Our friend, the rat snake

When we first moved to this Texas dream ranch of over one hundred acres, we saw it all through idyllic, rose colored lenses.  Then you realize there is a whole other microcosm that exists, with or without you. 

A recent Craigslist ad from someone begging for snakes after he killed all of his he saw and realized they ate the  mice that now overrun the barn, reminded me of our encounter with snakes here on our place.  We saw our first couple of snakes and did a little research before doing anything about them.  Actually, I freaked out a little when the first snake I saw was on the outside of the house on the window screen, wrangling it’s way down towards the ground.  Later, I figured it was getting out of our attic, and had come out the gable vent, and down the side of the house.  We soon realized that they do have a purpose and if you see them, then there is a problem they are handling for you.  In our case, the mice were living in and around the house, which mice do. Not in unruly numbers, and that was the reason: the snakes kept their numbers regulated.   In the past couple of winters two or three mice, usually during a wicked cold snap, have made their way into our house (entries are almost impossible to plug up completely; they can squeeze through the smallest opening imaginable).  Luckily, our dog April has turned into a fantastic mouser.  She is on their scent trail as soon as they get in and she finds them, does a quick kill without any bloodshed, and we easily dispose of the critter.   Additionally, last summer we found one snake curled up in the attic.  We know we have had a few problems up there in the winter, so if they can help us out up there, then so be it.  We know that they are not aggressive to us,  will move out of our way, that they are not venomous, and that they are helping keep nuisances “in check”.  We actually like our snakes and rejoice when we come across one slithering across the yard or alpaca pasture.  We just step around them and let them go on their merry way.

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