Thursday, July 29, 2010

Snake Weather

Pickles the Dog & I almost stepped on a snake this morning.  It was a small thing, unwisely sunning itself on a sidewalk next to a busy street.  It must have had an extreme need for warmth, because the sidewalk was pretty hot.

I saw it at a distance, but I thought it was a stick.  As we approached it must have sensed us, and it's body kind of wrinkled up and it looked at us, oddly reminding me of the bible story about Moses turning a stick into a snake in front of Pharaoh. (Pronouced FAY-roe, btw).  I jumped.  I'm not sure Pickles noticed.  Last I saw it, it was headed into some grass, away from us.   Hopefully it made its way to some place a bit more hospitable for snakes.

This was a brown snake with what I think was a diamond shaped head.  To me, that screams copperhead, a poisonous snake.  Giftig auf Deutch, in case anyone speaks German out there.  But it wasn't as big as I would expect a copperhead to be.  I didn't exactly measure it, but it could not have been more than a foot long, probably less.  I don't know how to reconcile that, except I'm sure copperheads are not born full grown. Maybe it was young.

I've lived around snakes all my life.  Just about anywhere in the USA (except Hawaii), you will find snakes, many of them poisonous. 

In Kentucky, where I grew up, they were very common.   I encountered black snakes all the time, and usually they were on their way to somewhere else.   Once I remember my father and I came across one in the basement, and he killed it.  The snake had apparently crossed a line.  When I was young there were tons of black snakes and copperheads around where we live, and a few rattle snakes, maybe some water moccasins.  Now it seems the copperheads are few and the rattle snakes are many.

As a child, living where I did, encounters with snakes were fairly frequent.  What saved me was that snakes want nothing to do with a human - we're much too big to eat, in fact we're more likely to eat them as far as they are concerned.   But that being said, I've had to walk past them at times.  I once encountered a  curled up rattle snake half in and half out of some weeds, at the foot of an old swinging bridge while I was headed over my grandparents house just off Ball Creek in Knott County.  I froze for a second - I think it was asleep, it gave no indication of caring that I was there.  I gave it as wide a birth as I could, which believe me wasn't wide enough, and got past it.  But it was a long and careful walk up the creek to my grandparents house.  That was a big snake.

Here at our humble abode in North Carolina, I've seen black snakes & copperheads.  I've not seen any rattlers or water moccasins, though I know they are here.  At the bottom of our property there is a creek and a small pond, and what amounts to a small wetlands area - the perfect snake environment.  I don't change it much, because I figure it gives the snakes some place to go.  They can have their snake parties there, listen to their snake music and play their snake games, instead of up around the house.

Intellectually I know snakes are part of the ecosystem.  And they keep down the rodent population, and I'm all for that.  Emotionally though, they scare the crap out of me.  Part of that is the surprise of seeing one - it's unexpected.  Most likely I've walked past them without ever knowing it.  They're predators, and are very good at being stealthy.  They don't want to be seen, so when they are it's usually a surprise for all beings concerned.  Also, the poisonous ones have potential to be dangerous.  Most likely a normal human would survive a bite from a copperhead or rattle snake, but it would not be good.  You'd find yourself in a hospital & in a lot of agony.  And there is always the chance you wouldn't survive.

I don't like snakes.  I don't mind that they exist, but I prefer they not exist in my bubble.


linlah said...

This is a year infested with spiders but no snakes. Lots of spiders.

Heather said...

It has been about a year since I have seen a snake. It was in my kitchen closet and scared my feet into a jig, screams were heard at the nieghbors and hubby was woken promtly to handle the sucker!

I agree they are necessary, but not in my house!!

Anonymous said...

I've often thought that your tweets would make good posts...

A Valdese Blogger said...

linlah - we have plenty of spiders too. And ants.

Heahter - OMG!!! I'm not sure how I'd deal with a snake in a closet. Yikes - sounds like a 911 call to me.

Grace - well thank you!

Karen said...

My sister's little Bijon puppy just got bit by a copperhead yesterday. After a trip to the vet, the puppy is fine. They live in KY.