Most people prefer snake tattoos that use a realistic depiction. The image of a red and black ‘scarlet’ snake, or deep black ‘racer’ snake coiling around an arm, leg or perfectly straight along the length of the spine, are not uncommon pieces to see. A large portrait-type image of a cobra that seems to be on the verge of striking from out of the skin is another good example of the realistic approach. An interesting spin on this idea is of the lifelike snake actually piercing its fangs into the tattoo wearer’s skin.
Snake tattoos do not necessarily have to show the whole snake. Because of the colorful nature of this reptile’s scales, it can easily be utilized to create a unique armband, or even cover larger areas of the body. These scales overlap and have an appearance akin to a softly diamond shaped tile. Each row of scales can be a different color; Western coral snakes, for instance have perfectly straight and vivid red, black and white scales; a timber rattlesnake generally has wavy lines in varying shades of steel gray and black.
Many snake tattoos feature a scene of some sort. The snake charmer is one interesting idea; a long-bearded man sitting in the midst of a busy street scene; a dark, hypnotized snake dancing like smoke from inside a woven basket. The cobra can also be shown wrapped around the image of a sleeping Buddha, protecting him from the sun with his vast neck and head. You could also show a more provocative image of the goddess Coatlicue — whose skirt and face were said to be made up of many serpents — placed in a somber setting to signify both the life and death that she was said to hold sway over.
To some people, snakes are a thing to be avoided at all costs. In many cases, their infamy is sound, but the fearless few who choose to get snake tattoos know that the creatures that are dangerous hold as much beauty as those that are peaceful.