Friday, April 3, 2009

Invasion of the Snakes

My husband and I live in the country on an 86 acre farm with our 2 children. We've been here for nearly 20 years, and there is no shortage of run-ins with animals. About 2 winters ago we started spotting snakes in our basement. They were the every day garden variety Black Rat Snakes. My husband absolutely HATES snakes. I on the other hand am rather fond of them. I have 4 of them for pets. So the fact that these creatures were suddenly showing up in our basement held a fascination for me and horror for him. I would hear him calling me from the basement "Honey, I need you" The first time this happened and he told me there was a snake I was skeptical, after all how could a snake get in our basement. Sure enough, there was a 3 foot long black snake stretched across the top of the window well. I captured it and secured it in a tank to be released when the weather warmed. Two weeks later, "Honey, I need you" came from the basement, and once again another snake. Captured and secured. This scenario played out a total of 5 times. The largest one captured being over 6 foot long. I now had 5 black snakes in tanks in my basement awaiting their spring release. Spring arrived and at my husband urging we took the snakes far from our home and released them at a Conservation area. He was afraid they would make their way back into our home if we released them in our yard like I intended to do. I humored him and transported them 10 miles away. That should be sufficient to ease his mind. He looked for any and all possible entry holes to the basement and blocked them all....or so he thought...LOL. This past fall a very small black rat snake made its way into the basement. This one I decided to keep to use for programs I do with children. He will make a great ambassador of his species. Once again my husband was horrified. He was certain all possible entries had been blocked. Then yesterday April 2, I spotted an unusual snake in my basement office. He came out of a crawl space in our basement, and was slithering along the rafter. I identified it as a Yellow Bellied Racer, or Blue Racer as it is often referred to in our area. He is about 3 1/2 feet long and absolutely gorgeous. I called my husband up at work and said "guess what?" "What" he replied. " I captured a Blue racer in the basement." "Yea right" he responded. "Really, you'll see when you get home, he is in a tank" Was pretty much how the conversation went. He even thought I was playing an April Fool's Day joke on him a day late. After arriving home, and seeing I was not fooling. He is now horrified all over again, as well as puzzled about how these things are getting into the basement. I assured him as far as snakes go, where there is a will there is a way. They are crafty and able to squeeze into impossibly small places to spend the winter. He is now on a mission to locate all possible entries once again. These snakes are the bain of his existance at this point...I personally find the whole thing quite humorous. They are a gorgeous snake. The photo of the Yellow-Bellied Racer was taken in my yard right after releasing him back to the outdoors. The other snake photo is one of a black rat snake taken at our farm pond.(Doesn't he look like he is smiling?). Most information I have read on Yellow-Bellied Racers claims they have a testy attitude and will bite, shake their tail in a rattlesnake fashion and defecate to ward of predators. This particular one did none of these things. Perhaps he was still sluggish from hibernating and didn't have his wits about him yet. Time will tell when it warms up outside and he can be released and I have to remove him from the tank he is in. I have seen this species only on two other occasions, once at our place near the house, they move so rapidly that racer is a very apt name for them. The other time was at a farm my in-laws own. I am just waiting for the day when one of these snakes makes its way into our upstairs living space. Oh my goodness...that will be exciting!

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