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Friday, September 27 2013

"The only good snake is a dead snake."

Well, considering his experience, I can understand his viewpoint.


"Snakes are misunderstood and are an important part of our ecosystem." 

Remember Nadine?

Yes, Miss Nadine lived in our barn for the better part of one summer and took care of our rodent problem. She gave me the creeps, but I let her stay anyway.

Then there are other kinds of snakes.

"The only good snake is a dead snake!"

Yes, I share his opinion of pit vipers. Sorry folks, I understand they are an important part of the ecosystem, but if I shoot all the rattlesnakes and copperheads, then that's just more rodents available for the rat snakes. But what about the cottonmouths?

For most people, if it's black, it's a cottonmouth, also known as water moccasin, and is shot on sight. My experience has been that most of what folks call a water moccasin is actually some kind of harmless water snake. In fact, it's so obvious that I feel sorry for the snake.

But then again, there are imposters, snakes that mimic the dangerous cottonmouth, to borrow a little 'bad-ass rep' from a real nasty character. So while I have no problems identifying a copperhead or a rattlesnake, I hesitate a bit before I pull the trigger on a black snake, which brings us to last Sunday...

Lily and I were doing our soap deliveries and were enjoying a stop at Dear Friend Mindy's farm, when we noted four of Mindy's dogs rush up and hover over something small.  I was thinking "baby bird" or something else helpless in theface of a pack of curious dogs, when Mindy gasped, "SNAKE!"

Few words will galvanize country folk like that word whispered, gasped, shouted, or screamed in that particular tone. So we ushered the dogs away from the snake, and went over to investigate the intruder. He was inside her back yard, beside the chain link fence. We cautiously poked at him with a rake. He slithered into the tall grass along the fence.

Hmmmm.... we needed a closer look.

Neither of us wanted to kill an innocent snake, but on the other hand, Mindy has an adorable young son, and multiple curious dogs. Proper identification was imperative.  So we poked and prodded the creature in an attempt to get him to move into an empty kitty litter plastic tub. Eventually he cooperated and we were soon rewarded with a black snake in a bucket. He looked pissed. Or scared. Or both. It's hard to tell with snakes. No eyebrows.

Here's what we had:

Mid-sized black/brown snake with triangular-shaped head
pale pink, not quite white mouth
body not exactly fat for its length
not particularly aggressive
yellow belly
darker band along the bottom of his face, making a mask over his eyes, but not exactly like a raccoon

Hmmmm. . . Mindy suggested we photograph it and Facebook for advice. In a moment of insanity, I argued against that because I knew that the majority of our friends know even less about snakes than Mindy and I. But duh! I should have agreed to take a PICTURE of the damned thing. (Hindsight is 20/20.)

So we examined our snake quite closely and still couldn't decide if it was dangerous. We finally decided that since cottonmouths are aggressive and our snake wasn't, he must just be a black snake flattened out in an attempt to mimic a cottonmouth. Satisfied, we patted ourselves on the back for our Snake Social Enlightenment. We carted that sucker across the street, and dumped him out in the ditch beside a wooded area. He slithered off and we congratulated ourselves for having compassion, and for being brave enough to conquer our fear of snakes long enough to conduct a less-than-thorough investigation.

Well Friends and Neighbors, in the world of law enforcement we have a saying,

"In God we trust, all others we run NCIC."

(criminal background checks)


You see where this is headed.

What we failed to notice was that the snake bit one of Mindy's dogs. Poor Whiskey's head swelled right up. Suddenly our enlightened, green, snake-hugger behavior didn't seem as admirable. In fact, it seemed pretty damned dumb. I'm not sure what her husband said, but my husband threw the proverbial shitfit. He was less than amused when he heard Mindy and I had prodded a water moccasin into a kitty litter bucket, carried it across the street, and dumped it out.

Words like "$10,000-12,000 hospital stay" were screamed.

I had no defense. None whatsoever.

A vet was called and fortunately Whiskey survived her encounter. Mindy and I now have a new motto,

"When in doubt, shoot it out!"

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:29 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
I'm no snake expert, but seems like I read or heard that the triangular head was the giveaway on vipers?
Posted by EvenSong on 09/27/2013 - 12:04 PM
Practice safe socializing with snakes....snakes of known risk get shot. Snakes of indeterminate risk get shot. And in case of doubt, shoot first and sort it out later....the reptile reproductive rate is robust, I'm sure.
Posted by clairesmum on 09/27/2013 - 07:55 PM
I would have THOUGHT the head shape was a giveaway except for the fact that some snakes, when scared, can flatten their heads into that shape. Lesson learned though. When in doubt, SHOOT IT OUT!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 09/27/2013 - 09:19 PM
Pretty much all snakes have triangular heads when you get right down to it. The pit vipers might be a bit broader, but you can't use that a means of telling the good from bad. And who the heck wants to get close enough to see if it has elliptical pupils (which the bad guys always have). I am with you 100% on the new motto.
Posted by eightpondfarm on 09/27/2013 - 10:03 PM
That's my motto with ANY snake. The only good one is a dead one and SHOOT it to make sure. Hence the reason I now own a Judge handgun. 5 shots of bird load to take care of snakes in my garden. I don't care to get close enough to indentify them. We have eastern copperheads in the area of my garden near the creek. We have eastern Timber Rattlers near our weekend cabin near Gettysburg, PA. The only ones I leave alive are the big Black Snakes in both areas.
Posted by Pam on 09/28/2013 - 10:57 AM
Your mama taught you better than this!!
Posted by gma on 09/30/2013 - 10:58 AM

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