Beyonce’s words were mine too when I was invited to drape a 5-foot long royal python around my neck at the Temples des Pythons in Ouidah. I was not necessarily afraid of doing so – even though I am quite scared of snakes. But I just couldn’t bring myself to oblige as I have an associated fear inherited from my mother.

[Disclaimer]: Mum, if you’re reading this, I was never in that building!

Much like ‘he-who-must-not-be-named’, the slithering creatures get a different name in my household. There, they are referred to as ‘that-thing-you-don’t-like’ or simply, ‘ropes’. The context would typically clarify what kind of rope we were referring to.

In Ouidah though, snakes are not feared, rather they are seen as sacred animals in the voodoo religion – which is an official religion followed by nearly 40% of the population (according to this BBC’s report).

python temple ouidah

The temple itself is a pretty small building housing somewhere between 50-60 royal pythons. Our guide went on to demonstrate how harmless they were by holding one of them before handing it to our group. But even that could not persuade me to do the same.

python temple_ouidah

We were told that every month, the snakes were released to go search for food for themselves and were welcomed into people’s homes where they would gladly help themselves and simultaneously take care of any rat or mice problem before slithering back to the temple.

python temple ouidah_benin
Ouidah snake temple

It is not uncommon to see the voodoo religion practiced side by side with other religions. As in literally! I found it surprising to see the city’s cathedral directly opposite the temple.


In any case, this place was interesting to visit. The chances of me visiting again are very slim but if I do find myself in a similar situation, my answer would remain the same!

PS: I visited this temple during a 3 day tour of Nigeria and Benin Republic. You can read about it here.

So, what do you think about this place and would you drape a snake around your neck?

I love to hear from you, Leave a comment here!


  1. Hi , nice info.
    Can you shed more light on accomodation and currency / spending.

  2. Lol…no thank you! I am however willing to try eating cooked (grilled/boiled/whatever) snakes.. More for the experience tho.

    • We’re getting closer to the person who says ‘Hell Yeah!’ to this! I can feel it!

      Going to have to pass on the boiled/grilled/fried snake too…

  3. Urghhhhhhhhhhh! No no nooooo! Sacred or not, never ever going to drape a snake around my pinky finger ๐Ÿ˜’

  4. Nah Nah, Hell no! I wouldn’t touch one with a ten foot barge pole! Very interesting to know that they are virtually harmless in this part of the world though!

  5. I’m wondering why these snakes are harmless while same species in other places are harmful. What’s special about the place that makes them so harmless?
    What happens when they feel threatened? still harmless. I definitely don’t want to find out. Sorry, I think this destination will pass. Next place please…

    • That’s actually a good question, lol. For some reason, I assumed that it had something to do with voodoo. Perhaps they were charmed? hehe.. But I’ve come to learn that royal pythons are generally non-venomous & harmless, so it isn’t just these guys.

      • Charmed? sorry I cant trust my life to Voodoo…I will take the second explanation of them being non-venomous and harmless….but what if by chance one harmful foreign one mixes with the harmless local ones? probably transported to that area in a luggage by mistake or something …still too risky for me…

  6. Snakes will not be going round my neck anytime soon.

  7. Hmmm…….I fear for my precious life. hnnn…hnnn. Wonders shall never end. This is scary mehnnn. MY QUESTION, How are the members of the church comfortably seated knowing that snakes are close by?

    • But the snakes are harmless! haha!

      I think what is more scary is the fact that they are welcomed in people’s homes. Imagine sleeping in your bedroom and getting this kind of visitor at night!