavior.
(If Lillywhite's unpublished & unavailable article were available we could probably see what was wrong with the protocol that resulted in irreproducible results, or we might even find that the rephrasing manufacturer just lied, but from multiple studies since Lillywhite's alleged findings Snake-a-way has been very definitivelyh proven to be worthless. Yet Dr T representatives frequently show up wherever they are condemned to post all their usual enormous fat lies & misrepresentations & pseudoscientific jabberings about mucking up snakes' sense of smell in the Jacobson organ, all contrary to reality.)
-paghat the ratgirl
--
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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Being a snake lover, I thought this might be of interest to you . It was a response posted to rec.gardens newsgroup Paul
paghat wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@netscape.net (paghat) wrote:
-snip-

But it becomes interesting to me because now we have reports from 3 continents that there is a benefit to putting out bowls of milk.
What might be the real [or imagined?] reason that some ancients thought would be an easier sell as a way to appease Cobras, Pixies, or Milk-snakes?
Is there any truth to this remedy or is it another way to get folks to waste milk? I never had an luck with it myself, but a mid-19th century almanac suggested leaving a bowl of milk with pepper in it on the kitchen counter as a way to kill houseflies.
Jim
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I would guess it stems from some archaic animist belief ... if you take the snake as deity of death, then what better way to neutralize it than to appease it with some token of life?
Of course there could also be some practical applications as well. Some site said that the Nag Panchami occurs sometime in August (seems to be a solar calendar although I don't know why they mean by 'bright half of Shravan'), which right would be smack in the middle of the rainy season. I would have thought if you wanted to drug a snake with milk, you'd do it in the dry season when they should be thirsty, but perhaps they are estivating during that time. Also, nobody said what kind of milk ... cow milk, goat milk ... colostrum or what. Such differentiation should have been common knowledge to practitioners, and not so obvious to observers, but it may not make a difference at all, esp. if the effect is merely symbolic.
In related news, they are now using grape extracts to keep away birds at some major airports.
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