Have you ever wondered why there are no snakes in Ireland? Aside from imported pet snakes, the country is serpent-free.
According to Irish Central, there’s a legend that credits St. Patrick for the lack of snakes in Ireland. We’re probably all familiar with some legends surrounding St. Patrick, but many don’t realize he was responsible for chasing snakes into the sea!
As the legend goes, St. Patrick not only introduced Christianity to Ireland but also banished all snakes from Emerald Isle. He allegedly chased the snakes into the sea from atop a cliff when they began to attack him during his 40-day fast.
While the legend is fun to think about, National Geographic reports the real reason Ireland doesn’t have any snakes has more to do with the Ice Age than St. Patrick.
It’s true that Ireland is unusual in its absence of snakes, being one of just a handful of places to lack native snakes, including New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica. However, it’s unlikely this absence has anything to do with a single man.
National Geographic goes on to explain that some believe Ireland was connected to a large landmass during an ice age that kept temperatures far too cold for reptiles to thrive. As the ice age ended and glaciers melted, Ireland was separated from its neighbors.
Before Ireland became separated from other landmasses, some species like wild boars, lynx, and brown bears managed to make it across and settle down. Even a species of reptile, a lizard, found its way to Ireland and established a population. Snakes never had a chance before Ireland became a true island, though. At least, that’s what scientists currently believe.
While the reality may be less exciting than the legend, at least you now know!Whizzco