Snake on a Plain

June 3, 2012

We had quite an interesting day on Saturday, thanks in large part to this fellow:


That is something called a gopher snake. I didn’t know it at the time of “the incident,” and couldn’t see its tail buried in the grass of our backyard, so as far as I knew, it was a rattlesnake or some other dangerous cretin that was invading our property. Ergo, I had no choice but to dispose of it violently. (You can see some of the damage down near its head.)

It all began at about 7:30 am when Sparky’s incessant barking woke me (and Cari) up. He barks quite regularly in the morning, especially since construction crews usually arrive around that time to continue working on the 3-4 houses that are being built near us. So, at first, we didn’t think anything of it and just tried going back to sleep.

But he kept barking. And barking. And barking.

I noticed, too, that it wasn’t the normal Hey, human, I see you across the street! Stay away! I’m a dangerous and scary dog!” bark. It was much more focused and urgent, almost rapid-fire barking.

I looked out the window and he was down near the back of the property, not a usual place for barking. So, I groggily put on shorts and sandals and walked out back. As soon as I saw him, and he saw me, I knew something was up. He was on high alert.

My vision was still blurry from sleep as I slowly walked close to him. He was barking at something on the ground and sticking his paw out. The grass was high — we were planning to cut it later in the day — so I couldn’t see much. I got close enough to see about 5-6 inches of what was pretty clearly a snake.

Shite. Not my favorite animal.

I knew we’d eventually have a snake encounter since we built a house in what was previously wide open plains — plains that were still completely wide open on the other side of our fence. I just hoped that the snake encounter would happen when I was awake.

Back Story: 10 Years Ago

About 10-12 years ago, I think, we had a snake encounter at our old house — which was really odd because it was nowhere near the plains. I had gone out into our front yard and was working on my knees when I noticed a huge snake about 8-10 feet away from me. Scared the bejeezus out of me and, not knowing what to do, I cautiously went back inside and called animal control.

Problem is that this was late on a Friday or Saturday afternoon, as I recall, and they were nowhere to be found. I kept an eye on the snake from various rooms/windows inside as it crawled all around the front of our house, eventually stopping about 6-8 feet from our front door in a rock bed.

The city police eventually showed up and, after getting a pillow case and rake from us, they stoically collected the snake, wrapped him in the pillow case, and drove off to deliver him back to … the plains.

I remember them telling me that, if another snake ever paid us a visit, I could probably kill it by using a shovel and chopping its head off.

Back to Yesterday

I’ve never forgotten that piece of wisdom. So, I went and grabbed my shovel and headed to the back yard again. Figured I could take care of this one myself since the snake seemed to be a bit smaller than 10 years ago.

The dog had been barking this whole time and the snake had moved a bit since I first saw it. Lucky for me, I could see its head clearly. Still couldn’t see the tail, so I didn’t know what it was. Also didn’t know how long/big it was, but the head was kinda small, so that was good.

I’ll spare you the details other than to say that it was about 2.5, maybe 3 feet long and, thankfully, didn’t have a rattle at the end of its tail. I showed it to the whole family so that they’d know what to look for in the future and we took the photo above on our back patio.

Whew. Never a dull moment living out in the country, is there?

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