Travel Reference
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every day and at the same hour to be 'milked'. I have also heard of snakes that are supposed
tosuckwomen'smilkwhilsttheyareasleep, doingitsogentlythattheyneverwakeup.Since
I returned to Buenos Aires a similar story was published in the newspapers, and this case is
claimed to have happened recently in the northern section of Argentina.
Should a man be bitten and have no remedy handy, the powder out of a cartridge can save
him if he acts quickly. He has to cut a piece of flesh out where he was bitten, and then im-
mediately pour the gunpowder into the wound and light it. Thus he will burn out the affected
place and prevent the poison from spreading into the blood. Again some people use corrosive
sublimate which they sprinkle on the ground or on their trouser-legs, believing that the smell
of this keeps snakes away. In this connection I might remark that it is a well-known fact that
snakes dislike any strong smell.
Among the gauchos of the northern parts of Argentina there is an old belief that no snake
will ever bite deer and that the strong smell of the latter frightens them away, and for this
reason some men who must sleep out in the open often carry a piece of untanned deer-hide
with them, firmly believing that this will keep snakes at a distance whilst they are asleep. Old
gauchos have told me that if a deer finds a snake it will move around its enemy in a circle,
all the time letting a fine thread of saliva dribble from its mouth. According to these people,
the snake will not crawl over this saliva, and thus shut in a small circle will wriggle in terrible
fury and very soon die. I do not know how much truth there is in this, but the very fact that
intelligent people have told me identical stories makes me think it would be worth while for
some man of science to make an investigation.
Some of the domestic cats in Panama are excellent snake-killers. Once I was resting in a
little hut when I was called outside. I witnessed a thrilling and interesting fight between a cat
and a fair-sized snake. For some time the cat looked at the reptile without moving whilst the
latter was curled up in a position to strike, flashing out its forked tongue. Suddenly the cat
began to jump around it, pawing with the speed of lightning. After some time the snake be-
came stupefied and, before I knew what had happened, pussy had the wriggler by the neck, if
a snake has such a thing, and made off into the bush.
On another occasion I saw a cat steal a snake's eggs. The cunning feline robber did this by
up and carried away one of the oval jelly-like eggs, repeating this performance until the nest
was empty.
In Panama I heard that if a cat is bitten it will eat the snake's gall, and thus save itself.
Many people there believe this to be a cure for human beings, and I have seen them keep the
gall-bladders in alcohol. If anybody is bitten they rub the wound with this snake gall and then
swallow it, and, according to them, with excellent results.
In these parts a jungle-man told me of another cure he believes in. He said that if a snake
bites a person he must walk backwards without looking where he is going. Of the first plant
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