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Old May 26, 2010, 7:04 PM   #11
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I am with Jim C on this. If it were in my yard it would be a dead snake. My father in-law and I had a run in with a Copper Head. Luckily father-in-law had a 45!!!!!
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Old May 28, 2010, 12:36 PM   #12
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Three things characterize pit vipers (rattlesnakes, copperheads, and water moccasins) - a triangular head (due to the large venom glands), the infra-red sensitive pits in front of and below the eyes, and the cat-like slit pupils, which open wider at night to allow in more light (although they hunt by detecting heat emissions from their warm-blooded prey). Any snake in North America with round pupils (easier to look for than the pits) is not a viper, and is essentially harmless and should be considered beneficial. This water snake has none of these features.

The general distrust of snakes in Western culture stems from the parable of the snake in the Garden of Eden, as well as the inability of many people to differentiate vipers from harmless snakes. Snakes play a vital role in controlling rodent populations, and vipers are especially valuable in this regard as they specialize in this kind of prey. It is a pity that the importance of snakes in the natural scheme of things is so widely ignored (vipers in your own yard are an understandable exception, of course).
If life brings you lemons, you can make lemonade.

Last edited by penolta; May 28, 2010 at 12:43 PM.
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Old May 28, 2010, 1:49 PM   #13
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As the old saying goes... I dislike 5 kinds of snakes:

Large ones, small ones, live ones , dead ones and rubber ones.

When I was growing up, my brother and I used to be opposites. He'd have pet snakes, and I'd avoid them. I can remember being out in the woods and being startled by a snake. What would I do? Shotgun blast, and he'd say something like "what did you do that for, that was a [insert snake species here]"

Despite looking through books about snakes, web sites with photos, etc., I've never gotten the hang of identifying species.

Most of the larger water snakes look like they've got triangular heads to my eyes, and I still don't get the pits part. As for round versus slanted eyes, I try not to get close enough to tell.

Yes, I realize that they are important for controlling rodents. But, if they're on my property and I can't tell if it's harmless or not, I'm going to do something about it. My apologies if that offends. But, my family's safety comes first.

I can remember when we had some snakes in our garage a while back that looked dangerous to me. My wife almost stepped on them getting out of her car and screamed, and I came running, as did my next door neighbor. We both thought they were poisonous and they were behaving aggressively. So, we took action. After the fact, I posted some photos online and asked others to help identify them, as I just couldn't figure out the species, even after looking through web sites about snakes.

Well... a few snake experts figured out that they were some kind of protected species that can appear to be aggressive, even though many of the posters responding thought they were copperheads (apparently their behavior was some kind of self defense mechanism built in to scare off predators), calling me a murderer, threatening to call the authorities, etc.

My reaction... find a jury that would convict me if you want to go that route and convince the authorities to charge me, as they were in my home from my perspective (in my garage where we park our vehicles, where my wife was in danger from my perspective, and I didn't want to give them a chance to get away and hide in the garage where they could harm us later on). I seriously doubt a jury of my peers would see it any differently than I did at the time (at least in "my neck of the woods", as we often refer to where we live in this area). I did what I thought was needed to protect my family.

So, my apologies if my distrust of snakes is a bad thing, and my apologies to those of you that see things differently. But, if they're on my property and they're not obviously harmless, they picked a really bad area to hang out.
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Old Jun 2, 2010, 8:53 AM   #14
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Jim. I'm not much of a snake guy myself. Never been afraid of them but never felt the urge to handle them either. I kinda live and let live with them. If the identification of venomous or non-venomous can't be made by me I usually will dispose of it as I have too many grandchildren to risk it. Nothing to be ashamed of as it is always better to err in the name of caution where the children and grandchildren are concerned.
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