We thought that it was some sort of hysterical joke, but it seems that some people have the idea that a snake massage counts as a form of relaxation and serenity. In Indonesia, snake massages are the current hype amongst locals and even tourists whereby the hands of professional masseuses are replaced by scaly-skinned cold-blooded six-foot pythons that slither over the customers.
While we recoil in horror at the thought of it, customers often describe the feeling as a “unique sensation that gives an adrenaline rush.” Although it seems awfully dangerous, the 90-minute session is also attended by two masseuses who are in charge of ensuring the safety of the customers by sealing the snakes’ mouth shut with sticky tape as well as to encourage the snakes to move around.
The treatment, at the massage centre called Bali Heritage Reflexology and Spa, costs US$43 and the snakes are taken out of plastic containers where they are kept and cleaned with antiseptic after each customer. The spa, which is decorated with wooden furniture in a traditional style house on the resort island of Bali, keeps five snakes which are fed with live rabbits daily.
Although thrill-seekers seem to love the idea of the snake massage, animal rights groups such as the Jakarta Animal Aid Network have raised concerns, describing the massage of the snakes as “exploitation”.
“We are angry to hear about any kind of animal exploitation, including snakes,” group spokesman Benvika mentioned.
To that of course, the spa had insisted that the snakes were not being ill-treated and are treated like friends and family. In addition, they also claimed that the snakes enjoy the contact with humans from the massages.