Monday, June 1, 2015

Removing Snakes

We get a number of nonpoisonous snakes in our yard (black racers, garters, milk snakes), and while we enjoy them keeping the mouse and frog populations down, they unfortunately breed. And the babies are small enough to slip through some weird underneath our porch cracks and occasionally get into the house. Our cat Django takes care of them at that point, or at least alerts me so that I can grab them and carry them out of the house, sometimes in the middle of the night. Those snakes are so small I doubt they could even bite through my skin. However, the ones outside can.

So, because of this issue, I now remove snakes from the yard whenever I see them sunning themselves on a rock. So far I have removed three large snakes, and the smaller one pictured here. One of the large snakes was a fat garter snake that emitted a foul odor when I grabbed him and put him in the bucket. Another was a milk snake that was in the process of killing a baby bird (I let him have it, but removed him and the dead bird). Another was full of three phoebe eggs he had just eaten a couple days earlier (we had been watching the nest). Those snakes were big enough to really hurt me. This guy's bite would probably just hurt a little bit, like a bee sting. But my wife got photos of me removing him properly, so I have posted him here.

The device I am using is a poker/rake that I recently forged in a blacksmithing class out of a piece of rebar. Turns out it is close to the shape of a genuine 'snake stick' and works great, at least for a snake this small. I used a rake for one of the big ones.

I take the snakes about a 1/2 mile up into the woods, where hopefully they will stay. Of course it is possible that they crawl all the way back, across a stream, etc. So, it may be a fool's errand. But since I removed two garters now this spring, I am hoping that this is one year they will miss breeding underneath my porch in the old chipmunk holes. If you try this yourself - be safe!

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