Snakes are undoubtedly one of the most polarizing creatures to walk this Earth. Oh, and by “walking” I mean “gliding in a supernatural way that gives people goosebumps.” No matter what you personally think of snakes, there’s no denying that they’re one of the most badass tattoo designs out there.
Snake tattoos are great for wrapping around the body and look amazing as the center point of a sleeve. They can also wiggle around a bunch of other tattoos and serve as a creative placeholder. There are so many different ways an artist can depict a snake, which is quite an achievement considering a snake is nothing more than a long tube with teeth at one end.
On a personal level, I’m not sure how I feel about snakes. When I was little, I loved snakes. Long before I was born, my mother had worked as a guide at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, where she spent most of her time hanging around the reptile house. Naturally, she tried to make me feel the same when I went to the zoo when I was young. And for a while it took. I had the opportunity to hold a boa constrictor once and it is still one of the most memorable experiences of my life. If I close my eyes, I clearly remember the weight of the snake on my shoulders as it slowly coiled around my waist.
This was the first of two major encounters I had with a snake in my childhood. The second encounter turned out very differently and left me with some pretty mixed feelings about the creatures.
I was hiking Mount Diablo in Walnut Creek, CA with my dad one fall day. The grass was all yellow and the trail was a little dusty as is the custom. We were talking about one thing or another – I don’t think I’ve ever been silent for more than 15 seconds from the age of 3 until I was an adult – when we came to a bend. Just as I was about to put my right foot down, I heard a deafening hiss, and in the background of the hiss a rattle that could only mean one thing. I looked down and about a foot in front of me was a snake, coiled up with its head up, baring its teeth and hissing, ready to strike.
At that point, I moved faster than I had ever done before and probably haven’t since. I did a 180 and ran as hard as I could the other way. I nearly ran over my dad (luckily I didn’t) and didn’t stop for at least a quarter of a mile. I then had a total panic attack over how the snake was grabbing real estate along the way which was the only way back to the car. We had to turn back and the light was dying quite quickly.
Luckily I calmed down after a little while and when we passed the place the snake was gone. I understand as an adult that the snake was probably more terrified of being stepped on by a talkative tween than I had been of being bitten. But in my psyche, the incident repelled any warm feelings I had for cold-blooded creatures and left me with a whole new phobia.
For years I was terrified of snakes, but over time the curiosity and wonder I had while holding this boa came back to me. Now I can fully appreciate the beauty of snakes and how they are unlike any other creature on this planet. Amazingly, I even considered getting a snake tattoo. I’m still on the fence about this, but as I was gathering the tattoos for the gallery below, I was about to make an appointment to do it. Something tells me that by the end of 2022 a snake tattoo will be added to the collection. It’s like a sssssgreat idea.