Opp Alabama held the Rattlesnake Rodeo this past weekend. Yes, we have people here in Opp, Alabama who catch and handle rattlesnakes. And, it’s a big deal in this small town!

When my husband moved to Oklahoma after high school, he told people he was from Opp, Alabama, home of the World Famous Rattlesnake Rodeo. Some people, dead serious, asked him how to ride a rattlesnake. He answered, “Very carefully!” The hardest part is putting the bit in the mouth!

Of course, the rattlesnakes are not ridden (now you know!) but are put on display and participate in a series of races. A large circle is drawn, the rattlesnakes are placed in the middle, and the rattlesnake who first makes it outside of the circle wins. Fortunately, we have a lot of rattlesnakes in our area for the Rodeo.

Or unfortunately.

Where we live, in the country near the woods and fields, we have seen quite a few rattlesnakes over the years. A few years ago, a ten-foot-long rattlesnake, the largest one we have ever seen, with twelve rattles and a button, crawled into our neighbor’s yard to prey upon a young rabbit. Our cat, your average orange-striped cat, named Tiger, happened to be visiting our neighbor and decided to investigate this strange, rattling creature.

The snake struck. My neighbor saw the incident and yelled for help. As my husband and I ran to help kill the snake, Tiger rushed past us emitting ear-splitting yowls.

After the snake was killed, we searched for our cat but the search was fruitless. The woods run alongside our backyard and we thought he crawled in there to die.

We were wrong.

Three days after the incident, our neighbors heard a noise under their house. It was Tiger. The space where Tiger had holed up wasn’t large enough for a human to crawl into. We did what we could, putting food and water as close to him as possible, not knowing if he would be strong enough to reach them.

A few days later he emerged, his head swollen three times its normal size. We still thought he would die.

We were wrong.

He survived and returned to his good-natured self. Later, I asked our veterinarian how he survived a bite from a ten-foot-long rattlesnake. She said a snake detects the size of its victim and injects just enough venom to kill its prey. Tiger did not receive the full amount of venom stored in the snake’s fangs, otherwise, he would never have survived the attack.

Still he should have died from the bite, especially since he received no care for over a week. We know he had no access to water for three days.

Yet somehow, after lying near death under our neighbor’s house, he emerged alive.

We’re all familiar with the story of Satan in the form of a serpent. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, remember what God said to the serpent?

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)

This, many scholars believe, is the first prophecy about Jesus. “Bruising his heel” is all Satan was capable of. He put Jesus into the tomb but could not keep him there. The resurrection of Jesus bruised Satan’s “head”—sending Satan a crippling blow because Christ arose.

We thought Tiger would never be able to survive a strike from a ten-foot-long rattlesnake, a strike he received meant for the rabbit. We underestimated Tiger’s will to live and overestimated the amount of venom the snake injected.

In the same way, even the disciples of Jesus underestimated his power while overestimating the power of Satan. He can only bruise, not destroy.

When Jesus rose from the dead, he endowed us with his power today. Satan may strike us, yet he is only capable of bruising us. Jesus reminded his disciples: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. (Matthew 10:28)

Our average, regular orange-striped cat, no different than hundreds of other cats, survived the attack of a huge rattler.


We too will survive and will be able to say:

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)



(This is part of the CW Blog-Chain. Check out the side bar for other participants!)


38 thoughts on “Resurrection

  1. What a great article Sheila. I’m glad that Tiger made it. I guess he’s only got 8 lives left now. I love when God teaches us things about himself through everyday life experiences like this. Stories like these are powerful teachers (and reminders) of the truth. I guess that’s why Jesus told so many stories.

  2. Fascinating. We are virtually snake free here. The only natives being the Adder and the Grass snake (non-venomous). Neither of which are as musical as a rattler but then they don’t need to warn folk off as they are not potential killers.
    Tiger gives a truly seasonal slant on the story.

    • They do try to warn you away. I actually think Tiger may have been interested in catching the rabbit himself and just got in the snake’s way. Normally, the snakes around here do not attack our pets or us. It’s only when we bother them that they strike. We also have water moccasins (more of them than rattlesnakes), copperheads, cottonmouths, and coral snakes that are also venomous. Corals are not as common but many years ago, my young cousin came across some newly hatched and thought they were worms. She was about to pick one up when I stopped her!

  3. I know from experience how resilient cats can be. Even so, it’s a miracle Tiger survived the way he did. He probably did retreat under the porch to die, so it’s also a miracle you found him. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful and magnificent God is! PTL! \o/

    ~ VT

  4. Wow, lady, for someone who didn’t know what she was going to write about, you came up with a great post! God definitely gave you the words to write. 🙂

    P.S. – I’m less than 4 hours away. We’re not quite neighbors, but close. Maybe Debra, you and I should make plans to meet up in Mobile or somewhere central to us all one of these days. 😉


  5. Sheila, I love your visuals and how you wrangled us into your setting of ‘home’ with ease. What a great witness Tiger became because of his suffering. 🙂 I hope he is back to his usual self (and I hope the rattler got his!).

  6. I’ve seen rattlesnakes while I lived in Kansas, but not coiled up, ready to strike. Usually I’d see them on the move, or I’d hear their rattle amid tall grasses or wheat stalks. Never had the “privilege” of being bitten by one, but you can bet I’ve heard stories. This is just one more to add.

    ~ VT

      • I heard of someone who was walking through tall weeds, and stepped on a rattlesnake by accident. He was lucky he wasn’t bitten, probably moved too fast before the rattler could react. Even today the story makes me shudder.

        ~ VT

  7. This was a great story – humorous in a way (glad that Tiger survived) but also a great segue into the resurrection and just how powerful our
    God really is. This would make a good ‘Chicken
    Soup’ submission. You should consider it.

  8. Loved this post, Sheila, but I’m sure glad I don’t live in Opp! Just the thought of a bunch of rattlers being gathered up for a festival gives me the willies! I live in Arizona and they tell me we have plenty of rattlers, but I’ve never run across one – thank God!

    I agree, with Tracy – this would make a great Chicken Soup story.

  9. You have a marvelous gift for illustration, Sheila. One of the best parts is that you didn’t rush through the story in order to get to your point. You developed the tale patiently. That made both the story and the following point more powerful.

    One thing I am curious about, though. In describing the snake, you said:

    “A few years ago, a ten-foot-long rattlesnake, the largest one we have ever seen, with twelve rattles and a button. . . .”

    What’s a button? (Actually, the first thing that popped into my head when I read that was, “As opposed to an infant, who usually has twelve buttons and a rattle.”)

    – Scott

  10. Animals can be surprisingly resilient. We live on a 32 acre wooded lot, and over the years we have had a couple of dogs who were snakebit. They swelled up, but usually survived.

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