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Snakes

 
Tony Thomas
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Location: boise, idaho
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The most prolific product to come from my hugelkultur year after year is snakes. Since we put in our Hill we breed snakes by the hundreds.

This vid inspired me to share my experience.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Jay C. White Cloud
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Yep...at any given time in the summers on our old place we could collect 6 different species minimum and well over 200 animals. As they became more accustom to our presence (and larger) they would not move...you had to put them "out of the way," and watch that they did not turn around and just crawl back over to see what you are digging in. When "tamed" they become very inquisitive (I did also feed many by hand when a "choice morsel" presented itself...so they knew this and would often move toward you...not away. When you really reach a state of balance (homeostasis) on a small permie farm the interaction with other living things is boundless, and ever inspiring...
 
Dale Hodgins
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All reptiles on this island are harmless. Still, I've been startled by some larger garter snakes and alligator lizards. Snakes are living in the hugel beds. On cool nights, they retreat to the depths. In the morning they bask on the south slopes. They eat slugs.
 
Joshua Parke
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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When I put in my hugelkulture, I noticed the gaps/holes opening up as everything settled......then I saw the mice move in and I was annoyed. Then I stepped back and thought about it for a moment and said, "I bet the snakes will love that". Good to hear, Tony, that the snakes are living in the hugelkulture. I've been seeing them around it, and they're becoming less and less skittish around me, it's fun.
 
Sam Boisseau
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Location: PNW, British Columbia
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I noticed more snakes this year, including around the hugel.


I also noticed fewer slugs. WAY fewer slugs.


Then I saw a snake with a black slug in its mouth. And it all made sense.
 
John Elliott
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Most of my snakes have legs.

For a while, I had one large black snake, but he hasn't reappeared after last winter. What rustles in the undergrowth and startles me are the 5-lined skinks, blue tailed skinks, anoles, and the Eastern fence lizards. Maybe it's because I have a small property with small piles of brush and small hugelbeds that I have larger numbers of smaller reptiles. But my observation about slugs is the same, I have way fewer slugs now.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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John E...you live in a paradise for me!!! I just love the south...even the "venomous " folks that claim your region as home. They are some of my favorite and do a heck of a great job protecting the melon patch from the "two legged marauders" of the night...NO ONE messed around in my gardens...just was not a safe thing to do. The lizards alone that you have can do more work in pest control that all the chemicals in the world if they are encouraged and allowed to breed so you have "age stratification" as the neonate little fellows eat all kinds of "really small" food items.

Regards,

j
 
Tina Paxton
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Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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Well, if it was garters or corn snakes, I'd welcome them to my homestead. But, all I've seen here are copperheads. They don't get the welcome sign.

Last year, some feral cats started squatting on my property. No more copperheads. I have tons of toads, though! And treefrogs! lots and lots of treefrogs!

I'm hoping that when I put in a pool or two and some swales, that the skinks will come live here.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Tina,

I am not suggesting that folks promote venomous snakes or other "wee beasties" around there property, yet I will share the following.

These snakes like Agkistrodon, and Crotalid, both can be lived with just as well as other species. Yes you do have to be more careful, but only because of the potential...not the actual elements of having them around. I have asked plenty of folk that will tolerate having snakes around...if they do not touch them...how often these snakes "bite them,"...which is usually never. Venomous snakes are the same way...they do not want to bite....and I would rather have them that a over abundance of feral cats, as the later is not good for the environmental balance of the biome they are in.

Again, I am not saying you "have to" live with these animals...just don't kill them or support those elements (like cats) that do kill them out of the natural context of a normal "prey and predator" relationship. I loved my copperheads, and they never ever offered to bite me or folks I showed them to (when adults). I also had to protect my larger breeding females...as the many hawks I raised and had living on the property also loved them......but in a much different way...which offers the proper control method for the environment...as did my king snakes...
 
Tina Paxton
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Location: coastal southeast North Carolina
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hi Tina,

I am not suggesting that folks promote venomous snakes or other "wee beasties" around there property, yet I will share the following.

These snakes like Agkistrodon, and Crotalid, both can be lived with just as well as other species. Yes you do have to be more careful, but only because of the potential...not the actual elements of having them around. I have asked plenty of folk that will tolerate having snakes around...if they do not touch them...how often these snakes "bite them,"...which is usually never. Venomous snakes are the same way...they do not want to bight....and I would rather have them that a over abundance of feral cats, as the later is not good for the environmental balance of the biome they are in.

Again, I am not saying you "have to" live with these animals...just don't kill them or support those elements (like cats) that do kill them out of the natural context of a normal "prey and predator" relationship. I loved my copperheads, and they never ever offered to bight me or folks I showed them to (when adults). I also had to protect my larger breeding females...as the many hawks I raised and had living on the property also loved them......but in a much different way...which offers the proper control method for the environment...as did my king snakes...


It does sound like you are suggesting folks promote venomous snakes on their property. You are sure welcome to love your copperheads but I prefer not to encourage them here. They DO bite if they feel threatened and simply not seeing them and stepping near them is "threatening" to them.

Also, the ferals have (all but one) gone through the TNR program (Trap, Neuter, Release) and we hope to close the loop soon with that one. A local island thought it wise, a few years back, to clear all feral cats off the island. After they accomplished that task, the rodents and snakes multiplied quite rapidly. It wasn't long before they were begging county animal control and rescues for every cat they could get to take back to the island to become the "community cats".

Cats, like any other member of the community ecology, must have their population controlled but they do serve a purpose within the ecology of a farm/homestead. I like the fact that I no longer need to set mouse traps and the squirrels will eat someone else's pecans.
 
wayne fajkus
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:

I am sorry Tina, we will have to agree to disagree on this point......feral cats, whether neutered or not, have NO bearing in permaculture or sustainable and balanced living within a biome. Snakes and rodents are what are suppose to be there...not cats, and I don't believe I am too, out of order, to point that out.

Cats simply are not part of our ecosystems, and suggesting they are is inaccurate. I love(d) my cat(s) as I did my dogs...they are not part of the ecosystem...do not belong in it without me...and are not a native member of the types we have here...Our seven species of feline is all we need and all that should be running loose...especially if permaculture is the intended target. Again, my apologizes if you hold a different view, but I can't support you position...not even a little.

Respectfully,

j


Juniper (Cedar) trees are not native to Central Texas, but now that they are here a new bird species was created (golden cheek warbler). Neither are native and now one is a protected species. I bet many plants you grow are not native to your country. Italy's grape/wine has significant roots from Texas. Europes potato, who helped to feed nations, didn't originate from Europe. There were no wild groups of Mustangs roaming New Mexico until some horses were brought over on a ship.

That doesn't count us as humans. It was Native Americans here until it wasn't that way anymore.

It is an evolving world. I personally can do without feral cats, the non native fire ants, and the new plant with stickers that I've never seen in my life that that's now all over my property.

I guess, like everything, a line has to be drawn in the sand. Every person can make a choice based on what is actually controllable. Fire ants being one that is not.
 
Hannah Js Davis
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Location: Savannah, GA
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I'd love to have snakes come and live on my little patch of property, preferably rats, corns, garters, etc., but I'd never go out of my way to kill any venomous snake that showed up IF that happened. I'm happy to trap and relocate them. But seeing as how snakes would have to cross a fairly busy daytime road, I don't truly expect them to show up and take care of the pests anytime soon. Even if they did, I'd worry a few of my neighbors would probably kill them on sight.
 
wayne fajkus
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If I miss quoted on cedars and warblers, I apologize. I have been in Texas since 1969 and what I stated was not researched but is a known for my area. You have me curious and I will research it. Thanks for the info.

No need to debate the cats. One man's permie style is different from anothers. In the end people will do what's right for themselves and the landscape they are dealing with.

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Thank you so much for that Hannah...that is perfect. That is how I use to get many of my snake friends as from folks like you. I would bring them their corn, bull, pine, fox, king, and related species and take their venomous ones away to be free someplace else of to have there young near me and then go about their way. If you live in a heavily populated area or traffic (and non-snake lovers) then there are ways to help. "Drift fencing" can really help keep them where you want and others out... Just create the habitat they need within your garden or yard and the results can be impressive. As for getting them...just put the word out in certain circles and you will have all you need, in whatever species you would like, in most cases, and locations that have snakes.

Thanks again for "relocating" and not killing...it means a lot to the environment...as some of these species are greatly impacted more and more each year by those that would just as soon see them extinct.

Regards,

j
 
John Elliott
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Tina Paxton wrote:
I'm hoping that when I put in a pool or two and some swales, that the skinks will come live here.


A dead tree trunk of a sizable diameter. That's what will attract the skinks. They like it really rotten, like "stick your hand in it and pull out a handful of sawdust" rotten. Tree trunks lying on the ground usually get that way after about 4 or 5 years in our climate. The first couple of years the bess beetles will make tunnels into the wood to raise their broods, and those tunnels are just about the right size for skink newlyweds to move into. They don't have to go far to forage, because the spot under the log will host a lot of sowbugs, and the part under the bark will be full of cockroaches.
 
wayne fajkus
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Looks like cedars are native. I guess the miss information is pretty widespread.from what i found, City of Austin had it listed as a non native. People gave examples of tourist guides saying they are non natives. Because of cedar fever and the fast spread, some locals refer to them as invasives, which could be interpreted as not bring native.

Amazing
 
Matu Collins
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The diversity of snake species on my homestead has increased noticeably since I put in raised hugels. I see them slithering in and out of one in particular.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Jay C. White Cloud
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Now...what I am about to share can be just for fun...or have a very focused purpose as well.

I have, at times, mentioned feeding snakes. Of course different species, eat different prey items...often...a species or individual will develop "tastes" that can on the other hand, be reflected in "food shyness."

Lets take Garter snakes for example...many of them get into eating worms and don't want (or understand) anything else. They become "food shy" to other items (like slugs) that we would want them to eat. Now in a well populated garden with many different age groups and members...that really is not issue.

This where the "fun" comes in...

Garter Snakes are one of the easiest to "imprint" on a new behavior and willingness to not only stay by you when you are around, but some will follow once conditioned. So if you are game for it...all that really has to be done is take a thin stick (like a small bamboo skewer) and place the new target species...in this case a slug...on the end of the stick. Patiently get close to a the animal and move the food item into there visual and scent range, and see if they will take it.

Now if this is a "worm eater" type he may refuse, that is when you must add a small section of worm near the slug, and rub worm scent all over the slug as well. This works about 90% of the time, and within a short while your "worm eater" will start targeting slugs as well.

Keep this "stick feeding" up and the different animals you feed will start associating you with "safe or neutral" and some will imprint on the fact that you may feed them as well. Given enough patients...(your in the gardens anyway)...some will really become found of your presence.

I have had large females, especially when gravid (pregnant) seek me out just to crawl up onto my lap or shoulders to get warm and sun themselves. They know there safe...I generate more heat that the cold rocks in the morning...and food is not on there mind...getting warm is much more important to them. In time they just seem to like being around you and can actually become obnoxiously"nosing" having to look into pockets, see what might be in the hole you're digging, or whether if they just keep crawling around you enough "snooping and poking" that you may find them something to eat...its cute.

Now when it is a venomous species (STRONGLY NOT RECOMMENDED FOR THE AMATURE) having them in such proximity and comfort can take some adjustment. Copperhead, for example, can be a bit "twitchy" more so than other species...yet...when imprinted (tame) they are no different than a garter snake (other than they are potentially dangerous if they did bite you because you got to close when they didn't know you are there.)

So again, I am definitely not recommending this...as most folks just can't control their fear levels well enough...yet when tamed...Copperheads (especially females) can become very endearing and responsive to the company of certain humans...never offer to bit...and will only seek you out for a "treat" or a warm lap to layon. I share this just to illustrate that most humans have a long way to go on their individual life paths...to actually having the same level of...CONTROL, CALM. AND COMPASSION...as a venomous snake can achieve...They have much to teach us...as does most of the natural world around us.

Regards,

j
 
Dale Hodgins
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I can't count how many times I bumped into my Labrador retriever who followed me a lot. I stepped on her toes and she stepped on me. I tripped over her.

There are snakes in my hugel beds. I purposefully step heavily a few times when approaching. The snakes make their way to safety. I haven't stepped on any of them.

On the slug thing. Juvenile garter snakes may live on mostly earth worms. Larger ones go for slugs and bugs, mice, fish and many other items. They will eat anything that they can swallow.
 
Irene Kightley
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We see snakes almost every day when it's warm. I'm honoured that they feel at home.

This a harmless green and black grass snake (Hierophis viridiflavus) about 1.30cms long, in one of our new hugel beds.

 
Michael Longfield
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I want to implement hugelkultur on a broad scale on our farm. I am torn because of our large copperhead and rattle snake population. If they explode on our property it could be very unsafe for children, dogs, and workers.

Snakes love mulched beds. Snakes love hugelkultur. Snakes love permaculture.

Embrace it and get some antivenom?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Michael,

I can understand your feelings more than most...on several fronts...

One I have been in hospital 5 times for snake bites (no I am not really that dumb...I use to work with about 500 a day at one time in my younger life.) I also lived and went to highschool in Charleston Illinois splitting my weekends between Rock Climbing and snake collecting south of Carbondale, around Pomona.

I won't even begin to suggest that these animals are not potentially lethal...they are...and so are trees which kill more people each year either directly from working with them or indirectly by just falling on us. Truth is venomous snakes can't hurt you if you don't screw with them, and the statistics are pretty clear...folks like that work with them are the prime target, the folks that molest and kill them are the next on the list of who gets bit...then...unfortunately are children that try touching them...The last is what we should focus on and ways to mitigate not only the snakes become an issue, but use (you) to them...

I will answer any questions you have in as detailed way I can, and if you feel the need to really "get into this" feel free to call me...and I really mean that...

"Drift fencing" is the first line of defence if in an area that is heavily populated with these scally folks. My garden had them all around it, as my mound gardens (todays hugelkultur) had several breeding dens in them. In my case is was to keep these little guys in...not out. I didn't mind them and was use to working around them...once acquainted (I do not recommend this to anyone) they calmed right down and would even come over to see what I was doing. If you start feeding them by hand (silly me) they become very bold and quite...well...friendly. I was never bitten by any of the tame venomous snakes I have ever worked with. Only wild, injured, or frightened.

So I suggest...

Learn as much as you can.

Befriend a knowledge person about these animals (that you have done.)

And embrace them being there and what positive effects your permaculture practices will have for them and the environment...

Regards,

j
 
Michael Longfield
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Location: Southern IL zone 6B
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Thanks Jay for the thoughtful response. I will keep you in mind when I have any questions regarding snakes.

Would you get the antivenom after you got bit? Did you feel that the effects of the venom were lessened after you got bit more? As an herbalist, I really need to focus on effective remedies for snake bites. One friend who got bit by a copperhead regretted taking the antivenom, I guess it doesn't work as well the second time.

Very cool to hear that you have roots in southern IL. I live on a 160 acre property in Pope County adjoining lusk creek wilderness. We are starting up a permaculture farm and retreat center called Interwoven Permaculture Farm. We moved in this September. https://www.facebook.com/InterwovenPermacultureFarmRetreatSouthernIllinois?ref=br_tf

A couple years ago I harvested a bucket load of chanterelles at the natural bridge in pamona. & my partner used to live in Walden, Vermont.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Michael,

Those are excellent questions!

will keep you in mind when I have any questions regarding snakes.


Please do...and don't hesitate if you really need something fast...I may be hard to reach at times...so be persistent!

Would you get the antivenom after you got bit?


In some cases I did, and in others I did not...

Did you feel that the effects of the venom were lessened after you got bit more?


Building up "resistance" is a long road, and can take place...and...it can also lead to strange sensitivities...

This field of "venomous toxicology" is vastly misunderstood. I have even had to tell Doctors how to take care of me when in the emergency room. As a WEMT and someone that works with these animals, I had more of an understanding than they did.

There are "species specific" human based serums; these being the most expensive. Then comes rabbit. The horse serums are the least expensive, and often "polyvalent" (applicable to more than one species) such as the type used for most Viper envenomation (ie. copper head, water moccasin, common rattler species) as these are what usually get folks.

Horse serum can be really "reactive" to some folks lymphatic system. The horse based serums "can" (not commonly) be worse than the venom itself as folks will have a really bad anaphylactic reaction and become a full on systemic shut down. At that point the venom becomes a secondary focal point to just keeping a patient breathing and with a heart beat.

Dr. Carl Hasst was one of my mentors as a very young boy. He had been "self injecting" with a mixed cocktail of venoms till he was 99 years old and died in his sleep. He was healthier and younger looking than most men half his age and they are still studying his body and medical records.

As an herbalist, I really need to focus on effective remedies for snake bites. One friend who got bit by a copperhead regretted taking the antivenom, I guess it doesn't work as well the second time.


As an herbalist, you will focus on the secondary symptoms...not the venom itself. Yes, secon times around can be shocking for some folks while others react even better...Again there is way more to learn about this aspect of medical science than we know.

I should also point out that more than have of venoms snake bites are called "dry" as they don't inject...and just bite. I have been bitten well over 100 time and only envenomated 5 of those... Young snakes are the worse. Kinda like giving a 3 year old a ball and they throw in backwards...simply no control...

Regards,

j
 
Tina Paxton
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Michael Longfield wrote:I want to implement hugelkultur on a broad scale on our farm. I am torn because of our large copperhead and rattle snake population. If they explode on our property it could be very unsafe for children, dogs, and workers.

Snakes love mulched beds. Snakes love hugelkultur. Snakes love permaculture.

Embrace it and get some antivenom?


One word: Muscovies. Or, if you live out in the sticks: Guinea fowl.
 
Tina Paxton
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hi Michael,

I can understand your feelings more than most...on several fronts...

One I have been in hospital 5 times for snake bites (no I am not really that dumb...I use to work with about 500 a day at one time in my younger life.) I also lived and went to highschool in Charleston Illinois splitting my weekends between Rock Climbing and snake collecting south of Carbondale, around Pomona.

I won't even begin to suggest that these animals are not potentially lethal...they are...and so are trees which kill more people each year either directly from working with them or indirectly by just falling on us. Truth is venomous snakes can't hurt you if you don't screw with them, and the statistics are pretty clear...folks like that work with them are the prime target, the folks that molest and kill them are the next on the list of who gets bit...then...unfortunately are children that try touching them...The last is what we should focus on and ways to mitigate not only the snakes become an issue, but use (you) to them...


Ah, the voice of reason...now, I'm open to listen.

Jay C. White Cloud wrote:I will answer any questions you have in as detailed way I can, and if you feel the need to really "get into this" feel free to call me...and I really mean that...

"Drift fencing" is the first line of defence if in an area that is heavily populated with these scally folks. My garden had them all around it, as my mound gardens (todays hugelkultur) had several breeding dens in them. In my case is was to keep these little guys in...not out. I didn't mind them and was use to working around them...once acquainted (I do not recommend this to anyone) they calmed right down and would even come over to see what I was doing. If you start feeding them by hand (silly me) they become very bold and quite...well...friendly. I was never bitten by any of the tame venomous snakes I have ever worked with. Only wild, injured, or frightened.


I'm fine with snakes, even venomous ones, as long as I can avoid injury to myself and my elderly mother. She is terrified of them. Her's the old motto "the only good snake is a dead snake". So, I have to keep them away from the house and areas she frequents. How would I set up a "drift fence" to keep them out of her zone? and, how do I keep them from being a biting danger to me as I'm working in the garden? I'm creating a huglebed and have several tons (literally) of wood mulch to spread so I'm creating prime snake territory. I'd prefer non-poisonous snakes but the copperheads are prevalent around here. Over at Fort Fisher Aquarium, they say there is a non-poisonous snake often misidentified as a copperhead. They say to "look at the eyes"....well, I'd rather not have to get that close!


 
Bryant RedHawk
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In the USA the easiest way to tell if any snake is venomous is to look at the head, then the coloring. We have only one native venomous snake in the USA that is not a Pit Viper, the coral snake.

Pit Vipers have a triangular head and it is easy to spot this one feature quickly.

They also can flatten their heads and "rattle" their tails to appear more formidable, they have thick bodies, unlike most of the non-constrictors, vipers also have keeled scales (ridge in the middle of the scale) but most folks aren't going to get that close to one to be able to see this detail quickly.

Looking at the eye pupil can be deceiving, many vipers can appear to have round pupils, especially in low light conditions. The Coral snake, one of our more deadly venomous species has round pupils as an example.

A good field guide is the best bet to proper identification of the different species, Head shape, Coloration, Patterns and most other identifying characteristics are mentioned in the good field guides. Again, Pupil shape can be misleading!

Also, We have "introduced" species of venomous snakes in the USA now that have an Oval Head, this makes certain identification even more dependent on having a good field guide!

The easiest way to not startle any snake is to walk heavy footed. If you spot a snake, just give it some room to leave and it will usually do just that, leave in any direction but yours.
The only snake I've ever seen be aggressive to the extreme is the Water Moccasin or Cotton Mouth (same snake just different names in different areas of the country). The can be very aggressive and the bite is pretty painful, personal experience and yes I do capture them for others and move them to an area near my land which is perfect habitat for them and there is plenty of their preferred foods there so they tend to not wander once placed there.

On my property we do have a few copperheads but they mind their own business and move away as we approach.

In the past 20 or so years, there have been some other species, not native to the Americas, get loose from zoos via a natural occurrence ( hurricane for example) or be released from collections by the same method.

On rare occasions these species come across human habitats (neighborhoods, towns, cities), that's when folks like me get called in to take care of the issue. Once I was called to get a "brown snake that is eating my kittens" it was an Australian Brown with eggs. Since at that time Steve Irwin and I were friends, I called him up as to how a pregnant Brown could have made it to the US. We traced this snake back to a ship that had made port in Texas. I captured the snake in North Little Rock, Arkansas. This snake ended up being sold, babies and all to a private collector by the Animal Control outfit that had brought me in for the capture.

As a Herpetologist, I have worked with zoo keepers that take care of the reptile exhibits and I've captured many snakes for several animal controls.
I've taken care of or captured and relocated most of the venomous species including; Pacific Rattlers, Eastern Diamond Backs, Western Diamond Backs, Copper Heads, Water Moccasins, Gaboon vipers, Australian browns, Tai Pans, Black Mambas, cobras, Corals. Zoos are wonderful places to get to see these magnificent creatures. Most of them are truly beautiful.

When anyone gives these creatures the respect they deserve, they are not an imminent threat to humans. It always impresses me when people don't react the normal human way, kill what is feared.

It is important to always be aware of all the creators creatures, especially when you live in their habitat, each has a purpose and it usually isn't to harm we two legs.

 
Jay C. White Cloud
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"...the only good snake is a dead snake..."


Hi Tina,

Yes that old quote is one...too often...that many folks have.... I would suggest though that it is not one to repeat, nor any type of foundational belief within the realm of ecology or permaculture (like cats running loose without humans...)

I will more than respect and accept that many folks have "learned" to be afraid of snakes. This "learned response" presents as a "learned behavior" based more on cultural misconceptions, mythology, and seldom on how snakes actually behave...but more about how we behave around them. Many species of snake will "rear up" in defense when approached, especially if they are not accustom to human presence or we startle them...I completely agree with that being how it is with many wild animals we may encounter in our gardens...I choose to not encourage nor promote their destruction...while I know many do, I still can not figure out why or believe it is an acceptable practice?

As for methods the links attached to this term: "Drift fencing" should give a great deal of guidance. I would be glad to go into more detail if anyone needs it...

There are a number of "mimic" species that look similar to other venoms varieties. Most snakes will even shake there tail when annoyed so often get call "rattler" and are killed for it unfortunately. A healthy population of King Snakes will also help keep things in balance. I would also suggest that Muscovies, as a free range animal, can very much control a snake population, to the point of really decimating small animal life in a given biome so watch and controlling there 'travels' is warranted to keep things in balance.

So with the correct domestic fowl in a drift fenced area one can probably keep most, if not all, snakes out...I am not sure that really puts things into balance, if snakes are indigenous to an area, but one can do this if they choose...
 
Tina Paxton
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:In the USA the easiest way to tell if any snake is venomous is to look at the head, then the coloring. We have only one native venomous snake in the USA that is not a pit viper, the coral snake.

Pit Vipers have a triangular head and it is easy to spot this one feature quickly. They also have thick bodies, unlike most of the non-constrictors, vipers also have keeled scales (ridge in the middle of the scale) but most folks aren't going to get that close to one to be able to see this detail quickly.


Yeah, not going to get close enough to look at the scales. The shape of the head is easier to see from a respectful distance.

Bryant RedHawk wrote:The easiest way to not startle any snake is to walk heavy footed. If you spot a snake, just give it some room to leave and it will usually do just that, leave in any direction but yours.
The only snake I've ever seen be aggressive to the extreme is the Water Moccasin or Cotton Mouth (same snake just different names in different areas of the country). The can be very aggressive and the bite is pretty painful, personal experience and yes I do capture them for others and move them to an area near my land which is perfect habitat for them and there is plenty of their preferred foods there so they tend to not wander once placed there.


Water Moccasin/Cottonmouths -- those are strictly water snakes, yes? AFAIK those are not an issue in my neighborhood...unless they are over at the golf club community's ponds but I'm not allowed to walk over there anyway (disturbs the snobby golfers) so I will let them worry about that. But....if they are...and I install a small pond (very small) for my ducks, that wouldn't appeal to them would it? I'd rather not deal with those. Although, I lived in Hot Springs Arkansas for 2 years at a group home I worked at that had a large pond and I never once saw a Cottonmouth nor their other native resident--Tarantulas.

Bryant RedHawk wrote:On my property we do have a few copperheads but they mind their own business and move away as we approach.
As I mentioned previously, I had a lot of copperheads a few years ago but since getting the chickens, ducks, and a few feral cats starting squatting, I've not seen any. Not sure if there is a connection. I'm seeing lots of frogs, toads, and lizards which makes me very happy.

Bryant RedHawk wrote:...; Pacific Rattlers, Eastern Diamond Backs, Western Diamond Backs, Copper Heads, Water Moccasins, Gaboon vipers, Australian browns, Tai Pans, Black Mambas, cobras, Corals. Zoos are wonderful places to get to see these magnificent creatures. Most of them are truly beautiful.
God is a Creator of beauty that is for sure. Reptiles are quite lovely if you stop being creeped out long enough to look at them.

Bryant RedHawk wrote:When anyone gives these creatures the respect they deserve, they are not an imminent threat to humans. It always impresses me when people don't react the normal human way, kill what is feared.


I do try to do that...no always successful but I try. Everything has a role to play...
 
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Tina, While it is true that most of the time you will only locate Moccasins in or very near water, they will do weird things on occasion, like cross a road to an area where there isn't any water except where they were traveling from, this is pretty rare though.

I am happy that you are a sentient being, who tries to get along with all creatures. I also know that on occasion it is necessary to protect yourself. I once had to take a puma out, it wanted to eat me, bad decision by the mountain lion.

Chickens, ducks, geese, and other fowl do like to predate on snakes, as do cats, dogs, etc. They are a good way to keep populations from exploding and as Jay said, they can disrupt the balance, however, nature does have a ways of bringing things back into balance, even if it is by substitution of species. Do watch out for the cats deciding to feast on your chickens and ducks.

 
Tina Paxton
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Tina, While it is true that most of the time you will only locate Moccasins in or very near water, they will do weird things on occasion, like cross a road to an area where there isn't any water except where they were traveling from, this is pretty rare though.

I am happy that you are a sentient being, who tries to get along with all creatures. I also know that on occasion it is necessary to protect yourself. I once had to take a puma out, it wanted to eat me, bad decision by the mountain lion.


Yeah, sometimes we have to respond to bad choices with appropriate force.

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Chickens, ducks, geese, and other fowl do like to predate on snakes, as do cats, dogs, etc. They are a good way to keep populations from exploding and as Jay said, they can disrupt the balance, however, nature does have a ways of bringing things back into balance, even if it is by substitution of species. Do watch out for the cats deciding to feast on your chickens and ducks.



I had a dog bitten by a copperhead about 4 years ago. The vet, as I recall, did not have anti-venom and said that it wasn't really necessary -- that dogs don't die from copperhead bites unless they are allergic. I guess the dog had gotten a little too close to a snake who objected to the invasion of it's personal space. The dog survived the snake bite....

There are too many ferals here right now...I had wanted one or two for mice control but the one I actually brought in didn't say and a momma cat took up residence under our house...before I could do anything it was a population explosion. Current count is at 6 (which is down 3). If Mother would stop feeding them I'm sure the count would go down more but she is determined to feed these as her "pets". Sigh. So far, they leave my full grown birds alone (althrough they did try to drag a RIR rooster under the house before I could find him and realize he was sick). The Silkies of Mother's didn't fair as well and now she isn't getting anymore small size chickens. All babies have to be kept safe --momma ducks with ducklings are housed in cat&possum proof quarters.

I checked out the barrier fencing. That breaks Mother's Cardinal Rule: "It Must Be Pretty". So, only if snakes become a serious issue again will that be considered.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Great Stuff Bryant, thanks for adding your voice to this...

I would just add a few points and expand others:

In the USA the the shape of a snakes head can suggest a lot about whether it is venomous or not as the vipers all have pronounced wide heads and the non-venoms do not have this shape normally. I would point out that many non-venomous types, if upset they can shake their tails and broadened the head and body to exaggerate their size, which can confuse folks to whether they are poisonous or not. A good field guide to snake will assist in proper color and pattern recognition, as this to is another indicator to good identification. "Just looking at there eyes," isn't really safe, prudent or accurate. Looking at their eyes doesn't cover all the venomous snakes as coral snake, and introduced species can also have round pupils. Cat eyed, and night snakes are also venomous and are indigenous to the United States as well.





Above are rear fanged Night Snake



Above is the Cat Eyed Snake
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Pila, JC. I always tell kids at the Zoo or other groups; "When in doubt about a snake, stay at least twice as far as you are tall from it". I also get children to practice "freeze" it makes a great game and could keep a child from getting bitten.

I've had people tell me that a snake can only strike 1/3 the distance of the snake's body length. This means that a 6 foot snake can only strike 2.5 feet? Not my experience, Reggie, my pet python could strike 3 feet when she was only 4.5 feet long. Sure she didn't like to reach that far but she could do it repeatedly when I was testing the 1/3 distance theory.

I have measured Eastern Diamond Backs strike distance as up to twice the length the theory indicates. It would be better to say "Half the length of the body", you could still be got, but you just might be able to react fast enough to be missed.

I think it is always best to remember physics, a body in motion tends to stay in motion, the strike distance of a snake can be influenced by momentum.
I have had some 6 footers nearly get me while I was around 7 feet distant from them.
A Black Mamba that measured 7 feet (when we got it under control) struck several times to almost 2/3 its body length.

I also had one diamond back fly over my head while I was climbing in Yosemite once, I was wearing an orange helmet and apparently as the helmet top came up the ledge where the rattler was sunning, he decided to strike this intruder, poor thing fell almost 1100 feet, I became one with the rock right then.

So never think you are at a safe distance, unless you have already measured that snake and know how aggressive they are going to be at that time. Even a non-venomous bite hurts. A good walking stick, that matches your height (or taller) is always a good thing to have with you. With it you can safely move a snake by gently nudging it in the direction you want it to go. Doing that will usually not irritate the critter into striking.

 
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