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Photo article from the Greek Hovel: the adder I killed last night

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 29 August 2023

As it is holiday time bedtime is later here in Greece. We try to get the kids to have an afternoon nap, as is the custom, but usually fail. So, at about 9.30 in pitch dark we returned to the hovel where, as a precaution, I have always kept a light on above both main outside doors.

I headed to the upper door to the kitchen and living area to drop off some things for the fridge. The Mrs and Joshua headed to the lower door while Jaya remained in the car. Suddenly there was a shriek: SNAKE!. I headed down the stairs and stared but could not see it. “Are you blind?” shouted the Mrs and pointed towards what was clearly a snake. slithering abut five foot up the wall and at that point in no particular direction. It was perhaps 5 feeet away from the door. 

I ushered the Mrs and Joshua inside and they slammed the door shut leaving Jaya and myself outside. At least Jaya was in the car. I was looking at the snake. “Grab my axe” I shouted at the Mrs, who did, and opened the door briefly to pass it through before slamming it shut. At this point the snake started heading towards the door and, thus, me. My pal Darren in Canada is rather scornful of what happened next but I think I was jolly brave and doing the right thing. Had the snake bitten Jaya as she passed through the door it would have been very unpleasant. It was a young adder around 20 centimetres long. Young adders have no idea of how much venom to inject and are thus more dangerous, especially to a small girl, than big adders.

Smack! I whacked the snake in the middle of its body with my pruning axe, a tool that is not that much longer than the snake. Sparks flew as metal hit stone and the snake dropped to the floor but it was far from dead. Whack, whack, whack went the axe as the battle intensified. Breaking its body and then turning the axe the other way round to crush its head. It was dead, as you can see below. By morning it had been eaten by other critters.

There will be some folks back in Britain who will bleat on about how adders are protected species and try and report me to the fuzz, etc. Well folks, here in Greece there is no shortage of adders and killing a snake if you see it is regarded as your civic duty not a crime. On the other hamnd there is only one Jaya and it is my duty as a father to protect her. This is my third battle with a Greek snake and it is now 3-0 to me. In one my weapon was a motorbike, twice it has been hand to fang combat. As someone petrified of snakes I always go into battle nervous but, yesterday, fatherly instincts prevailed.

Today, a chap who wes me a day’s labour is up here strimming away the vegetation around the house, pool, water tank and on some of the nearest terraces to create a one less friendly for snakes. And i am putting out an extra canister of repellent. Ido not want another encounter.

In the village of Kambos it has been a long running joke that the chap who is terrified of snakes lives out in the wilds where there are most snakes. Wait till I tell them later today of my heroics!

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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