Saturday, July 15, 2006

Snakes on the Blog!

I'm not a herpetologist, but this week I'm playing one at home:

Snake #1, about 8" in length, found in the middle of our backyard:

Eastern hognose youngster, caught and relocated

Eastern hognose snakes are often killed because they imitate the bad behavior of venomous snakes by hissing, head jabs, fanning the head and neck (like a cobra) and shaking their tails. If the bad behavior doesn't work, they play dead. Although they have fangs in the back of the mouth, they rarely if ever bite humans and are not considered venomous. They eat frogs and other amphibians, so we relocated this guy to a remote area with a nice big pond.

Snake #2, about 36", chased out of the garden by the pup:

Southern Black Racer, living somewhere in the garden

Southern black racers are terrific snakes to have around for a couple of reasons: they eat insects, frogs, other snakes, rats, and just about anything else they can catch. They're also very nervous and prefer to run rather than fight. Racers will only defend themselves if they're cornered, and they will bite to defend themselves, but are nonvenomous. This snake is also often killed because when cornered, it will shake its tail like a rattler.

We've been living with this snake in the garden for a year now, and I've gotten used to him being around. He does run the minute the kids or I come near him. The problem now is our dog. Buddy has almost caught the racer three times over the last month, so I think we're going to have to catch and relocate him.

Molted skin of Snake #3, 72-1/2" long (that's my shoe beside it for size reference), found hanging on the south fence:

I don't want to know.  I really don't want to know.

This one may be a granddaddy of a black racer, which usually reaches a maximum length of 70", or something else. We took the skin over to the local wildlife rehab center to see if they can identify it for us. I'm hoping he lives over in the neighbor's pasture, but I'll be keeping an eye out for him.


  1. I love snakes! When I was two or three, my daddy brought a hognose snake home for me to play with for an hour before releasing it into the woods behind our apts. MOST hognosed snakes either act ferocious or play dead for a length of time that might actually be persuasive. That one couldn't decide, so every 5-10 seconds, it would switch tactics. NOT convincing. My preschool self probably traumatized it for life...but it WAS funny.

  2. Wow. That's an impressive snakeskin. Let us know what it is when you find out?

  3. I love snakes and have taught my daughter to feel the same. She loves for me to catch the ones we find (she's tried once, but always grabs the tail and has been bitten, so I told her to let mom do it) so she can pat them.

    Unfortunately, we're in the minority, as ALL of my in-laws will kill any snake on sight (it's very Biblical in their minds). We have tons of little, non-venomous garter snakes out here and I like having the around eating my grasshoppers (not so much the frogs, but what can I do?). Still, I feel it's my duty to catch them and take them far away so DH can't take them out.

    Cool snakes in your neck of the woods. Good for you for being so kind to the critters! They're just doing their job.

  4. Anonymous8:04 AM

    I love snakes too. We used to catch garter snakes when we were little, hold and watch them for a few minutes, then let them go. We even had one as a pet once. He rocked, I loved him.

    I echo Marianne -- good for you for being good to the snakes. *thumbs up* They're just doing their wonderful snakey thing. ;-)

  5. Very pretty. We have a few black snakes that have been harassing our chickens, and a gopher snake that finds striking my boot while I am watering the orchard, irresistible. But my favorite snake has to be a remarkable garter that I found. I was transferring my wet laundry, when I saw something moving at the bottom of the washing machine. I reached down and pulled out a 6-inch garter snake. He had just gone through a wash cycle. He was unhurt, and very clean. One of my boys must have pocketed him.

  6. Amateur herpetology. *Nods knowingly* Hubby and I actually enjoy it. We like snakes, too, because of their skill in keeping bug populations down. Unfortunately, we don't like them in the house no matter how good their manners are, so we relocate them when we find them there at the ranch.

    At home, hubby had animal control relocate one large rat snake out of concern for our neighbor's cats. He seemed to think the snake might harm the cats (at least, that's his story).

    As for Buddy, I imagine he thinks they are great fun to chase. What great toys. Hope the snakes coexist safely.

  7. Anonymous11:19 AM

    A big e-smooch to you for championing snakes. My wife and I kept snakes for many years. Our first pet together was a Columbian Red-tail Boa whom we named Baby. Our favorite snake over the years was a beautiful Eastern Indigo whom we named Julia, after Julia Child, since they both enjoyed eating so much.

    Our prettiest snake: an Apalachicola king snake. Gorgeous, eh?

  8. Anonymous1:50 PM

    That's one pretty shoe.

  9. Anonymous1:51 PM

    I grew up having to deal with Copperheads, one of the few poisonous snakes in the United States. While I don't love snakes, I don't fear them. My wife and children love them in varying degrees, with three snake-catchers in the family. We don't like losing our eggs to the larger ones, so they get relocated. Living in the woods has its perks.

    Hope you enjoy the joys of nature.

  10. Anonymous1:57 PM

    What a pretty shoe!


  11. I love snakes! A couple of years ago, a baby cottonmouth struck at me, bit my flip flop and missed my skin by a millimeter. What did I do? I caught it and made sure it went to a more appropriate home than my driveway.

    Then I did what the wildlife snake expert man told me to do; put mothballs in the yard to keep away the other baby snakes and mama that were no doubt nearby...

  12. Anonymous6:44 PM

    Mothballs, or mongooses! Just a thought:

  13. Much to my biologist daughter's chagrin, I am terrified of snakes! Better your garden than mine. ::shudder:: :-)

  14. I had those shoes, too!

  15. We have quite a few of those hognose snakes by us. They used to scare the tar out of me. That skin you found would be grounds for hysteria around here. Egads.


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