It’s never good when a conversation begins like this:
“Now, honey, I don’t want you to freak out, but I need to make you aware of something.”
Nope, never a good way to start the day.
Some women might immediately jump to conclusions and wonder what confession was forthcoming from their man. I almost wish that my mind had jumped there instead. But I live in Texas and am married to a man who knows my biggest fear. So before he’d even finished that sentence, I knew what he was going to say.
He’d seen a snake in our backyard. He’ also seen a couple out in the barn.
This might not seem like a big deal to many of you. However, you don’t live with me and you don’t understand the depth of my snake phobia. I subscribe to the philosophy that the only good snake is a dead snake. To heck with the ecosystem, I’m plum scared silly of the darn things.
There has also been a rash of rattlesnakes in our little town this spring and summer. The stories I’ve heard about finding a den of snakes under portable buildings, and even in someone’s house, just make my skin crawl (pardon the pun).
Now according to Jungle Jim, snakes can be beneficial. They keep the insects and rodent population down which is something I’m all for. Those aren’t critters I like either. I just wish it didn’t require a snake to keep their numbers down.
Since it’s obvious that I’m not going to be able to avoid ever seeing a snake where I live – especially since hubby has now seen one around the woodpile and has seen two out in our barn, my question for me is, “How do I know when a snake is poisonous?” so that I can try not to hurt myself when the day comes that I stumble upon one.
Fortunately, my hubby is a biologist and knows snakes well. He used to teach class with snakes wrapped around his neck and shoulders (the mental image makes me shudder!). So I worked up my courage and asked for a quick lesson in the identification of poisonous snakes. I figured that being able to tell the poisonous ones from the non-poisonous ones might keep me from hurting myself even more than the snake actually would.
So here’s what I learned:
- the head is broader than the neck
- often has a diamond checker pattern on its’ back
- is a bigger, fatter snake
- has elliptical pupils (there’s no way I ever intend to be close enough to determine this)
Avoiding snakes is easier than running away:
My plan, however, is to avoid ever having to determine whether a snake is poisonous or not. I have to admit that I don’t ever step foot outside my door without being conscious that I might run in to one of these critters. Awareness goes a long way towards keeping people from running into snakes in the first place.
For example, when watering or working outdoors, I don’t ever stick my hands or feet into grassy areas that I can’t see clearly. We’ve weeded and cleared out overgrown flowerbeds and planter boxes. Snakes are drawn to places where they can hide and fortunately, they don’t want to run into me any more than I want to run into them.
We also work towards making sure that the snakes don’t have a food or water supply around which would draw them. While it’s not possible to completely make a property snake-proof, you can take steps. I’d love to have a water feature in the backyard, but I know that it would draw snakes so it’s something I’m going to do without.
If you remember that old Charley Pride song, “The Snakes Crawl At Night”, then you also know that dawn and dusk are times when you need to be especially careful. Even though Charley’s song was about a different kind of snake, they are crepuscular and tend to be hunting rodents at these times. The phrase certainly made an impression on me even if Charley wasn’t singing about reptiles.
It also helps to keep outdoor clutter and “stuff” to a minimum. No sense becoming a landlord to a snake by giving him an easy place to live. Snakes like to hide and if you’ve got clutter and junk in your yard, you might as well put a “vacancy for snakes” sign out. Overgrown and brushy areas make for a perfect snake habitat.
But if I do run into a snake I’ve got a plan. Back up slowly and carefully. Try not to make sudden moves that would startle the snake or make it think I’m a threat (which I’m not, because I’ll be trying not to wet my pants!). And get out of the snake’s vicinity as quickly as possible.
And of course, try not to hurt myself in the process.
Apparently, most snake bites are self-defense on the part of the snake since people are too big for them to enjoy as a meal. The snake bites when it’s startled, injured, or frightened (that, of course, would make two of us!). So a slow, steady retreat without sudden moves is more likely to allow me to get away from the snake without any nasty little puncture wounds – or heart attacks!
I’m sure the emergency personnel will understand why my pants are wet, but I’d still be embarrassed.
[bctt tweet=”I’d rather try to avoid a snake than to have to get away from one!” username=”@sasmerchant”]
We’ve also had some issues with dogs this summer. Read this post to learn a few tricks to avoid a vicious one.