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Armed to the Teeth: Meet the Cobra Mafia

The silhouette of a hissing, hooded cobra has conjured nightmares for both animals and humans alike for thousands of years. A mythological figure in cultures worldwide, the snake is a powerful symbol, and members of the cobra family can be thought of as the ‘kings’ of the snake world. Combining both super-toxic venom and hollow…

What’s in a Name: How to Name an Animal

On last week’s episode of The Savage Line, animal guard Cory Valdes stumbled upon a fer-de-lance, a vicious snake whose name in French, roughly translated, means “lance head.” But while most know the snake as such, it has another, slightly less memorable name: Bothrops lanceolatus. Why does a snake with such an interesting, aggressive name…

6 Gross Animals With Illness-Curing Powers

The animal kingdom is full of creepy, slimy, nasty-looking creatures – and many of them can save your life. Doctors are incorporating nature’s weirdest animals in unorthodox treatments drawn from ancient healing methods, Eastern medicines and medical testing, developing new ways to heal patients. Learn more about how your least-favorite animals are curing illnesses below.…

Grammy Winner Ricky Skaggs Vs. Snake Salvation

“I like the spirit movin’, but I don’t like them snakes movin’.” – Ricky Skaggs Snake Salvation Pastor Andrew Hamblin was fast-tracked to become a bluegrass superstar when he was younger, but gave up his musical dreams to become a preacher and handle snakes. Playing bluegrass music is a forbidden practice in Hamblin’s Holiness faith.…

Law-Breaking Snakes

Inspired by Snake Salvation to start wrangling poisonous serpents? Newsflash – the practice of “handling reptiles in a dangerous way” has been illegal for over 60 years. After five churchgoers died from snakebites in church in 1947, snake handling was banned in every Appalachian state except West Virginia. But Snake Salvation Pastors Jamie Coots and…

The South’s Most Venomous Snakes

Tonight on Snake Salvation, disaster strikes when Pastor Jamie’s father Greg Coots is bitten by the copperhead he handles in church. Greg, a bishop of the Holiness faith, has endured three snake bites before. And at age 61 with an enlarged heart, refusing to get treatment for the copperhead bite could mean death. Copperheads aren’t…

Anatomy of a Snakebite

“I handle snakes because I wanna go to heaven. When the death angel comes it’s time to go, and I don’t believe you can rush it.” – Little Cody Coots When a cottonmouth bites Little Cody Coots, he’s hit with excruciating pain and numbness. And when he tries to go snake hunting on Louisiana’s Laddo…

Six Snake-Handling Horror Stories

When it comes to snake handling, the truth is often stranger than fiction. Over 100 people have perished from snakebites during church services over the past century, and despite the outlawing of the practice in several southern states, a new generation of pastors is reviving the dangerous practice. Here are some of the most chilling…

Pastors on the Hunt for Snakes

With winter fast approaching the heart of Appalachia, Pastor Andrew Hamblin and Pastor Jamie Coots are in a desperate race against time: if the pastors can’t find and capture venomous snakes before the serpents go into hibernation, they won’t be able to practice a key sign of what they believe are the true believers of…

Snake Salvation: Inside the Controversial World of Serpent-Handling Churches

Imagine if your path into heaven was contingent on holding deadly snakes above your head while speaking and singing in tongues. Based on a Bible passage that suggests a poisonous snakebite will do no harm as long as its handler is anointed by God’s power, some devotees of this unconventional ritual practiced in 100 churches…