Snakes – some background

Recently I posted a picture of a snake that Tim had accidentally run over with the mower. In this post I asked for help identifying the snake. I received some really helpful comments, but also heard from one angry commenter. The person was angry because he/she thought that we had deliberately killed the snake. The issue was resolved, but I would still like to give a little background into the snakes on our farm, as well as sharing what I have learned about snakes in the process. I want to do this both to clarify my stance and to possibly educate others about the benefits of snakes.

First, I have to confess that I never thought about snakes in Illinois before we moved. I knew there were harmless garter snakes here, but I honestly thought that when we left Arizona we left snakes and coyotes behind. How wrong I was! I’ve written about the snake Aidan found and in that post talked a little about the snake that Farmer Clayton found. Farmer Clayton’s opinion was is, “the only good snake is a dead snake.” I wasn’t sure I agreed, but I was nervous about the possibility of poisonous snakes being in our yard, especially with barefoot country kids running around.

A couple of days after Farmer Clayton found the snake under the stump, Scott the Farmer asked me if we wanted to kill snakes. He said he usually just moves them. At that point I didn’t know what to think or to say. I knew that I didn’t want to be worried about poisonous snakes, but I’m not really into killing things just to kill them (except maybe ticks). Plus, I really trust Scott the Farmer and I figured he knew more about snakes than I did, since I barely knew anything at the time. I didn’t really answer Scott the Farmer and I didn’t think much about snakes for a while.

Then a couple weeks later, Aidan found another snake. That’s when I wrote the post Aidan finds a snake. Tim caught the snake and gave it to Scott the Farmer to relocate it. We thought that one was a copperhead, but now I doubt that it was. We’ve seen other snakes, too, such as garter snakes and some kind of silvery snake near the garden. One of the silvery looking snakes got in the chicken coop once. Needless to say, that didn’t end well for the snake.

Anyway, fast forward a month or two and we went to the local library to see the Snakeman, aka Gary Liesen, of Quincy, Illinois. I learned a lot about snakes that day, and more importantly, so did Moira, who was fascinated by them! She kept “going to the bathroom” because in order to get to the bathroom, she had to climb under the table where the snakes were (some preserved in bottles). It was really cute. A few weeks later we found a snake book at the library. It’s for kindergarteners and has a few words, plus pictures and labels at the end. Moira loves that book. She loves it so much that when we were in Phoenix and she wasn’t feeling well, she would plead for me to read that book to her. In fact, it’s way overdue and we should probably just buy a new one to replace the library’s copy.

Anyway, that book has been terrific. We know what a lot of snakes look like now, plus it inspired us to look up more information about snakes. We’ve read and watched videos about flying snakes, anacondas, boomslangs, sidewinders, and more. What we’ve learned in the process is another post entirely, but suffice it to say that my initial worry is pretty much unfounded and we definitely will not be killing snakes on this farm, unless we are in imminent danger. I will write more about snakes, but in the meantime I leave you with this really cool video about flying snakes (which are not found in Illinois in case you were wondering!).

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9 Responses to “Snakes – some background”

  1. Paul Wald Says:

    I don’t know about relocating copper-heads! Black and Garter snakes wouldn’t concern me much. I don’t care what people think, poisonous snakes are doomed if they get close to my house!

    • hippygirl Says:

      yeah, i’d like to think i would relocate a copperhead, but who knows. ideally i would relocate it, but it totally depends on the situation and whether anyone is in danger of being harmed. and it might not be me personally who relocated it. haha.

  2. What I’ve learned about snakes « A Hippy Girl in the Country Says:

    […] A Hippy Girl in the Country chickens, gardening, and striving for sustainable living. « Snakes – some background […]

  3. John Says:

    Nice site – Here’s wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year !

  4. JoJo Says:

    Like what you did. Here’s wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year !

  5. JoJo Says:

    Nice site – Like what you did. Wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year !

  6. snake Buddie Says:

    Another great snake post. Personally, I believe there are very few instances that constitute killing a snake. Many more people are bitten trying to kill them, than those who either let them slither on their way, or safely relocate them. It’s important to remember that snakes are in your yard for a reason, and to consider what the impact might be of removing them. (i.e. more rodents) – If you need any help with snake ID’s or information, don’t hesitate to ask!!!

    Your resident Snake Buddy,

    Jamison

    • hippygirl Says:

      Thanks so much! My most recent post, which really isn’t all that recent, has a snake we couldn’t identify. My best guess is that it is a bull snake, though. I subscribed to your site and the post about pet snakes is great! I’ll have to explore it more later. My little girl is torn between wanting a puppy and a snake! 🙂

  7. snake Buddie Says:

    Thanks for subscribing! I think I replied to that ID post as well. Your unidentified snake is a juvenile Racer. They lose their pattern as they age, and generally turn a solid gray to black color depending on subspecies. They are 100% harmless, but aren’t too shy about biting if they get picked up. They are great mousers though! 🙂

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