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Another Snake Post

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I say "another" because of this one I posted in 2018:


Anyway, last night one of our dogs was barking at something out on the back porch.  I went  to investigate and there was a HUGE black Rat Snake on my grill table.  Considering the amount of damage rats and mice have caused me over the years while living in the woods, this didn't bother me at all.  My only concern with having them around the house is the risk of one of my dogs hurting them, otherwise I welcome them.

This one was possibly over 6 ft (max.- 7 feet). I checked on him every 30 minutes or so with a flashlight as it explored the walls and deck furniture. They are excellent climbers and have no problem going straight up a vertical wall. (They hold on to vertical surfaces with their belly scales.)  I'm sure it was hunting.

Meanwhile, a couple of years ago, I had fitted a small shelf in the upper corner the porch as a nest site for wrens. A pair of Eastern Phoebes had already used it to build a nest and raise a brood.  After I  cleaned the nest out, they built another and were raising their second brood of the year. 

Phoebes aren't particularly attractive birds - nor do they have impressive songs - but they are members of the flycatcher family and have a habit of perching in the yard and then suddenly flying straight up about 25 feet to snatch insects right out of the air.  That's pretty cool, especially if the bugs are mosquitos.

Well, the rat snake had sure enough found the Phoebe's nest and was ensconced around it in a ball. Don't know if he suffocated the chicks first (rat snakes are constrictors) but when I saw him, he was swallowing a chick head first.  I could see the feet sticking out.  It took him about 5 minutes to get one down then he would reach down and get another.  I watched him eat at least 3 chicks but there may have been a couple more.

Anyway, such is the balance of nature.  But it's fun - even if a little horrific - to watch it in action.

This of course gave me mixed feelings.  On the one hand, he was eating my future mosquito hunters but hey, rat snakes gotta eat too.  I would prefer they stick to rats, but considering how well they climb, I'm sure birds make up a significant part of their diet.  But they probably take a lot more rats and mice than than hawks and owls do.

I have a storage building that's constantly being invaded by rats that get in around spaces around the roll-down door. Several times I have raised the door, gone in and been surprised by a black rat snake sitting on something at eye level.  Scares the s*** out of me.

Another time I was "duckwalking" under my wooden deck routing speaker wire or something and a medium size Black Rat snake fell down from underneath the deck almost at my feet. It startled me so bad I jumped up wacking my head. (This was right after the move 'Alien' came out, which was still on my mind.)

I sure hope this latest snake doesn't surprise me in such a way. (Did I mention how large it was?)

But as long as we have rats and mice (I once had to replace a wiring harness on my tractor for over a $1000), Black Snakes are welcome cohabitants in my little spot of nature. 




Edited by homersapien
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31 minutes ago, homersapien said:

But as long as we have rats and mice (I once had to replace a wiring harness on a tractor for over a $1000) Black Snakes are welcome cohabitants in my little spot of nature. 

Hard to convince people snakes can be a benefit to have around. I am a huge proponent of leaving snakes be. Beyond me why people feel the need to destroy every snake they cross.

Understandable if a snake can be identified as poisonous, in your yard or garage and removing it requires killing. Also want to eliminate if children are in the area. Most bites do occur in yard and storage shed areas. Would not advise anyone to go digging through stuff in storage areas without be cognizant, especially in the south. 

Irritates Mrs. Salty that I am a snake sympathizer and have no fear of handling snakes.

BTW, rodent damage to wiring on the wife’s new vehicle several years ago ran over a couple of thousand. Home owner insurance did pick up the tab. I didn’t even think about submitting the claim until the dealer repair people informed me.

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