Snake Farts

Hey – guess what I found in my garage?

Eastern Garter Snake

Yep – one of these guys.   Apparently what I saw was an Eastern Garter Snake:

These snakes are usually found near water or moist places, including marshes, streams, damp woods, wet meadows, parks, gardens, weed patches, farms, and forest edges.

Garter snakes are very active, and can be found day or night, though they’re most active during the day. They are usually seen among vegetation (plants).

Females do not lay eggs, like most snakes, but instead give birth to live young. Each baby snake is five to nine inches long. Over 50 young can be born together. Most of them will not survive as young snakes have many predators.

In Winter, garter snakes hibernate, usually with other garter snakes, and sometimes with other species. Winter dens may be under large rocks or inside mammal burrows.

Eastern Garter Snakes are the first snakes to become active in Spring. They have even been seen crawling over snow.

Garter snakes are good swimmers, but are not as good at climbing as some other snakes. They spend most of their time on the ground or in low shrubs and other plants.

If attacked, a garter snake will release a bad-smelling odor. They also bite.

Garter snakes can live up to 10 years.

It could also possibly have been a Western Ribbon Snake (they are closely related) with bluish undertones.  Regardless, it was the first snake I’ve seen in four or five years around the house, but by no means the first snake that I’ve seen here.

We have Texas Brown Snakes here too (being Texas and all) which people mistake for “baby copperheads” all the time, even though Texas Brown Snakes are completely harmless – and tiny.  We had one of these get in the house 5-6 years ago; harmless or otherwise, it’s not what you want to find under the kitchen table when the kids are eating breakfast.  And I’ve got no idea how it got in in the first place, I mean – we have doors here at Chez Lawyer.

Texas Brown Snakes are completely harmless if encountered, but will readily feign aggressiveness to defend themselves. This usually involves coiling up, raising the head, striking out repeatedly at anything that gets too close and vibrating the tail. This is just an act to get larger animals to leave them alone, however, since they generally strike with their mouths closed, and their mouths aren’t large enough to grab human skin even if they tried! LINK

When we first moved in, there were woods behind the house and it held all sorts of wildlife.  We moved in in August and sometime later that month – I ran around the side of the house to water our precious new sod and keep it from frying in the Texas sun and very nearly stepped on a huge – and I mean HUGE black water moccasin (AKA Cottonmouth) that was sunning its big fat self on the side of the house.  Luckily it didn’t strike  – because they are known to be rather testy and prone to fight rather than flight.  Nonetheless, I felt bad because we had invaded it’s territory after all – I mean it didn’t ask for a house plopped onto its home space any more than the Wicked Witch of the East did.  I can’t say I wasn’t glad that it never came back, though.

And we also once had something very very large and very very agile on the back porch – due to size alone, I suspect it was some sort of King Snake, but I couldn’t swear to it.

But back to our garter snake.  I saw it in the evening and my first reaction was to gasp…because it sure wasn’t what I was expecting to see in my recycling pile!  My second reaction was to grab it and show the kids because I knew it wasn’t venomous (12 years of Girl Scouting was useful after all!).  So I did – I wasn’t sure if it would bite me, so I went for right behind the head first.  My third reaction, was, “OMG – I’m holding a snake…and it’s bigger than I thought it would be!”  It was hardly a giant, but it was almost 2 feet long, which equals several coils around my arm, as it turns out.

And as it turns out, garter snakes don’t like to be mauled, however gently, by humans.  And as it turns out (and I had heard this before, but forgotten) one of their defense mechanisms is to emit a foul, foul, stink.  My oldest came out first and was thrilled by my find – he yelled for his brother – “Come see this snake mommy caught – IT SMELLS LIKE TOOTS!!!”  And it did.  More like toots mixed with a medicinal musty odor – like if your Flintstones Vitamin molded.  But yeah – peeeeyew!

All three came out and we had a lesson in NEVER EVER EVER EVER TOUCHING SNAKES unless mommy says it’s ok (and yes mommy and not Daddy because I can guarantee Daddy wouldn’t be within 20 paces of a snake by choice) and if you see a snake RUN RUN RUN AND TELL MOMMY AND NEVER EVER TOUCH IT.  And then I let them pet it.

And then we all washed our hands and arms and changed our shirts, because, MAN, is snake fart pervasive!


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