As an ardent environmentalist, I’m every bit as much in favour of snakes as of any other creatures in creation. Besides, my beloved elder son was born in a Snake year. So I feel no pangs, let alone fangs, in heartily joining the chorus of Gong Xi Fa Cai as we all welcome the Year of the Snake.

It can’t be denied, however, that though in fact most species are completely harmless to humans, snakes have historically had a bad rep as symbols of evil and cunning.