Snakes and People
People have various attitudes about snakes, often negative, but what do snakes think of people?
Racers are slender and move swiftly in esses like the waves of a whip. They are among the smartest of snakes and have assiduously studied human behavior concluding that we're nothing but shits to be avoided. They are alert and they are fast, and it's very difficult for people to get close to them if there's any kind of cover at all.
Coachwhips and whipsnakes are even more slender than racers and have a habit of raising the front part of their body high off the ground to get a better perspective on things when hunting lizards or avoiding dangerous creatures. They have about as high a regard for people as racers do.
Pit Vipers, such as rattlesnakes and copperheads, are heavy-bodied and cannot crawl very fast. They tend to stay in a coil when ambushing prey or just relaxing because they feel safer that way. If they have to make an emergency escape, they do it very clumsily with a series of flops. They're not very smart, but they are smart enough to see that people are very dangerous, so they avoid them when possible.
Gartersnakes and ribbonsnakes are slender fish and frog eaters. They are attractive small snakes that attract the attention of people trying to catch them and keep them as pets. They, therefore, would risk escaping into a pond full of voracious snapping turtles over keeping the company of people. If handled too roughly or held tightly, they'll often respond by bitting and emitting musk.
Watersnakes are fisheaters like gartersnakes but larger and much more prone to bite and emit prodigious quantities of musk when handled. They are usually not kept as pets because of this behavior, which the watersnakes consider to be a victory. They generally have a lower opinion of people than even the gartersnakes and racers, mostly gained by experience.
Kingsnakes and ratsnakes are constrictors, that is they kill their prey by constricting them. Consequently, when in a tree or bush or being held, they wrap part of their body around the branch or hand to keep from falling. This behavior has been misinterpreted by keepers to mean that the snake likes being handled. The snake, however, is simply mistaking the handler for a tree, which it greatly prefers over people, agreeing with the racers that people generally are shits to be avoided.
Coral snakes are red like stop signs to advertise danger so people and other animals will leave them alone. Animals other than people usually heed the warning. To avoid people they will crawl away fairly rapidly, but if caught they will demonstrate their lack of fondness for people with a venomous bite.
For the most part, snakes have a great distaste for people and avoid them, one of the few exceptions having been Grace Olive Wiley, and she eventually was killed by a cobra.
Grace Olive Wiley handling a pet rattlesnake.