Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ah, (Backyard) Wilderness!

per usual, friday morning i moseyed out to the back yard with the dogs to have a quick cavort and to release the ladies.  pearl and ninja are always glad to see us these days, eager to flop down the ramp for the daily scratchings--and lately there's been an egg-gift waiting for us right off the bat.

this morning, they seemed particularly eager to get the pecking started.  pearl especially tends to be a bit lazy, and might lounge on the hay for awhile before getting down to the business of dust bathing and grub hunting.  but this morning they both hopped down straight away.  i thought nothing of it, and opened up the coop to check for an egg.  instead, i saw:

 a formidable, and beautifully marked, Texas Rat Snake.  i froze for a moment.

now, i am not afraid of snakes. in fact, i live with a lovely amelanistic corn snake.  but this was definitely the biggest snake i'd ever seen not in my terrarium on my dresser.  and it looked pretty TUF.

it wasn't after the chickens, of course, they are (barely!) too big.  it was after those delicious eggs.  since it did not put on a famous rat snake tail shakin' white mouth showin' kinked-up display, and since it even had a rather sated look on its face, i had a pretty good idea where my morning egg went.

after freezing, my next instinct was to grab it.  it's not poisonous, it's just big! and i'll just pick him up, toss him over the fence, no big deal, i've seen the nature show guys do it a thousand times...the snake is watching carefully. i make a move toward it. the snake kinks up a bit.  dan looks at me.

"please...please don't stick your hand in there and try to grab the snake," he says patiently. he reaches for the rake and attempts to spaghetti the snake gently around the tines.  the snake is not having it, and has great snake strength.  after a brief struggle, the snake decides to beat it and...leaps? is an odd choice but...sort of LEAPS down and slithers off, all 5ish feet of him.  so, i guess we saw him off.

thus, an ancient, near-forgotten, oft-repeated conflict plays out in my backyard.  humans modify their environment, and domesticate useful animals.  the environment modification for domestic animals attracts opportunistic wild animals, who recognize a buffet when they see it.  the human must banish the wild predator, as the useful domesticated animals are helpless without human protection.  plus the human wants the eggs for herself.  the human wonders what to do about the snake issue, and begins to brainstorm possible preventative solutions.   but the human has to look at the magnificent reptile with appreciation, and a certain different are we really, that texas rat snake and i?


  1. OK...sadly this is why my eggs come from H.E.B., I will wrangle unruly venomous teenagers, but a harmless snake...uhhh...NO! I am in awe of you!!!!

  2. OMG! I can't believe that snake was just two doors down from us.