Snake Charmer John Downer/Getty Images
Can you charm a snake with music?
No. The charm has nothing to do with the music and everything to do with the charmer waving a pungi, a reed instrument carved out of a gourd, in the snake's face. Snakes don't have external ears and can perceive little more than low-frequency rumbles. But when they see something threatening, they rise up in a defensive pose. "The movement of the snake is completely keyed in on the guy playing the toodley thing," says Robert Drewes, chairman of the department of herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles) at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. "He sways, the snake sways."