The snakes of Ghana: myth, science and reality

  • DK Attuquayefio Department of Zoology, University of Ghana, P. O. Box 67, Legon, Accra, Ghana


Snakes have been symbols of fear and hostility to most human societies throughout the ages, largely due to their perceived deceit of Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the biblical Garden of Eden, as well as to the general lack of knowledge and appreciation of snake biology and behaviour. This has resulted in the attribution of supernatural powers to snakes, leading to generation of several myths about them, which largely portray them in a negative light. Humans have thus relentlessly persecuted snakes over the years, with negative implications for ecosystem balance and biodiversity conservation. Using interviews, personal experiences, and available reports, this paper attempts to explain away 18 common Ghanaian snake myths as mere misconceptions, while also portraying snakes as quite important and indeed, useful components of the global ecosystem. Some precautions for preventing contact with snakes, thereby decreasing the likelihood of snakebites, have been provided.

Ghana Journal of Science Vol. 44, 2004: 73-86

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eISSN: 0855-1448