Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bull snakes

We have several on the place. I don't bother them and encourage Emma to leave them alone. They say that bull snakes will keep rattlers away. I don't know if that's really true, but since the bull snakes definitely help with the rodent population I kind of like having them around.

Here's something I wrote about a bull snake incident two years ago...

A little prairie drama this morning. I was in the office with the dogs when there was a lot of bird scolding going on outside. I looked out the window and saw a baby robin bouncing around in the dog pen. 

In one corner of the dogs' pen is a lovely spreading cedar tree that gives them deep shade all day long. Unfortunately a robin built her nest in that tree and the nest has been a center-of-interest for Emma, my bird dog, for weeks. Fortunately the dogs were inside when the baby decided to go walk-about.

I went out to move the baby to a safer spot but couldn't find it. Just as I was leaving the pen I saw the big bull snake, about 4-feet long, just outside the pen. He slithered in through the wire for a bit and then out again. The mother robin was a few feet away and keeping an angry eye on him. When he turned around and headed in the opposite direction, she really let him have it: scolding, flying at him, beating at him with her wings. As I rounded the corner of the house I saw why: the baby was there, right out in the open, and the snake was heading right for it.

I scooped up the chick. The mother, three feet away, completely ignored me as she was busy beating up on the snake, which outweighed her by about forty times. I took the baby to the other side of the house into my little patch of woods and put it in near a pile of dead limbs. When I went back to see how the fight was going, Mom had forced the snake into a clump of brush near my well and was standing guard in one of the branches.

Later I went back to the brush pile to check, but the baby was gone. I hope the mom found it, but at least I had done my part in interfering with the natural cycle of nature's way.

But they are aggressive critters. The other day one was near my shooting backstop and I touched his tail with a cardboard target backer. He turned on me, reared up like a cobra, and prepared to attack me. I backed off, having no desire to be bitten by any kind of snake, even a non-poisonous one. Besides, he was minding his own business and I had interfered with him.

The photograph is not very good, but shows one I almost stepped on today while on the way to my pistol range. He was between three and three-and-a-half feet long. (That 10-yard marker is about 14" long.) I think this is the same fellow I saw at the target butt the other day. I would like to have gotten a better picture but by the time I went in to get the camera he had decided to high-tail it for some high grass. Can't say I blame him, what with a snake-killing Shorthair on the prowl.


Anonymous said...

I detest snakes, and even those that are not poisonous get short shrift from me. They can give a dog a bad a bad sore on the face even without venom.

Jason Plett said...

As a boy I was excercising my dog and saw a strange site near a fence on our property. I moved in for a better look. A large bull snake was taking a small rabbit, and the rabbit was fighting his demise. That was one of the most impactful scenes that I have seen in my life, much more than hunting with my rifle.