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Don't Kill That Snake!

By Edited May 8, 2016 5 4

coast garter

I know that God has advised us to kill the snakes, but anything that eats rats and mice is okay in my book. That is assuming they don’t have huge venom sacks and fangs longer than their head – that’s a really important assumption. I have garter snakes in my flower beds, a five foot king snake at my mailbox, and a rat snake living in the wall of my house, and even though I have a dream once a week that snakes are trying to swallow my head, I have learned that these goobers will do a lot of good for me if I just leave them alone.

Garter snakes are everywhere in North America, from the artic plains of Canada to the jungles of Panama. They especially like to lounge around in our wonderfully manicured flower beds,

common garter
enjoying the sun, and munching on the never-ending supply of slugs, earthworms, lizards, ants, crickets, frogs, and, whenever possible, rodents! They are masters of camouflage, using everything from the shadows of bushes to the garden hose to conceal their location.

Rat snakes are found everywhere above the equator, in hundreds of shapes and sizes.

black rat
They can have the same color patterns as the poisonous pit vipers, which is why they are killed first and mourned later.
They eat birds and, yep, rats. They actually love rats, so much so that they will eat them even when they aren’t hungry. The true ornithologists love to keep rat snakes as pets, but, I don't think so.

King snakes are also found all over North America, in a wide variety of colors and designs.

scarlet king
Although they, too, appear menacing, they do not have the fat, triangular head of our poisonous friends like the water moccasin, copperhead, or rattlesnake. But guess what – the King snake loves to eat these poisonous fiends,
east king
so it is really important that you think for just a second before you try to chop his head off. Anything that will eat a cottonmouth is a friend of mine.

Now none of this is to say that you should try to pick these lovable critters up and give them a kiss on their nose. For one thing, they certainly don’t want you to pick them up, and for another, they will try to bite you!

cal king
Well, what do you expect, they can’t slap your wrist, or scream at you. The only defense mechanism nature has left them with is a mouth, which they will use if they have to. Their problem is that their teeth are made for crunching up frogs and earthworms, not breaking a human’s skin. But a motivated King snake can put a little zing into it’s bite if it has to, and really, just the idea of a snake biting you could put you in the starring roll with ‘Ben’ every night for the rest of your life. So just leave them alone! Listen, these guys are much more afraid of you than you are of them, but you can’t make pets out of them. When your brain’s the size of a butter bean, you don’t think about much, but if they see a human coming after them two or three days in a row, they will wiggle on over to the neighbor’s yard, and guess what, the neighbor’s rats will then sprint on over to yours.   


Aug 23, 2014 5:57pm
That was a great article . I never understood why some people try to kill any snake they see, even if it is non venomous .
Aug 26, 2014 5:58am
Thank you Tweet. I was that way for most of my life - I really do dream that snakes are striking at me about twice a week, but then we found mice in our attic. Rodents living with you is a scarier thought than running into a snake every once in a while.
Sep 2, 2014 5:24pm
Hi: Great mindful article. When I was a kid I was forever catching Garder snakes and had quite a collection. Little did I dream that when I was older I'd end up working with the large anacondas. (That's a story in itself); Anyway, great job and you get yet another thumbs up and rating from me plus a new follower!
Sep 3, 2014 5:52am
Thanks so much Marlando - high praise coming from you. I'll never be brave enough to pick these snakes up and call them pets, but I am fascinated with them. I look forward to checking out some of your prodigious library!
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