Sunday, May 6, 2012

And now there are snakes!

I grew up in south Louisiana, land of venomous snakes. Water moccasins were the most common, and of course there were plenty of copperheads, and a few canebreak rattlesnakes thrown in for good measure. Despite this, I actually like snakes. I used to "babysit" my science teacher's pet king snake in middle school, and I had a rat snake for a couple of years. I also used to volunteer at the Nature and Science Center, in the herpetology area. So I can recognize venomous snakes pretty well, and I find the non-venemous ones pretty cool.

Quick note: Snakes are venomous, not poisonous. The best way to remember that is if you eat it and you die, it's poisonous. If it tries to eat you and you die, it's venomous. Also, all venomous snakes in North America, with the exception of coral snakes, are pit vipers. They have pronounced triangular heads, thick, flat bodies, and pupils that are slits instead of round (not that I recommend you getting close enough to see it!). So they are super easy to ID, even from a good distance.

So when I came across this big "stick" crawling across the road yesterday, I hopped out of the car to check it out:

Meet the new (harmless) neighbor! Click to enbiggen.

This guy is probably a Texas rat snake, or possibly a bull snake - their markings are quite similar, so it's hard to tell. However, given past experiences with this guy in our back pasture, and this guy in our shed, I'm hoping that it's the same snake and our house is part of his territory. Rat snakes eat rodents (yay!), are non-vemomous, and tend to stay away from people, so I'm really glad to have him as a neighbor. Having said that, I wouldn't try to pick him up or anything - snakes are very strong, and even the shyest wild snakes will bite in self-defense, so it's best to just let them go on their way.

Out of curiosity, now that y'all know there are scorpions AND snakes at my house, would you ever come visit if you just happened to be in the area?



Maybe I should blog about cute bunnies instead?


  1. I'd come visit. Australia has a nasty reputation for venomous snakes and insects. :P I'm pretty used to it.

  2. Not sure what it says about me, but it never occurred to me to stop coming, decline invitations to house sit, etc. Hmmmmn.

    1. Hmmmm indeed. I think it might have to do with a certain schpotted pony... ;)

  3. I love snakes too, they are misunderstood creatures. I wonder if some snakes would eat the scorpions? Hmm...

  4. I just posted about a snake encounter too. Mine was a rat snake also. We have cotton mouths, copperheads plus several types of rattlers here.

    This morning, I watched a pair of (I think) red belly water snakes mate in a pond. They very much resemble cottonmouths, so much so that I spent some time at a snake id site just now, to confirm.

    That was very illuminating - lots of water snakes get mistaken for cottonmouths (water moccasins) and lots of others get confused with copperheads. Like you mentioned, the upshot is head shape and eye shape to be certain it's venomous.

    Some important horse vs snake info... horses often get bit on the hose by being curious, and slow. Very rare for a snake bite to kill a horse outright, but if your horses gets bit on the face, two six inch pieces of hose should be vaselined and put into the nostrils, as the extreme swelling can close off the airway. Infection of the bite site is more likely to endanger your horse's life that the venom. Sorry for the novel, but ask me how I know...

  5. Your rat snake was so cute and small! I really quite like them, they're awesome hunters.

    You're right, there are a bunch of snakes that look like cottonmouths, especially "water snakes" (genus Natrix). They have more triangular heads so they are a little hard to tell apart, and they are quite aggressive and will stand their ground, like cottonmouths. They do have round pupils, but at that point, I'm not getting close enough!!!

    Scary to think about horses getting bitten. My neighbor down the street found a 4 foot rattlesnake on her back porch. Yikes. Hopefully they will stay away from the horses!

  6. Jen I'll come visit, your wildlife is still much less scary than ours is :)