If you're feeling tense, there's nothing like a massage to get you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Sure, you could get a regular massage, but if you want to indulge your wild side, you can also try getting a massage from a snake. You might be wondering: what are snake massages? This perplexing practice involves laying down and letting yourself be covered in 500+ pounds worth of live python. They move in ways that human hands can't, leaving you totally tension-free, if a little bit terrified.
While some people understandably balk at the idea of snake massages, the niche practice is growing in popularity, with numerous spas worldwide offering the unusual treatment. What do you think? Would you lay down under a pile of wriggling pythons and let them work their magic, or would you run from the spa screaming?
The process of a snake massage is actually far less complicated than one might imagine. After the snakes are thoroughly washed, they're pretty much just draped across the customers' torsos and faces, and given free rein to slither around as they please. They might even use their tongues, which apparently feels like being tickled.
As simple as this seems, customers still need to adhere to a few rules to make sure that the experience stays pleasant. Do not shout at the snakes. This will confuse them into thinking that you're a predator, or prey. Don't blow air at them - it's painful. Make sure to avoid sudden, jerky movements. Follow these rules, and you decrease the likelihood of problems.
Snake massages are pretty much exclusively performed by pythons. Unlike some snakes, pythons are not venomous. These snakes, which can be measure up to 33 feet long, kill their prey by squeezing the life out of them. Once their prey is dead or unconscious, the python will unhinge their jaw and swallow them whole. They can consume prey that's five times the size of its head. While this might not sound like a creature you'd want to cover your body with, it is the right size for the job.
When getting a massage, the last thing you want to have to worry about is that you're going to get bitten in the process. To prevent them from getting snacky, snakes are fed 30 minutes beforehand. The Cebu City Zoo in the Philippines feeds their snakes 10 or more chickens. In case that's not enough to keep them from biting, their mouths are taped shut.
While snake masseuses do take care to minimize the risks, it's nearly impossible to experience a snake massage and feel no fear. Fear, though, is part of the appeal. Fear creates a rush of adrenaline. This allegedly has several health benefits. While no research has been done on snake massages specifically, a 2011 study did associate adrenaline with several metabolic processes, including lipolysis and releasing lactic acid from muscles.
Besides being physically beneficial, it can provide a psychological release. Some people get snake massages for the same reason that some people go skydiving: confronting a fear, surviving it, and feeling their stress melt away.