Q: Born and also bred in Houston, we moved to eastern Texas end fifteen years ago. Lately, we have been overrun with snakes, specific copperheads that are instantly rendered lifeless by method of a shovel. Longtime residents have informed me to only kill a snake if the is an impending threat. I as soon as relocated a garden snake, but copperheads and rattlers endure the shovel. Am ns being paranoid, or perform I have the ideal to protect my homestead versus all together invaders?

Douglas Parker, Huntsville

A: over there is a fairly widely held belief amongst Texans the the only great snake is a dead snake. There’s a slightly less widely held id that the only an excellent snake is a dead snake that has been skinned and had that hide tanned and also fashioned right into a snazzy hatband or belt. Folks space staunch in your thinking when it involves snakes (and snakeskin fashion accessories) and whether they must be permitted to slither freely about without molestation.

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Time to be when most everyone susceptible to occasionally encounter a snake fell into the shovel camp or a camp of a comparable garden tool, such together the hoe camp, the spade camp, the ax camp, or the machete camp. And those that did no fit into any type of of this camps can likely be found in the shotgun camp. The Texanist to be himself even once one ardent shotgun camper, having adhered to in his father’s footsteps. And because his dad never let that forget it, he recalls very plainly his initiation, which may have coincided with his very an initial shotgun blast. The Texanist will certainly spare friend the details, however it to be a warmth summer work in the 1970s. If riding around a item of property external of temple in the bed of Ol’ Blue, the Texanist’s dad’s faithful farm yard truck, the pre-adolescent Texanist spied what that was certain was an massive rattler climbing a small oak tree. The banged top top the window alarmingly, alerting his dad, that abruptly stopped, traction the Browning 20-gauge from the total rack and also handed it come the Texanist, who then, apparently, at least as it was told and retold on numerous occasions around the dinner table, crept come within around ten feet that the serpent, take it an not suitable amount that time (something in the ballpark that ten minute if you to be to think the Texanist’s dad) drawing a bead on the creature, and also then, eventually, blasted to kingdom come what turned the end to it is in a harmless Texas rat snake. The joke was ~ above the Texanist.

But that was then. Over time, v the increase of both herpetology (the area of zoology that deals with the study of reptiles and also amphibians) and also humankind’s cumulative I.Q., many Texans have pertained to realize the snakes, i m sorry eat every manner of nasty rodents, space a welcome component of the landscape and, further, the a dead snake, in many cases, isn’t practically as an excellent as a live snake—especially for this reason in the instance of a unauthorized Texas rat snake, i m sorry deserved far better than to it is in on the receiving end of the young Texanist’s slothfully (but well-)aimed shotgun.


A if back, the Texanist reply a question around cottonmouth snake that had actually taken a shine to a pretty lady’s Hill nation swimming hole. In the course of helping the end that woman, the Texanist was able to pass follow me a couple of fun facts about snakes. Go you know that some 115 types and subspecies the snakes contact Texas home? and also that this is much more than any kind of other state the totality United claims over? and that among these heaps and heaps of line there room tenvenomous species, including seven species (counting two pygmy versions) of rattlers; coral snakes; cottonmouths, the just venomous water snake found in the U.S.; and, of course, copperheads? It’s all true; the Texanist checked v his advantageous friends at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Copperheads, in this instance the southerly copperhead, a.k.a.

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Agkistrodon contortrix, have a to mark appearance, v a light-brown, contempt pinkish, rather stubby body that features wide dark brown bands and the telltale triangle head of the awful pit viper. And also although copperheads can be found almost all end the state, castle are particularly keen on your neck the the woods over there in eastern Texas, specifically the leaf-covered, sun-dappled ground around river bottoms, whereby they feeding on the abundant baby cottontails, infant turtles, rats, mice, birds, lizards, frogs, toads, swamp rabbits, grasshoppers, cicadas, and other insects.