What do Ireland,  New Zealand, Iceland and the Vatican City, have in common?

….You will not find a single snake on any one of them!

So if you suffer from Ophidiophobia (Abnormal fear of snakes) then maybe you could treat yourself to a holiday to one of these destinations. On the other hand, if you are an Ophidiologist, then you would not want to do your research here.

There are also many territories, or parts of countries without any snakes, like  Hawaii, Greenland, Bermuda, St Helena, Isle of Man and Antarctica.

St Patrick of Ireland’s story is one of many legends told to explain the absence of snakes.

According to tradition, St Patrick is responsible for the absence of snakes in all of Ireland.

St Patrick was born in England around 390AD. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he worked as a slave for 7 years. He escaped to England, where he studied in a monastery and then went back to Ireland and built many schools, churches and monasteries.

The story goes that he was in the middle of a 40 day fast on a hill when he was attacked by snakes. Apparently he wasn’t one to take any nonsense, so he drove all the snakes in Ireland into the sea. The fact that not a single snake can be found in Ireland, is therefore attributed to St Patrick’s BIG DRIVE!

Since there have never been any remains of snakes found on the island, plus the fact that snakes will not attack in a pack, nor hunt down humans (except in Hollywood),  the most likely reason for the absence of snakes could be that, during the last Ice Age, the island was too cold for the reptiles. When the ice melted, Ireland was surrounded by water, preventing snakes from slithering over.

The same happened in Britain, but long ago there was a land bridge connecting it to mainland Europe, so Britain was colonized by three snake species: the venomous adder, the grass snake, and the smooth snake.

Related Post