In “Is that a body under the deck?” I mentioned the snake issue. We’ve had snakes on the property for a long time, a fact that I am not happy about. Yup, I know that they serve a purpose in the grand scheme of planet health and balance, eating unwanted mice and assorted other small pesky critters that seem to want to take over the world. There are snakes at the golf courses that keep the rodent population down and away from the fairways. Okay, that’s all good.
BUT, now the snakes are out to get me. They seem determined to take over my backyard. I was in the middle of bleaching the back fence and a rattler appeared at my feet. Sheila was weeding the side garden and a brown snake (not a garden snake) fell off a railroad tie in front of her. Lots of screaming and jumping up and down and running happening – me louder than Sheila, I have to admit.
After we discovered a few two-foot long snake skins in the Spring near the deck, we called a snake handler. Yes, there are people that ‘handle’ snakes for a living. Let’s all say a collective “Ewwwwww!!!” for that career choice.
The snake handler told us that he would be happy to come out (for $300) to take a look, but could not guarantee results. The problems:
- Snakes like being near a water source. There is a large pond 50 feet away from the back fence and that pond is not going to go away. Before the phone call, there had been a mini-pond underneath the deck, supplying a ready food source of toads and other wildlife. Our mini-pond is gone, but the big one is within slithering distance.
- Snakes like wooded areas. Our house has more than 75 pine and other trees inside and outside the fence, with loads of pine straw on the ground.
- More than one variety of snake in the yard means more than two snake holes (one entrance and one exit for each snake family) The handler could not guarantee that he could catch all (or any) of the snakes.
- If he put down snake poison around the perimeter of the property, it was possible that he might trap any snakes still inside the perimeter, waiting in their sneaky snake holes to glide out when the coast was clear. He promised that we would not like the smell of the poison if he applied it close to the house.
Solutions available to us:
- Shoot any and all of the poisonous snakes we see. Except that we live inside the city limits – so drop that idea.
- Buy mothballs and spread them around the foundation of the house. Snakes hate the smell of mothballs.
- Borrow somebody’s hawk for a couple of weeks and let it watch and wait. And have dinner on us.
- Pour bleach into every hole in the yard. Not exactly healthy for the grass/plants.
- Cut down the trees and clear away the straw. Not gonna happen, trust me.
- Borrow my cousin’s six foot black snake from North Carolina. Sheila doesn’t like that idea. “ANOTHER SNAKE?” she shrieked… Besides, the snake might get out during the delivery car ride.
- Sell the house and move to a condo in Texas near Bridget. Thing is, she’s got really big, nasty spiders in her area. Not a great tradeoff.
We’ve taken care of the food source under the deck, and the rattlers have moved outward, but apparently there are enough geckos and skinks underneath the ramp that keep the brown snake happy. He has expressed no interest in us and other than to startle Sheila in the Spring, he has not made any aggressive moves. But, he is now three feet long and an inch and a half through the middle. We think he’s poisonous, but can’t get a definite ID. The rattlers and the brown snake never seem to overlap their territories, so I’m willing to let him alone for a bit longer while I take care of the known threat.
Anybody have a hawk for hire? Email me.
Fast forward a couple of years.
We needed to replace the ramp and when the old boards were torn up in August, a skink and a few tiny baby black snakes scurried away from the sudden light cast upon their scaly selves. I was happy to see the black snake babies, because the mom/dad (who mysteriously appeared a couple years ago) have been busy keeping the rattlers away. Yay for the slithery team!
BUT, I found a new snake skin…not big enough to be mom or pop and too big, too soon, to belong to any of the babies. And, not big enough to belong to the elusive brown snake. Hmmm… Do we have a new invader, or merely a teenager we never noticed before?
*Photos taken by Patti Phillips