Athena Would Like You to Meet Her Little Friend

It’s a garden snake Krissy found in the yard; she picked it up rather than mow right over it, which I think was the karmically correct thing to do. Shortly after the picture was taken, Krissy released it again into the yard, also the karmically correct thing to do. We like small snakes; they eat small bugs that would otherwise bother us. So, go, little garden snake! Get those bugs!

36 Comments on “Athena Would Like You to Meet Her Little Friend”

  1. As an organic gardener who just spent the last two days working out in the yard seeing the wildlife but also being stung by various bugs. Yay!! I need more snakes in my yard. I have some frogs and toads but no snakes yet.

  2. My first house backed up to a protected marshland. One sunny day, about a month after I moved in, I saw a flash in the grass ahead of my lawnmover. I slid my finger along and a garter snake, with aqua-green stripes, curled into my palm.

    I took it to the fence and watched it take off into marshland.

    About ten minutes later, there was another flash in the grass. I picked up a garter snake (at least, I think that’s what it was), with red stripes. It, too, went over the fence and into the marsh.

    I turned the corner to get the side yard, all nine square feet of it, and stopped for…a yellow-striped snake. This snake may have been more nervous, and promptly sprayed me, and I dropped it into the marsh.

    Seeing that the auspices were not with me, I didn’t even try to mow the backyard that day.

  3. My son keeps a 4 foot king snake in his bedroom. Coincidently, his room is remarkably bug free, even by non-teenage boy standards. Seriously, I have gained a much greater appreciation for snakes since Blackbeard joined the family about 6 years ago.

  4. It’s awesome that Athena isn’t squeamish about snakes. When I was not much older than she is (back in the mid 1970s), I read a fascinating book about Bill Haast, who used to run the (now closed) Miami Serpentarium and has been bitten by most species of venomous snakes. That book was most likely “Cobras in His Garden” by Harry Kursh, published 1965. It’s probably out of print now. He is still alive, amazingly, at age 100.

  5. The little snakes here rattle and can kill you if you pick them up. We don’t recommend it. That one is cute though. Go on little snake, eat those little bugs!

  6. How did Krissy manage to see that little thing from the seat of the riding mower? I am impressed!

    I’m not afraid of non-poisonous snakes, and will happily hold them, until they decide to slither. Then I go *SQUICK* at the feeling of the overlappy bits on their tummy moving on my arm. Oh well, I guess I don’t have to be a tomboy kinda girl in ALL things….

  7. And did it immediately pee on her like every single garden snake from my childhood? (Actually quite a lot of the OTHER snakes from my childhood also peed on me. Which probably had more than your childhood, unless your father was also a herpetologist.)

  8. Mel@11: A snake crossing a lawn makes a characteristic movement pattern in the grass. It looks a bit like the grass is waving in the wind, but it’s limited to a very small area and the area moves in a line rather than jumping around. Not too hard to spot if you know what you’re looking for, or if you know what normal grass movement looks like and you spot the difference.

    I got some practice at it when we moved to our current home. There are quite a few green snakes here. I leave them alone to hunt bugs and vermin, but my wife was sore afraid of them. Whenever I spotted one in the yard I’d find some pretense for my wife to be elsewhere, or relocate it to the treeline at the back of the lot.

  9. I had one of those outside my doorstep one year, & thought the same as you.

    Next year, he/she had a friend – still, no big deal.

    The year after that, I counted at least 7, still right outside the door of my suburban ranch-style apartment.

    Worried that a small one might infiltrate and become a de facto cat toy, I set about catching them & relocating them in an open field a couple blocks away.

    Maybe Athena could learn “Parseltongue” …

  10. Another critter you should encourage if you have an insect problem is bats. We have a ton around here, and in the early evening when there’s still some light they’re easy to spot, zipping around grabbing bugs. Unfortunately we live near a large slow-moving creek and the bats can only make so much of a dent in the mosquito population, but they’re definitely making the effort!

  11. My first reaction would be to jump away from it but if it seems harmless i’ll just let it go on its way. They can eat all the little insects they want.

  12. I used to be scared of practically any kind of bug or reptile before I had kids. Now, not so much because some kids will pick up animals to show you. We’ve never picked up a snake, but grasshoppers, crickets, ants, ladybugs, you name it. At least I don’t squeal and run now. I’m grateful for that because for the most part, none of these creatures will hurt you.

    That garden snake has a great pattern on it. Very cool.

  13. We had a red tailed Boa for about 20 years. My kids grew up around “Lady”. She got to be about 14′ long and weighed close to 35#.
    Once we were visiting some friends and their kid wanted to show my daughter her new pet. Carefully she peaked into the plastic terrarium and saw a gerbil. I asked her what was in the box, she said “Snake Food”! She didn’t make a new friend that day.

  14. YAY Athena! Most of my family thinks I’m crazy because not only am I not afraid of snakes, I actually like watching them and have been know to hold a few here and there. (Of course some of the fam thinks the same thing about my liking of bats but what the heck)

  15. A lovely little one. I nearly brought one home to my mother back in Colorado. Fortunately for my hiney and my mom’s blood pressure, I wound up not doing so.

    Wouldn’t have had a place to keep it anyway.

  16. I’m ambivalent about snakes. On the one hand, they are very interesting animals, and I find the dry/smooth texture of them rather pleasant. On the other hand, they’re very alien and they can bite you in nasty ways.

    I’ll happily handle constrictors and non-poisonous, non-aggressive snakes. I don’t handle things I can’t identify. Though I do have a photo of me with a cobra around my neck, courtesy of a roadside snake-charmer in India.

  17. That is good. I mowed lawns as a teen and got a couple of snakes before I saw them — it was not fun for the snake or for me. (One of them lived, I just caught the back two inches of its tail. At least, it was alive when I last saw it.)

    Personally, if I was tiny and a giant machine with big whirling blades on the bottom was coming towards me and making a very loud noise, I would move out of its way.

  18. I have a huge startle reaction (which is different than fear) to snakes. Even to pictures of skeletons of snakes. When I was very little (maybe not even one) my mom had me in a wash basket while she hung out the wash (this was in the 1940’s on a Montana farm), and she used a shotgun to shoot a rattlesnake trying to climb into the basket with me. She claims I can’t remember that – and I don’t &ndash but she does admit that it happened.

    Why are endash and emdash spelled ndash and mdash?

  19. Nobody likes snakes except evil overlords and their minions. This is just another reason to be afraid of Scalzi family.

  20. I suppose it could be a mondegreen, but I’ve heard it so often I think of it as meaning “green garter snake”.

  21. “Garden” snake? Is that a mondegreen for garter snake?”

    Yes. Around these parts (SW Ohio), they’re also commonly called “Gardener snakes.” That is, in fact, a Common (Eastern) Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis.

  22. I liked unto give myself a coronary the other day moving rocks from a collapsed outbuilding to a wall I’m building. Big ole Scarlet Snake dropped right out of a batch I was carrying. Thought it was a freakin’ Coral Snake for a second, then I got a good look at his head.

  23. Tuttle #33: “Red on black, friend of Jack; red on yellow, kill a fellow; black on head, yer dead!”

    Anybody else remember storyteller Gamble Rogers? His Passion of Miss Eulala Singleterry, about a school teacher and a scarlet king snake, is epic.

  24. I’m such an Australian – I automatically freaked out at this picture even though intellectually I know that no, not all snakes will kill you stone cold deader than a doornail.

    But he’s a handsome little fellow, I suppose. In the same way that some hideously venomous spiders weave gorgeous webs.

  25. vian—in the U.S., not only will “not all” snakes kill you, there’s only two types that *will*—rattlesnakes (Western and Eastern) and cottonmouths (only found in the South.) So if you know what those two types look like, you’re doing pretty well.

    Oddly enough, I’ve never been sprayed by a snake. I do have a pretty good snake story—up at summer camp in the Sierras, there are lots of rubber boas. They’re called that because they look so plastic. They’re friendly little guys, actually, and will gently try to squeeze your finger to death. At any rate, I was running the leather branding fire and a kid came up with one of them, which I convinced him to turn over to me. This was shortly before the Friday night campfire and I didn’t want him to sit on it. Everyone was starting to gather for the campfire, so I had to release the snake, and I thought it would be best to send him off to Staff Hill, because the guys had been complaining about the mice. “Who’s going to Staff Hill?” The waterfront director, a blond competitive polo player built not unlike Michael Phelps, said he was going. So I scooped the snake out of my jacket pocket and tried to hand it over.

    How was I supposed to know he was scared of snakes? I don’t remember how I finally convinced him to take it, but the mental image of this great big athletic guy holding a tiny snake at arm’s length makes me chuckle even now.

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