Snakes On A Plain

Published 4:11 pm Thursday, June 23, 2011

We haven't really had any trouble with them this year. In fact, well, other than a few road kill victims, some surprise gifts from the cats and that one half-dead critter on the trail, it's been a rather snakeless sort of spring.

Not that I'm complaining. And, let me be perfectly clear, I'm not complaining at all. Actually, I'm rather happy-might even say satisfied-if it stays like this the rest of the summer.

While they have their ecological purpose, most of us don't like snakes (apologies in advance to the nightmares this column is sure to cause) whether they're poisonous or not. The genesis of our distaste perhaps involves some sort of forbidden fruit, a woman who had never been lied to being lied to, and things not being quite so paradise-like after that first taste.

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For the most part, a live-let-live policy is a good one to follow: as long as snakes stay out of the house and let my family live in peace, I can deal with it (though a poisonous villain had better stay away altogether). A man's house, after all, is supposed to be his snakeless castle, right?

No one wants to reach their hand into the utensil drawer in the kitchen and find a snake.

Or hear something fall at the other end of the house, only to discover a long slender unfriendly sort gave it a push.

Or open the door only to find slithery guest waiting for them.

Such are the potential dangers of living in the country (sigh) and where there's a hole, there's something that wants to slither through it.

Most of us have snake stories and my most memorable one involves a certain dog. The evening was running late as I walked sans flashlight down the path on the other side of the garage and away from the house. (Yes, one should always have some illumination, but I was foolishly braving it.) Our loyal chow/spitz mixed breed dog, on a runner at the time, offered an unusual sort of snarl back up the path in the very area I had just walked through. As I looked back through the darkness I caught a gleam from the moonlight of what I would later discover was a copperhead. The dog had flipped it in the air.

Good dog.

Very good dog.

An then there was the time…

Well, I suppose, you don't want me to go on with my stories, but I did run across this interesting Associated Press write-up about a house in Idaho. Ben and Amber Sessions purchased a five-bedroom house in 2009 that was infested with garter snakes.

How bad was it?

“Throngs of snakes crawled beneath the home's siding. At night, the young couple said they would lie awake and listen to the slithering inside the walls,” the story read.


Yes, they're not poisonous…But, eew!

The story cites that at the “height of the infestation, Sessions said he killed 42 snakes in one day before he decided he couldn't do it any more.” It's understandable that they moved away.

That's a lot of creepy-crawlies. The home, one wildlife biologist speculated in the article, had most likely been built on a snake den or “hibernaculum.”

I suppose in their own environment snakes aren't all bad-just don't want to see them in the house or garage or in the yard, driveway, hanging in the tree or anywhere in plain sight.