The next time you’re down your local and you spy what appears to be a half-cut, tired and emotional snake propping up the bar, don’t be so quick to judge the snake’s apparent lack of alcoholic stamina.
For although that python might be displaying all the characteristics of a drunk – staring into space, incoherence, a lifeless torpor – they might not actually be ‘refreshed’. They could, in fact, be suffering from mad snake disease, a fatal condition that causes snakes to start behaving irrationally, such as tying themselves into a knot that they can’t get out of.
Scientists have been attempting to unlock the cause of this disease for some time now, and, finally, the men in white coats believe they’ve made a breakthrough. Boffins in San Francisco think the malady is triggered by a rodent virus, which causes foreign bodies to lodge themselves in the snakes, known as inclusion body disease (IBD.
The ailment is highly infectious, so no matter how tempting it might be to carry poor Barry the boa constrictor home, refrain from such gestures. Unless you want to come down with a haemorrhagic fever of course.
(Image: Rex Features)