Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

How to Handle a Snake


oak.snakeYesterday, as Dottie was giving me my afternoon walk, we came upon one of these. It’s an Oak snake – not poisonous.  I saw it before she did – when we were a good fifteen feet away from it – so I proceeded to guide her to the other side of the street.  About the time I started to pull her that way the snake saw us.  It raise it’s head up and coiled a bit.  Dottie staged a sit in and began to whine when the snake slithered away and I didn’t let her follow.

“Come on, Dottie,” I called to her.  Hesitatingly, she did, stopping every few seconds to turn around and get another look.

I don’t like snakes.  There a various and sundry theories of how to tell a poisonous[scary] snake from a non-poisonous[good] snake.  Most of them involve getting close enough to see the size and shape of it’s head.  I’m not interested unless I have some killing tool in my hand.  I didn’t have any such tool at my disposal at the time.

TheBrit likes the live and let live approach.  He’d get close enough to see whether he thinks it’s poisonous or not.  Either way he wouldn’t kill it unless he felt threatened.  My feelings on the matter are that the only good snake is a dead one, but I haven’t had to kill many.

“If it’s not hurting me I’m not going to kill it,” he says.

“That snake might not hurt me, but it will damn sure make me hurt myself!” I say.

That wasn’t the first snake of the day.  Dottie and I encountered a much smaller one on our morning walk.  It’s hot here and the snakes are on the move.

So are the alligators.  We live in a neighborhood situated between several large lakes and they move from one to another.  Dottie would be a small snack for one of those things.   A neighbor down the street has lost two dogs to alligators.  Her house backs up to the lake.  Mine doesn’t. I’m good with that.  Thankfully I haven’t seen one and hopefully I won’t.

I’m reticent about letting Dottie just go trudging into the shrubbery because of the aforementioned snakes and alligators but last night on our night-time walk she poked her head into the shrubs and flushed out a baby opossum. Adult opossums are kind of…unattractive. But the baby ones are sort of cute(ish).

baby possumDottie was ready to play.  She hopped over to the baby opossum and started to bark.  The baby opossum did what baby opossums do.  It played dead. Didn’t move a muscle.  Dottie barked, and growled, and howled. Still no movement. Yawn.  It’s not much fun to play with something that won’t play back.

45 thoughts on “How to Handle a Snake

  1. That snake picture sent shivers down my spine.

    My parents live in Arizona, and they’ve had a few close encounters with rattlesnakes. Luckily, they have the same philosophy you do about leaving snakes alone so no one has ever been bitten.


    • I really don’t care if they’re poisonous or not, I don’t like ’em. That one was down the street a pretty good ways from my house. Had it been at my house either a) I would’ve killed it or b) TheBrit would’ve taken it down the street a pretty good ways.

      I’m not afraid of snakes I can see so much as ones I can’t. As in, if I see the snake and then it slithers away and I now don’t know where it is. Not good.


  2. Snakes and alligators? Have you considered moving?

    I have encountered opossums in the past. My wife, when we lived in Massachusetts, used to put out cat food for the strays and at night, if we forgot to take it in, three or four opossums would waddle onto our porch and start feasting on the cat food. I would open the door to chase them away, but these opossums did not play dead. In fact, they seemed totally unperturbed by my efforts to shoo them off and actually got fairly aggressive toward me. So I shut the door and played dead.


    • Haha! I’ve lived here all my life. Snakes, alligators and creepy crawlies of most every kind just come with the territory. Having said that, I still don’t care for them.

      Did those opossums have rabies or something?!?


      • I don’t know if they had rabies, but they sure seemed mad when I tried to chase them away!


        • Don’t get between a wild animal and it’s food source! I’ve heard of raccoons and possums eating cat food that’s been left out, but never getting aggressive. They usually scatter when humans come near.


          • That’s pretty much what the raccoons did when I caught them eating the cat food…they scattered. But those opossums were undeterred by my presence.


          • I would not count on that, Ruth. Possums and raccoons can be very aggressive. And skunks. I have had nasty encounters with all these animals at one time or another. Bottom line – don’t mess with them during meal time!


          • Hmm…I’ll keep that in mind. It’s usually pretty good advice to keep your distance with wild animals anyway.

            My experience has been that when the lights flip on the raccoons and possums tend to scatter, but I guess that depends on how hungry they are.


  3. Snakes and rats in Spain. All good prey for hunting dogs. Poor old Podenco is making do with shredding a shoe right now. Earlier it was a book. He could use a possum or a snake I’m sure.

    Where’s the pic of Dottie?!


    • Well the kind of snake in the above picture eats rats and the like. I hope that’s not a good pair of shoes Podenco is munching on. Dottie’s managed to eat the toe out of one of TheBrit’s yard-work shoes and a pair of flip-flops.

      I’ll rectify the Dottie-pic situation tomorrow! TheBrit took some good ones of her this week.


  4. Snakes are fine. It’s dirty great big spiders that freak me out.


    • I’m not a big fan of things that crawl or slither. I know that lizards and frogs eat bugs but I don’t really want to hold them. I also know that most spiders aren’t poisonous, but I go ape-shit if one gets on me. *shudder*

      When we first bought our house last summer TheBrit and I were down there showing some of my family the place. He saw a bloody huge brown furry spider and decided he wanted to pick it up. So I say, “You really don’t want to be messing with that. Put him down.”

      We get in the car to head back to our rental place and he says. “Uh-oh.”

      “Uh-oh what?”

      “I think that spider was on me and I brushed at it. I think it went in your handbag.”

      “Bull – you didn’t have that thing in my car.”

      We left it at that and I thought he was just pulling my leg. I forgot all about it.

      A few days later we were driving down the road and talking. He says, “Just keep talking and pay attention to where you’re going.” So I keep talking and looking ahead and he gently reaches over rubs my shoulder. Then he quickly pulls his hand away and lets the window down.

      He says, “Remember I told you I thought that spider went in your handbag? Well, I just took it off your shoulder and put it out the window.”

      I look at him lovingly and say, “It’s a good thing you saw it and I didn’t. I would have wrecked this car and killed us both.”

      I’m not kidding. Things like that may not hurt me, but they will definitely make me hurt myself.


    • Freud might say that’s a very gay comment 😀


  5. I don’t like anything that creeps. But hey, if I see a snake, I will give it a wide berth unless I find it in the house then one of may get hurt


    • A wide berth is definitely what I was giving this fellow. Even though I know they’re more afraid of me than I am of them, it gives me no great comfort.

      When I was a kid I got off the school bus one day and headed inside. My mother was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. There was stick laying on the counter next to her. Reaching for it I say, “Mama, what’s this stick doing in here?” As I reach for it, it moves. “Uh, this isn’t a stick. It’s a snake!”

      She chopped a hole in the kitchen floor with the garden hoe.


  6. That is one stunning snake for sure and I am glad you didn’t have anything nearby to kill it with. Awesome shots of it and the baby possum. What a cutie! 😀

    I would love to see a photo of Dottie as well. 🙂


    • I’d like to take credit for the photos, but as I was walking Dottie I didn’t have the camera handy. Those are free ones off of Google images, but pretty accurate to the real ones I saw.

      I’ll get some pics up of Dottie tomorrow. 😀


  7. I hike and run in the desert almost every other day. I have done this since I was a kid. I have had more close calls with rattlers than I can think of. I don’t provoke them, but they camouflage so well in the desert environment that I nearly step on them only to see them at the last split second. I am with your husband – they are dangerous, but I am not afraid of them and as long as I am out of striking distance, I know I am OK. The only time I have killed rattlesnakes is if I find them in or near the house. They can stay in the desert, but I do not want them making residence too close to me. Otherwise, I think snakes are beautiful animals.


    • Yes, they are beatiful-when they are a good distance from me.

      Does your life flash before your eyes when you have those near death experiences?


      • nah. I am used to them, but Rosemary scolds me for not bringing a phone in case of an emergency. As luck would have it, I just returned from a desert run and saw a small rattler on the trail. I took a photo of it for you


  8. My general sense on How To Handle A Snake is basically, “go the other way”. Most snakes don’t like people. We’re big, we’re violent, and we scare them. Walk away, and they’re as happy as you are. The exception, in my experience, is copperheads. They’re poisonous, and they’ll cheerfully decide to live anywhere, regardless of how much it reeks of human beings. (Rattlesnakes won’t set up shop in your garage. A copperhead will.) They are, as far as I can tell, too stupid to be afraid. So copperheads are the exception, and really should be killed on sight. Fortunately, they’re extremely easy to identify.


    • Yes, yes. We get rattle snakes here. Mostly what I see are these oak snakes and regular garden snakes. Living this close to several water sources makes it a bit tricky though.

      Last summer TheBrit took a picture of a baby snake and sent it to me on my phone. It was in our swimming pool with the caption “should I be playing with this?” My answer was a resounding NO! It looked like a water moccasin. Those are deadly, the baby ones even moreso than the adult ones from what I understand. Not only that – they’re aggressive. They don’t run, they chase.

      Turns out it was something called a water bandit, a non-venomous snake. Why, oh, why does it look so much like a water moccasin? Eeeek!


    • Michael Mock – I beg to differ. Rattlesnakes seem plenty happy camping out in a home, particularly after it starts to turn cold for the season. I remember when I was a boy, opening up the kitchen sink cabinet and got the shock of my life seeing a coiled rattler under the basin, fast asleep! We lived in an abode mud-brick house, plenty of desert critters managed to burrow into our walls for the season – and snakes would eventually find their way in too.


  9. That is way cool! I have no eejy beejys with snakes.But then…I have never seen a snake in the wild!


    • It’s heeby jeebys.

      You don’t have snakes there? I thought snakes were everywhere. But TheBrit says not so much in England. There are only one or two kinds there?

      There are 46 species of snakes found here in Georgia. Only six of them are venomous. That’s enough if you ask me.

      The Georgia DNR puts out this handy dandy brochure:

      Click to access 2013VenomousSnakesBrochure_Online.pdf


      • You have your heeby’s I have my eejy’s. It’s the dyslexia in me 🙂

        Yes, of course, we have snakes in Africa…loads of them. But I have never seen one in Johannesburg.
        It’s a bit like expecting to see one slither along Oxford Road in London!
        We’re not quite out in the sticks y’know….maybe just a bit closer to the Styx. 😉


        • I was quoting Howard Walowitz. I should have credited him. 😀

          Right, I getcha. You might not find a snake at the mall in town, but it wouldn’t be uncommon to find one in your backyard – even in town. Here the snakes don’t seem to see the city limits signs.


          • Yes, I had a sneaking suspicion you were and was going to quote Raj straight back at you. lol.

            I have come across a couple of small scorpions in the garden, never a snake.
            In fact, I don’t know of anyone in my immediate circle who has ever encountered a snake in suburbia, though I’m sure they are around.

            If we can get a Gennet on our property it shouldn’t be far fetched at all to expect we might find a snake.


  10. Great, thanks lot for these type of post.


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