Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Busting Irish Myths: #4: Snakes
What is true is that Ireland doesn't have a snake on it.
St. Patrick didn't drive all the snakes into the sea during a 40-day fast as reported, because there were none to drive out. In ancient times (prior to 10,000 years ago) Ireland was too cold for snakes to survive there. In the past 10,000 years, the fact that Ireland is surrounded completely by water keeps the snakes from migrating to the Emerald Isle from neighboring countries. And the Irish government has very strict regulations about importing snakes - they are simply not allowed, as pets or otherwise. If any escaped and multiplied, the ecosystem could not support it and could be dramatically effected, according to scientists.
Ireland is one of only a few places on earth in which snakes do not exist. Other places are: New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland and Antarctica.
When I visited Ireland this year, I found it fascinating that there were no bugs. I am sure there are some somewhere - but in the trips I've made there, I have only seen the smallest of spiders and no beetles, cockroaches, or other insects that are common in the southern United States (and elsewhere.) Again, it may remain too cold for most insects to flourish, and being an island, it is unlikely for insects from neighboring areas to colonize there, unless they are unwittingly brought in with travelers.
The slow worm is protected in the United Kingdom, which includes Northern Ireland.