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Snakes – Friend or Foe to Farmers?

July 10, 2012

female corn snake

Many people are all for wildlife until the s word is mentioned. Snakes strike fear in people, sometimes irrational fears. The truth is snakes normally don’t want confrontation, but sometimes our “unawareness” leaves them a last resort of striking when we don’t see the signs.

Many snakes are helpful to farmers. They eat rats and mice, which damage crops. Usually if you find a snake around it’s because food and water isn’t far away. Recently a ball python was found wrapped around a child’s leg, where he bit the child’s foot. The two foot snake was represented in some media comments as preparing to eat the child. The fact is a two foot ball python can in no way, shape or form devour a child. It’s just not physically possible. The video showed a snake that had just shed, which is the worst time to handle a snake (or run across one). Some comments charged the snake hadn’t been properly fed.

The fact is when the snake prepares to shed they stop eating. The skin prepares to shed, the eyes get a blue haze to them and the snake can just see shadows. Here he relies on scent – movement may be a threat. Once they’ve shed, they’re often hungry as they don’t eat during shed. Many snakes eat but once every week, month or few days depending on the snake.

Snakes can pose a danger to chicks or rabbits. Generally speaking they will consume something no larger than they are around at the thickest part of their body.

Toxic or ‘hot’ snakes bear a wide berth. If found near barns, the liability of having them around means relocation or, more commonly, killing the snake. Hot snakes are copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes and other poisonous snakes, some of which are hatched able to bite. King snakes, if you are fortunate to attract one, will eat not only rodents but other snakes.Some variations of king snakes look like coral snakes – remember “red on yellow kill a fellow” if you’re in their territory. If the black separates the red and yellow it’s a harmless king snake.

Corn snakes, such as the one in the pictures here, are a long but not too big around snake. They can bite – all snakes can – but do not inject venom. At the size of the one in the photo, their teeth are little more than rough sandpaper to us, but they eat pinky mice eagerly. They are fairly docile snakes, popular as pets because of the variation of beautiful colors.

Like any other animal, respect for snakes is important. For the most par we leave them alone they leave us alone. The snake pictured is a few months old – you can see she’s no bigger than my fingers. She poses no threat or harm to anything but a nest of mice.

“Rodents cause millions of dollars in damages to field crops, stored grain and farm equipment each year. In addition, they are the major carrier for more than 60 diseases that are transmissible to humans, companion animals, and livestock.”

Snakes help cut that toll – naturally.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2013 8:14 PM

    I truly take pleasure in merely reading all your blogs.
    Basically wished to let you know that you have people like me which appreciate your
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    • May 25, 2013 1:41 AM

      Thank you. Had a ball – hopefully when we get relocated I can get a couple again!

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