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Monday, April 22, 2019
Snakes in the Neighborhood
This morning I heard my neighbor frantically trying to discipline her dog. I glanced over the fence and saw that the young husky had a huge king snake in her mouth. I was shocked at the circumference of it. The puppy was tossing it around joyfully. There was blood dripping down from its body. I asked the woman if she needed help, and offered to get a shovel. She thanked me, but declined. The snake died. The dog had already chewed its tail and pierced its body, and she didn't get there in time.
I don't know why my first instinct was to kill it. My mind flashed back to a scene of my uncle "protecting us" when I was a child. They had found a huge snake coiled in a corner of in their Southern California backyard. He cut off its head with a shovel. In retrospect, I realize that we should have just left it. Snakes kill numerous rodents. They keep the population of rats, mice, gophers, and other burrowers under control. We can really use their help, as gardeners. For some reason, many people are petrified of snakes. We treat them like wild animals that will attack and kill us. This is a false belief, although rattlers can be dangerous. I have gone by one on horseback, and it didn't react to our group. We stayed calm and quiet.
While walking Lula this afternoon, another neighbor told me that his wife had seen three rattlesnakes in their backyard in the past two days! They need to bask in the sun as they digest their food. He has two small children, so he has been catching the rattlesnakes with a noose, and taking them to the Placerita Nature Center.
So far, I haven't see any around here. I am glad that I have been religiously digging up all of the weeds in my backyard. Snakes like to hide in the tall grass, and we've had a tremendous amount of rain this season. They are generally beneficial, and I need to remember that in the future. Do you have any where you live?
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