For several years now in late spring or early summer, we have found black rat snakes on our front porch. They like to get in our windows and look inside to see what the humans on the Johnson Funny Farm are up to.
The first time it happened, Boo Radley was barking a high-pitched bark, nose to nose and separated from the snake only by the windowpane in the living room. Its body was wound up in an oval shape like a garden hose, lying side to side in the two foot span of the window, raising its head and staring straight at Boo.
Last year, there were two of them all intertwined under our kayaks that we had placed on the porch temporarily while we cleaned out the garage. That took some wrangling to get that pair under control.
This morning, I noticed one in the window, climbing the house to get to the bird eggs in the nest at the corner of our front porch roof.
We got our snake trash can and our trash picker-upper and contained him before putting the lidded can in the truck and relocating this fellow to the west side of the Funny Farm to help control the field mice population over yonder where the sun sets.
Once we got him over on the Turner Road side of the farm, we turned him loose into the rugged side of the wild, where he slithered for cover once he realized that his life was going to be spared. On the way back, we saw a second black rat snake of the day about fifty feet from where we had released our prisoner, so it’s safe to assume that maybe the resident west-ender was coming to greet the east-ender and show him all the best field mouse spots.
We don’t kill our snakes unless they are venomous, and then we do so only to avoid young snakes that may threaten our dogs. We did kill the copperhead all coiled up and ready to strike, hiding in the barn under the tractor last year.
One time when a rat snake got in the chicken coop, I leaned in to get him and got my hair caught in the chicken wire. Fortunately, my stepson was home, so I called him to come and help as I had the snake trapped between an upside-down metal mesh garbage can and a campaign yard sign. I couldn’t release the pressure without the snake getting loose, so there I waited, with my head stuck in the coop, face to face with the snake through the mesh until Andrew arrived to help untangle me.
For today, the bird eggs have survived, the snake lived, and the dogs never even figured out what was happening. We high-fived our continued relocation teamwork, satisfied that we had done our part to protect the life of this eco-friendly serpent.
But once we’d seen two snakes before noon mid-May, we concluded that it is going to be quite a year for snakes.
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.