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 Is Simple (Mostly)
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.
Pythons Are The Snake Of Choice
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.
There’s No Chance Of Being Bitten
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.
It Creates An Adrenaline Rush
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.
You Might Have To Travel To Get A Snake Massage
It’s Actually Fairly Inexpensive
Getting a snake massage sounds like the type of thing that would break the bank, but it’s actually surprisingly affordable. At the Bali Heritage Reflexology and Spa in Jakarta, Indonesia, you can get 90 minutes of snake time for only 480,000 rupiah ($43 USD). Barak’s Snake Spa in Israel offers sessions for £30.
Some Claims Are Unrealistic
Some of the claims that have been made about the benefits of snake massages seem a little dubious. For example, Sarah Zaad, otherwise known as the Snake Queen, claims that her snake massages can cure depression and heal childhood trauma. She claims to have a 100% success rate. While her customers may have benefited from the massages, there is no evidence to support the claim that it can cure clinical depression.
Animal Rights Activists Don’t Love Snake Massages
When animal rights activists got wind of snake massages, many didn’t exactly approve. In fact, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network called it “exploitation.”
Paulus Abraham, the general manager of the Bali Heritage Reflexology and Spa, claims that the animals are well cared for, and actually enjoy human interaction. About his staff’s interactions with the snakes, he said: “we don’t treat them like workers, we treat them like our friends or family. We kiss them, we hug them, we take good care of them.” The true impact on the snakes has not been studied.
There Are Plenty Of Other Unusual Massages Out There
Do you want an unusual massage, but balk at the idea of being covered in 500+ lbs worth of live snakes? If so, there are plenty of other unusual massage options that you can try. You can get a massage done by a man wearing a gorilla suit. You can get a strawberry ice cream massage. The possibilities are endless if you find the right spa.
Some of these options actually seem more dangerous, like the Chinese Fire treatment, which involves, rubbing an herbal paste into the problem area, soaking a towel in alcohol, applying the towel, and then setting it on fire. Not into that? Try the Venik massage, a Russian practice that involves being beaten with a bundle of heated sticks.
Snakes Are Used For Other Strange Things Too
Massages aren’t the only unusual purpose that humans have found for snakes. There’s snake handling, a Christian religious practice that emerged in Appalachia in the first half of the 20th century. Churchgoers handled venomous snakes to prove that God would protect them from all things. Due to the huge potential for danger, the practice has been banned in all states except for West Virginia.
Snake venom has also been used for medical purposes. Some types of snakes may have venom with antitumor or antibacterial properties. Neurotoxins in snake venom have been used to develop drugs that treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and hemotoxins have been used in drugs for blood and heart diseases. Researchers are only beginning to understand the myriad ways that snake venom might help improve human health.