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First Snake EVER!

Posted by MiaOKC 7 (My Page) on
Mon, May 14, 12 at 22:19

As you can tell from the title to this post, I found my first snake ever IN the garden. I've seen snakes run across the street around our old house, occasionally, as we were across from an oil field, but hadn't seen anything here. Was taking our "tour" with DH tonight, and as we squeezed past the tomato jungle (seriously! 4 ft already!) he said "watch out" and evidently I'd just stepped over a worm snake in my flip flops and shorts. I grabbed up Kitty (she's blind in one eye and I don't trust her to see a snake in time) and quietly freaked out.

Dawn, I told Mike that you always mention snakes, and wearing long pants and closed toe shoes in the garden and not going into the garden at certain times (perhaps 8:30pm on a sunny warm night is one?!!!?) but I'd thought I was safe in suburbia. Whoa!

Here is a link that might be useful: worm snake


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: First Snake EVER!

You have my sympathy! My prayer life greatly increases during garden season. Every time I go out I pray "Please don't let there be any snakes. Please don't let there be any snakes." I'm afraid if I ever ran into one it would be the end of my gardening.


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RE: First Snake EVER!

I picked up a night crawler the other day that was about a foot long and my DH thought I was holding a snake. LOL


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RE: First Snake EVER!

Mia,

You have my sympathy. I hate encountering snakes, and am almost always inside before dark to avoid them since they are largely nocturnal. When I stay out in the garden until it is too dark to see the snakes, which I sometimes do in planting season, I always chastise myself afterwards and say I won't do it again.

I don't know that anyone anywhere is safe from snakes. In our old neighborhood in Fort Worth, we used to see copperheads, and it was a surburban community that was built in the early through mid-1940s. We also had an occasional possum or fox. I think wildlife finds ways to adapt to living around humans a lot more than we realize.

I've only had four snakes in the garden so far this year, all non-venomous so it hasn't been too bad yet. Of course, it is only mid-May.

I don't mind the Rough Green Tree Snakes too much. I actually think they are kind of pretty. However, I sure don't like anything venomous, and we tend to have lots of copperheads, pygmy rattlers, western Diamondback Rattlers and Timber Rattlers which keeps me on my toes. We also have an occasional chicken snake, which we kill if it is in the chicken coop for rather obvious reasons. I hate, hate, hate the big black rat snakes. They can take out a whole bunch of little chickens or keats in minutes if they get into the fenced chicken run or into the chicken coop.

Patty, Hey, that's a prayer I recite as well!

Carol, The last snake I saw was so small that I was hoping it was a big old nightcrawler, but it wasn't. I had three boards lying on the ground and needed to pick them up. I picked up the first two and put them where they belonged. No problem. I looked at that third board and knew there would be a snake under it. There was. Luckily for me, it scooted off under a row of tomato plants. I have avoided that row ever since, even though it has been several days and I am pretty sure it is not still there.

Snakes are just about my least favorite thing about living in the country.

We have a pest lurking around here that is worse than the snakes. Our neighbor spotted a feral hog near our back property line a couple of days ago. By the time he got inside and came back out with a gun, it was gone. We've had feral hogs on the property before, but they never came closer to the house than a couple hundred feet. I hope the one our neighbor spotted was just passing through and not planning to stick around. There's not a fence on our property that will stop a feral hog. They tear up yard and gardens and just destroy everything.

If there was such a thing as snake-proof fencing, that's something I'd invest in!

Dawn


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RE: First Snake EVER!

I found two in my garden earlier this spring, under a layer of cardboard, and in a large tub when I dumped out the soil. Small snakes, about 10-12" long. Both were innocuous, and I like having them in the garden, knowing they are dining on pests.

They don't really frighten me, as much as they "startle" me when I see them because I'm not expecting it. I do sometimes see them in the evening right about twilight time, crossing the sidewalk. They are much more scared of me than I could ever be of them as they quickly scurry in the other direction away from me.

Now, if I saw what Dawn sees - the nasty, huge, poisonous variety, I'd be scared loopy! Dawn, you simply must keep all those noxious things down South of the City, lol!

Susan


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RE: First Snake EVER!

Eeeek!!!! I found a snake skin in my yard this weekend. Still startling but not as scary as one that's moving...


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We've seen several snakes this season. There are a couple garter snakes living in the garden, one over 3 ft this year. And twice I uncovered a Scarlet King digging chips from the pile. Have seen a couple worm snakes and a couple ringnecks and last week I saw a green snake in the top of a 7 ft tall mockorange.

But the one that really startled me was the 5 ft long black chicken snake aka rat snake that was crawling along the base of the underpinning of the trailer by the back step that startled us as we came home last Thurs aft. He was startled too and quickly disappeared through a hole under the trailer. Because we have month old chicks in a pen and shed that is NOT snake proof, we worried about it. The next morning DH opened the back door to look on the ground for it and it wiggled a foot from his face. It was crawling up the door frame (over 9 feet off the ground) heading for the phoebe nest under the overhang. He slipped outside, grabbed a length of tree branch that was under a tree and knocked it down and tried to kill it. I brought the earth fork and he finished it off. I HATE these snakes. A couple years ago one destroyed a nest of baby bluebirds twice before we got it. If they would only eat mice, rats, gophers they could live here, but they don't.


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I was turning compost earlier this spring with a pitchfork and managed to pick up a snake and turn it back into the pile before realizing what happened. He immediately popped back out and took off. I guess he liked snuggling in the nice warm compost! Harmless garter so I told him to go forth and prosper.... :)


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RE: First Snake EVER!

Dorothy,

It took me years of nagging Tim to get him to accept that the black snakes are too deadly to poultry and native birds to keep around, even though they are great for controlling rodents. He liked to catch the black rat snakes and the patterned chicken snakes when they were in the chicken coop and release them "a long way" from the house. I think sometimes they had slithered back to the chicken coop before he had walked back to the house. We had a black snake eat 4 keats one day and when I opened the coop door and saw it lying there, it had its body wrapped around a 5th. I was just beside myself with aggravation. He took that one and released it and it was back the next day. That time he shot it, but by then we had no more baby guineas left. Now he's on board with keeping the coops snake-free, and we depend on the cats to control the rodents.

jdlaugh, I never turn my compost pile in spring, summer or fall---only in winter. There's just too many snakes hanging around there. Even in winter, I do it early in the morning when it is still very cold so that if I uncover a snake, it is too cold to be moving much. I used to think snake season ran roughly from April through October, but have seen snakes out as late as the last few days in November and as early as February. Sometimes it surprises me to see them out so early in the year.

Yesterday and today I've been working on mulching using bales of old spoiled hay from 2010. Snakes like to lurk between bales, so I have been using the pitchfork to move each bale from the pile to the ground or wheelbarrow and when breaking apart the bales, I'm also very careful. Every year someone who lives close to us has venomous snakes bite a horse, dog or person who's near a stack of baled hay. It has made me ultra-conscious of safety, especially since some of the dogs have died after being bitten.

We have one dog who survived being bitten in the face by a timber rattler. After that, he detoured around the spot where the bite occurred for at least a year, and every time he saw a black water hose, he thought it was a snake.

Our cats do a really great job on rodent control and we've never had a snake come into our house, as far as we know. At this time of year, you wouldn't believe how many people in the town nearest us have snakes getting into their homes. We listen to the calls on the radio for Animal Control and/or police officers to come bring a snake out of a house. Sometimes those snakes are exterminated with extreme prejudice. I think the folks in town need some cats!

Because we allow our poultry out of the fenced, roofed chicken run to free-range almost every day, I don't like seeing hawks lurking around. However, the hawks sometimes swoop down and snag themselves a snake, so even they are helpful at times.

Dawn


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When I was a kid back on the farm, we had a black snake stealing eggs from the chicken coop. Our grandmother loaned my dad some stone eggs that looked just like the real thing. We put them in the nests and the hens sat on them until they were all nice and warm. The snake swallowed one whole and then got stuck in a crack when he tried to leave the hen house. Needless to say he met a sad end and died with a belly ache!


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In the early 2000s,we had some of those plastic dummy eggs in the hens' nests to 'train' the fairly young hens to lay the eggs there, instead of laying the eggs off in the woods or pasture while free-ranging during the day. One morning, I found several of the dummy eggs in the yard and was puzzled for a minute. Then I figured out that a snake must have swallowed them whole and then regurgitated them when it couldn't digest them. We didn't have any more egg thefts the rest of that year.


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My grandfather used glass doorknobs and then cut holes in the wooden partitions between the nests--smaller than the doorknobs. With a snake strung out between 3 or 4 nests with a doorknob in each nest in the snake's belly, it was one trapped snake--and a real mess to extricate him.


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I have a cailifornia king snake in the dining room (in a cage) and having him around keeps me used to seeing snakes. When I see one outside occasonally I'm not so startled. Still very careful around all snakes though, even my pet.


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RE: First Snake EVER!

You guys are freaking me out! I've only see one snake since moving here in 2006, and it was a tiny garter snake who had found its way into our garage. I haven't seen anything at all in the garden yet aside from bugs and one baby toad hiding in the mulch. I have some boards laying around on the ground, too, and now I'm afraid of picking them up!


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Once upon a time snakes used to be my favorite pets. I got much interested about snakes when I was studying the course wildlife conservation during my graduation. I used to catch them, put them in glass cage and write detail description, habit and habitat, poisonous and non-poisonous, etc, place them in center porch of the collage main entrance for few days then leave them in near by forest. Main idea was to bring awareness about the people killing some of the rare, endangered, threatened sps of non-poisonous snakes. I also did snakes awareness week at schools during environmental day. Fortunately or Unfortunately I not sighted a single snake in our backyard so far. I am bit worried about the compost though.

very funny picture...

-Chandra


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RE: First Snake EVER!

Heather, I don't know how rural anyone else's locations are, but I see so many because we are really rural area in a bend of the Red River with the river just a stone's throw from our back (western) property line. We're heavily wooded, have severals creeks, several ponds, some springs and a swamp. We also have the Red River to our south and east as well, so that we get oodles of wildlife 'just passing through' from one Wildlife Management Area (or fallow farm) to another. It is likely most of you will never see as many snakes as I do. At least that's what I hope!

TODAY'S SNAKE STORY #1: Today I picked up a little brown snake. Well, not deliberately. I was mulching the watermelons and picked up a handful of loose hay from the wheelbarrow, and there was a little brown snake in my gloved hand with the hay. I dropped it all back into the wheelbarrow when I saw the snake. Y'all would have been proud. I didn't scream and run, or anything. I did look very closely at it to make sure it was nonvenomous and then tipped the wheelbarrow on its side so it could slither away.

TODAY'S SNAKE STORY #2: We returned home from a grassfire earlier this afternoon and saw a circular cluster of cats sitting underneath an oak tree in the backyard. They looked like a bunch of Cub Scouts sitting around a campfire. I told Tim "they probably have a vole, a bird or a snake". When we walked up to the cats, they had a 3' long racer snake curled up there in the center of their circle. We scolded the cats for playing with snakes, and Tim picked up the poor thing and released it some distance away.

There better not be a third snake story today because at some point my luck is going to run out and there will be a venomous one.


Dawn


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RE: First Snake EVER!

Open toed shoes are fine with worm snakes and ringneck snakes. I'd consider wearing closed toed shoes only because the presence of worm snakes means you could also have the potential for other kinds of snakes. But worm snakes themselves are as completely harmless as worms.


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RE: First Snake EVER!

Chandra, what kind of snake is that? I know it's not one of the venomous ones we have here.


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Dawn, your days are always so entertaining to read about :) Is it bad that I am glad you have the snakes and I don't? Sorry :)

Lisa


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Lisa,

You know, every now and then nothing happens here. : )

It isn't bad that you're glad we have the snakes and you don't.

We knew when we moved to an area that was this rural and this close to the wildlands around the Red River that snakes definitely were a part of the deal. I just try to stay out of the way of the venomous ones.

Today, no snakes, but fire instead, and it was on the place catty-corner across the road from us. This is a tough month. Between the lack of rainfall, the hot temps, and all the fires, I feel like it is mid-July instead of mid-May. That cannot be a good thing.

Dawn


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RE: First Snake EVER!

Carol, that is Indian rat snake. it is non-poisonous, it prefer habitat around the settlements due to rodents. But people kills this snake (many other harmless) thinking every snake is poisonous and deadly. -Chandra


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RE: First Snake EVER!

OK, Chandra, that photo is freaking me out!! What are some tips for a non-snake person to tell which are poisonous and which are not? This one was so tiny, and it wasn't rearing its head back like a baby cobra or anything, so we didn't do anything. I don't know what we would do even if we found a poisonous snake. Don't think I could convince DH to get close enough with a shovel to try and whack it or what. We're more likely to go hide in our house and hope it goes away.

In this case, I went inside ad googled "snake that looks like a worm" and immediately the matching snake popped up.


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RE: First Snake EVER!

Poisonous snakes tend to have a triangle shaped head while non-poisonous are more teardrop shaped. I think the pupils are slits for poisonous and round for non. But those are things I heard long ago and may not be true.


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If I am close enough to see the whites of their eyes... it may not matter if I can tell the difference since I will have fainted by then.


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Mia,

For what it is worth, even when we have inadvertently stepped on venomous snakes, they haven't struck us. And, you know, they certainly could have done so if they wanted to. Either we have some really nice, passive venomous snakes, or we have the luck of the Irish. I've had a pygmy rattler 2 or 3" from my hand and it didn't strike at me, which sort of surprised me.

Most people here that I know who have been bitten were bitten by copperheads. Because of their markings, copperheads are pretty easy to spot. They're the ones I'm most likely to see while mowing, especially any place where there is an edge habitat--like in the areas where the grassy pastures meet up with the edge of the woodland.

This year I am mostly just seeing harmless little brown snakes and I can handle that.

I am not a real country woman. I am a late-blooming not-quite-country woman who was a city woman for the first 39 years of her life. Know how to tell the difference? The real country women here just pick up a hoe and chop a copperhead to death when they find it on their porch or in their garage or whatever and they go right on chit-chatting with you while they're doing it. I would not willingly stand close enough to a copperhead to chop it up myself unless I had a hoe with a 10' long handle. Other than the snake thing, I make a pretty good country woman, but show me a snake and I start wondering if we should move back to the city. : )

The Ardmore-based Noble Foundation has a webpage on their site that shows the venomous snakes of Oklahoma. I'll link it for you. It has photos that give you a pretty good idea of what to look for. However, I've learned that many non-venomous snakes look a lot like some of the venomous ones, and many snakes, not just rattlers, rattle their tails.

For me, the obvious clues to the venomous snakes here are their broader heads and also the pits that give the pit vipers their name.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Snake Info From The Noble Foundation


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Our neighbor said his wife and daughter had been trying to swim down by the boat ramp and they were seeing so many snakes that they were afraid to stay in the water. I was down there yesterday when I walked the dog, but didn't see any. The day we were pulling the boat out, I could see heads popping up here and there, but we were getting light rain and I thought I was seeing turtles. Al asked me if I was sure it wasn't snakes. I don't think I will be swimming there, and I will also be more careful when we are loading or unloading. I never see them in my yard, so I hope they are all happy to stay down around the water.


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Thanks for the link, Dawn, I will take a look. We are city-slickers to the bone, and would just fervently pray the snakes move along somewhere. The area by my veggie garden (where worm snake showed himself) is right near a long patch of scrubby volunteer tree thickets that were not cared for by the previous owner and is now overrun with honeysuckle and weeds. As we get that cleared out and converted back to grass, hopefully the jungle-ish snakes will go away.

We are going to a friend's cabin at Lake Murray over the holiday weekend and the people at my office are scaring me with tales of massive quantities of snakes roiled into a ball in the water, and how when you water ski you better hope you don't go through a ball of snakes. EEEP! Will be staying in the boat.


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Mia, you are cracking me up! That roiling ball of snakes was quite a visual! :) Your post reminded me of something I hadn't thought about in years. I'm from Canada, where the occasional harmless garter snake is as bad as it gets (no venomous snakes or spiders up there, at least not where I grew up in Northwestern Ontario). One time a few years after I moved down here we were waterskiing in Georgia. I don't remember the name of the lake, but it was filled with piles of dead trees. As we were launching the boat, some of the locals told us that you could easily tell the poisonous snakes in the water as they held their heads up above the surface (I have no idea if that is actually true - my thought is, why would you want to get into the water if there were snakes at all??) They also mentioned alligator garr that were 'only near the river mouth'. I was like "alligator what??!" My husband explained that they were fish that looked like alligators but didn't 'usually' attack humans. The guys were determined to waterski despite my misgivings, and insisted that I join the 'fun', threatening to throw me overboard if I didn't stop being such a scaredy cat. I learned to waterski on one ski in that lake - sheer terror is a great incentive. I was determined that I was spending as little time in that water as possible - I didn't care if I had to learn to fly!

I read about snakes in the garden on this forum, and I just assumed that I had little to worry about here in suburbia, but this post shows that I was wrong in that assumption! I was digging potatoes this morning in my nice fluffy soil (I worked in a LOT of peat moss this spring) and suddenly a huge, yellowish-brown thing seemed to erupt from the soil where I was digging with my hand trowel. I of course screamed and leaped back, thinking if that was a snake it was huge because the part I saw was several inches around. Thank goodness it was just a very bloated toad who had apparently burrowed way down into my soil for a nap. Whew! Once I recovered, I caught him and moved him to another part of my garden as I certainly want to keep him around. I was laughing at myself for overreacting, and thinking that this is actually a positive because, not only does he eat bugs, but it shows how much my soil has improved. Last year he would have needed a jackhammer to burrow into the soil lol!


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Carol, We've always had tons of water snakes here, but 99% of the time they are non-venomous. Our dog, Biscuit, used to love to swim in the big pond, and often there would be non-venomous snakes swimming in there at the same time and they never bothered him. He ignored them as well.

Mia, We have spent a fair amount of time at Lake Murray, and I've never seen a snake in the water there. I'm not saying they aren't there--just that I don't think they are there in large numbers most of the time.

When a Water Moccasin is swimming, you see his head and much of his body pretty much on the surface of the water. When non-venomous snakes swim, you only see their head and a smaller portion of their body--never more than half of it. Hope that info is helpful if you find yourself surrounded by snakes while waterskiing.

Canokie, For me, one of the natural signs that indicate the spproach of spring is when I dig up the first toad, which in my garden usually happens in February when I'm preparing to plant onions and potatoes. I don't usually dig up snakes until April or so.

Dawn


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Chandra, don't read this. Dh and I found another 5 ft long black snake just 4 days after killing the first one of the season. I got the gun but the 7 mo old pup wouldn't stay out of the way so DH could get a clear shot, so I picked up a couple softball-sized rocks and smashed in his head. We lived here for over 20 years seeing all kinds of snakes--once a 4&1/2 ft timber rattler which was as big around as my thigh--and killing one or more copperheads every year but for over 20 years not seeing a black rat aka chicken snake. Then 5 years ago they found us and since we have killed at least two each summer and one summer three. I think they must leave a scent trail that other members of the species follow into a place, not knowing that it is a dangerous place to live.

And like Dawn I have come close to copperheads and they didn't strike, but I knew a woman years ago who stepped on one and it bit her ankle. She ended up in the hospital with an ankle as big as her thigh.

I was in a creek with a cousin when I was 15 when he hollered, "Get out of the water, right now!" I ran for the bank and he showed me a large snake moving through the water with it's mouth open and the white interior showing. "That there's a cottonmouth," (aka water moccasin)he said. And as Dawn said, his head was well out of the water held above a length of neck and body. He said it didn't want us where we were and was meaning to scare us off. It succeeded.


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AAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you all hear me shrieking through the interwebs?


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RE: First Snake EVER!

Dorothy,

We have huge timber rattlers like that here on our property and they scare me to death. Once somebody ran over one and killed it in the road right by our mailbox. All day long people stopped to look at the huge size of that sucker, and you could even hear them hollering comments (I was in the garden 100' away from the road) like "Dang! That's a big snake!" Finally someone stopped and picked it up. They asked if I minded if they took it. Ha! I was tired of looking at it and was glad to see it go.

Last year we came back from a fire on a 110 or 112 degree day when not a creature was stirring in the head and found a big timber rattler lying in the driveway. I guess it was sunning itself, and I said to Tim "Is it not hot enough for that thing without the reflected heat from the driveway?" Due to its proximity to the house, he was going to shoot it but by the time we parked and were out of the car it had disappeared.

We have an unpleasant encounter with a big timber rattler the size of the one you described at least twice a year, and sometimes 4 or 5 times a year. There is a dense woodland between our house and the nearest house to our south, and the timber rattlers always seem to come out of that area. Although we have western diamondback rattlers and copperheads in the garden fairly often, I've never seen a timber rattler there and I think it is because the holes in the fence are too small for them to squeeze through. And, for whatever reason, I most often encounter pygmy rattlers in one specific area of the woodland and rarely see them any place else. I have a long list in my brain of areas coded "do not enter" in summertime because of frequent snake encounters in those areas. The farther west you go from our house and towards the river, the heavier the snake population. The far back part of the property near the western fence line is so full of copperheads that I do not go back there for any reason whatsoever during snake season.

Our next-door neighbor was bitten on or near her ankle by a copperhead a few years ago. She got immediate medical attention but had a lot of trouble with her leg for quite some time. She couldn't walk and had to be in a wheelchair for maybe a month. It does seem like the swelling lasted a long time.

I know that snakes are an important part of the ecosystem and we'd be overrun with rodents were it not for the snakes, but I hate it when they are lurking in the yard or garden. We try to keep the area up around the house, garage, and gardens snake-free, but ignore the ones that roam the rest of our acreage. We have 14.4 acres and we don't shoot snakes on roughly 13 of those acres. However, despite the fact that they control rodents and are very helpful in that regard, I still don't like them and never will.

Dawn


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