snake wrangling

writersblockDecember 7, 2011

When I came back from getting the paper this morning there was a young rat snake all coiled up on the doorstep. We looked at each other for a while and he didn't seem terribly inclined to move, so I gave him a gentle nudge with the paper as a hint, and instead of slithering away he snapped at me (fine--I'm that way myself in the morning).

So we both stood and regarded each other for a while, and then he decided that the little crack between the bottom of the door and the sill would be a dandy place to retire to while he considered the situation. This meant that I would either squish him with the weather stripping if I opened the door, or else he would have an opportunity for a free home tour inside, neither of which seemed especially desirable.

Since I didn't have anything available to me except the paper, the hose, and the outside broom (which would have been like using a bulldozer to roll an egg down the road), I opted for aiming the hose into the crack a ways behind him, on the theory that even snakes that swim don't like being under water very much. Eventually he took the hint and oozed away.

What's the best way to handle this kind of situation? Of course I could have picked him up before he went into the crack, but I had a feeling he wouldn't have liked that any better. I don't mind snakes at all, but I'm never sure what is going to be the least stressful to them when they just can't stay right where they happen to be at the moment.

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He was probably cold, and just trying to warm up, or he would have run at the site of you. Maybe there was some warm air coming out from under the door that made him want to stay there. I'm thinking the cold water was a good solution. I've never had a non-poisonous snake that didn't run, though, so I can't help you there.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 6:42PM
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Thanks, dirtygardener. I'm sure he's been having a bad week. He's probably been happily minding his own business in the shrubbery on the patio next door, where the owners usually are only here about three weekends a year, but they just this week rented it to a bunch of young construction workers, so I imagine he might also have been a bit discombobulated at losing his peaceful home.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 7:43PM
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I suspect your rat snake is a lot like my black racer, Maurice, who frequents my front stoop to sun himself in the late morning and afternoon. Maurice has lived in my front planter for about two years now; last summer I found out Maurice was really a she, as there were little Maurices a plenty squiggling around. I can tell when Maurice is out when I hear a scream from my wife or daughter as they walk out the front door. And we haven't seen a palmetto bug in the last year-Mo doing his/her job.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 9:21PM
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If I know it's a non-poisonous snake, then I usually just watch them as long as they will let me. ...and I talk to them. Perhaps, I bore them to tears, so they slither away thinking, what kind of a crazy lady talks to snakes. ;)

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 9:41PM
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Billbrandi, I used to have a friendly black racer that lived in a hole by the gate, until a winter-visiting neighbor who seemed like such a nice old lady stomped it to death. (She said she was afraid it would eat her cocker spaniel.)

FLgardenmom, I'm not sure I could cope with knowing I was a source of snake ennui. :)

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 8:24PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I disturbed a racer that was curled up in the crown of a tree fern. He struck right at my face. While I'm not particlarly afraid of snakes it helps to be prepared ?? lol
i did yelp somewhat like a small girl but only for a Feel rather fortunate it was not a cobra or one of those 20 foot pythons that florida is becoming so famous for lol Will rethink entire view of snakes for that encounter lol gary

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 4:29AM
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Yikes, gary!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 1:08PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

I would probably use the broom next time, if there is a next time. My friend just had a 6 foot diamondback rattler in her greenhouse. She didn't want to kill it. Don't know what happened to that one. We had a little 1 1/2 foot diamond back in the front yard this spring. First time I have seen one(alive) since we moved to Florida in 1989.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 7:30PM
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The thing about rattlers is that they don't want to be anywhere near you, and unless they are trapped, they will backytrack to get away. Now desert diamondbacks are different, because they can't see well and will track heat. Mocassins will chase you too. I remember the young man that my aunt's in-laws had clearing their land on the island where my mom grew up. He killed a 6-foot diamondback with a hoe. He said it didn't have time to coil. It was early in the morning, still chilly, and he caught it sleeping. We used to find puff adder skins in the house every summer when we would go down for vacation. We never could figure out where the snake was getting in, but he was, and he liked shedding his skin in the back room that used to be my grandmother's room. A man clearing land once told us that if we knew how many rattlers there were in our yard, we would never leave the house. It was so sad how he died. He and his family had been clearing land on that island for over 100 years, and he got bit by a diamondback and died before he could get to the hospital.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 11:31PM
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Hmm, I just went out to take out the trash and on the way back he was stuck to the wall by the front door like a lizard. I didn't think snakes could do that--it's fairly rough stucco, so it would be easy to climb, but he was motionless, just sitting there a couple of feet off the ground.

We pretended not to see one another and I went in and shortly afterwards saw him down on the patio looking in at me through the kitchen slider.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 11:29PM
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