July 22, 2021
When Melissa walked into our garage last night to get more ice, she was surprised by a snake stretched out on the floor. I mentioned the earlier false scare caused by the long earth worms and I assumed we had an even bigger one in the garage. When I looked at the “snake”, I realized this was not a worm. This was a 2 ½ foot long snake with a black dorsal and a yellow belly. Since I did not recognize what it was, I decided to take the safe route, and got the reach assist tool Melissa’s dad had used to pick things up from the floor from his wheelchair. The snake coiled and even struck at the stick as it got near it. I was glad I had not just picked it up.
After the immediate “crisis” was passed, I went online to find out what type of snake it was. While the various images of Arkansas snakes illustrate their color variation in nature, I finally decided this must have been a non-venomous water snake. The yellow-bellied water snake (Nerodia erythrogaster yellow) is found throughout east Texas and eastward throughout much of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. It is an aquatic species generally found near larger and more permanent bodies of water, such as marshes, swamps, and the edges of lakes or ponds. It is also found in floodplains, swamps, marshes, ponds, and other quiet waters. With all the rain we are having it was apparently on the move.
The yellow-bellied water snake is found to occasionally travel far overland in search of a new home or a mate. Tadpoles, frogs, and fish are the principal food items (i.e., my pool?). It made me wonder if this was the “snake” (that I never saw) that Melissa believed was pestering the frogs in our pond several days ago. Regardless of whether it was venomous or where it came from, I was glad I no longer had a snake waiting in my garage to pop out and see what I was up to when I walked in. Just saying.
Thoughts: I remember having a clog in our sewer line when I was a boy. When the plumber came, he found a four-foot rattlesnake curled up in the pipe to the septic tank. While I have heard of snakes coming in through the plumbing and poking up through the toilet, I have never seen it happen. Still, I do sometimes check at night. While snakes are beneficial to control rodents and amphibians, many see them with trepidation and assume they are poisonous. Even when they are not venomous, they are unwelcome house guests. There are many beneficial plants and animals found in nature that humans prefer to exclude from our daily life. I pull the weeds from my garden and occasionally scoop the frogs out of our pool. The problem arises when we encroach on previously used habitat and these nuisances are forced to cohabitate with us. Being the top of the food chain has perks, but also responsibility. We need to find innovative ways to create space. If we do not, we can expect the critters to come into our house. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.