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Offensive snakes: cultural beliefs and practices related to snakebites in a Brazilian rural settlement
Santos Fita, Dídac ; Costa Neto, Eraldo Medeiros (coaut.) ; Schiavetti, Alexandre (coaut.) ;
Contenido en: Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine Vol. 6, no. 13 (Mar 2010), p. 1-13 ISSN: 1746-4269
Resumen en: Inglés |
Resumen en inglés

This paper records the meaning of the term 'offense' and the folk knowledge related to local beliefs and practices of folk medicine that prevent and treat snake bites, as well as the implications for the conservation of snakes in the county of Pedra Branca, Bahia State, Brazil. The data was recorded from September to November 2006 by means of open-ended interviews performed with 74 individuals of both genders, whose ages ranged from 4 to 89 years old. The results show that the local terms biting, stinging and pricking are synonymous and used as equivalent to offending. All these terms mean to attack. A total of 23 types of 'snakes' were recorded, based on their local names. Four of them are Viperidae, which were considered the most dangerous to humans, besides causing more aversion and fear in the population. In general, local people have strong negative behavior towards snakes, killing them whenever possible. Until the antivenom was present and available, the locals used only charms, prayers and homemade remedies to treat or protect themselves and others from snake bites. Nowadays, people do not pay attention to these things because, basically, the antivenom is now easily obtained at regional hospitals. It is understood that the ethnozoological knowledge, customs and popular practices of the Pedra Branca inhabitants result in a valuable cultural resource which should be considered in every discussion regarding public health, sanitation and practices of traditional medicine, as well as in faunistic studies and conservation strategies for local biological diversity.