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Get To Know The Snakes In Your Area

May 7, 2012

I killed a snake yesterday and now I feel really bad about it. I had never seen one like it before so I didn’t know if it was venomous or not. I decided to kill it with the shovel before it got away and came back later to bite me or my dog. Pickles always has her nose to the ground and has developed a fascination for anything that moves, especially other reptiles and amphibians like frogs and turtles. I don’t want her to get snakebit so I killed it and then looked it up in my reptiles book.

It turned out that it was an Eastern King Snake, a beautiful, non-poisonous constrictor that eats other snakes (including the venomous ones) as well as rodents. He would have been a good snake to have around.

Because we share this planet with all kinds of creatures, good and bad, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves as to which is which. Years ago, my motto was “the only good snake is a dead snake”. After blowing a Black Snake to bits with a shotgun and getting chewed out by the neighbor kids for killing a “good” snake, I began trying to learn. There are so many varieties that I found it easier to just learn which ones are poisonous and leave the rest alone.

I looked up the subject on Wikipedia today. According to them, there are only seven venomous snakes in South Carolina where I live. They are: Copperhead, Cottonmouth, Eastern Diamondback, Timber Rattlesnake, Eastern Coral Snake, Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake, and the Carolina Pigmy Rattlesnake. The only one of those I have encountered is the Copperhead. I ran over one with the lawnmower once, and I found a nursery of Copperhead babies under a pile of gravel that I was shovelling.

I’ve come across several garter snakes this spring and left them alone. I still don’t like Black Snakes but I don’t kill them. They aren’t poisonous but they can bite and hang on, and the bacteria in their mouths can give you an infection. If I can’t chase them away, I usually snag them with a rake and fling them into the woods. As I was disposing of the unfortunate King Snake this morning, he was covered in flies and one of my mortal enemies – the yellow jacket. That’s the first YJ I’ve seen this year so, from now on I have to be on alert for them. Every year I get attacked by yellow jackets while mowing. Oh, well. That’s summer in the south.

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