Texas Rat Snake on the TSP Homestead

This is a little Texas Rat Snake (more info here).  Lots of people are quick to kill them and say they have no choice because these snakes are “agressive”.  They are not what they are is defensive.

They will strike, they will bite, they will rattle their tails in the grass and leaves but ONLY if you mess with them.  They will never come after a person and being bit is less of an issue then being scratched by a house cat.  They do tremendous work in ridding areas of rodents and if you have them around, you have rodents or they would not be there.  Letting them be is the best course of action.  My only reasons for even catching this guy were to

1.  Be able to show it to you guys so you knew what they looked like.

2.  Get him out of the middle of our field before the dogs got to it and killed it.

He was released in a bushy area of our back pasture with lots of woods and other stuff to hide in.  I welcome his presence and honestly you should too.  All irrational fears should be banished folks and fearing something like this is irrational.

This snake couldn’t do any real harm to anyone not even a child.  A wall corner in your home is more dangerous to your children then one of these. Our daily episode will be out soon but for now I just wanted to share what I found during my morning walk with a cup of Muhi Tai Coffee.

See the Texas Rat Snake Video on Youtube

33 Responses to Texas Rat Snake on the TSP Homestead

  1. The New Mike

    I keep forgetting you used to be a real deal snake guy. I’d like to say i’d never mess with any snake, but I guess you never know. I remember when one got into my parents house. Eventually the snake went under my parents bed. How hilariously bad of a situation. The previous owner said he has never seen snakes here so… who knows. My uncle two streets down says he’s seen a couple copper heads, so hopefully we can avoid that…

  2. Ronnie in Iowa

    I love snakes!!! Glad you saved him! We have Bull Snakes that “rattle” too. I lived in one place that wasn’t the best and would find a Bull Snake curled up in a bowl or pan in the pantry area. Shared with frogs and other critters that found their way in too. The frogs taught me not to have a glass of water by my bed…I did switch to bottled. Not cool to reach for the glass of water and find a frog in it. Or hanging off the edge of the glass. Don’t have that problem now that I’m in a house though.

  3. I never heard of this snake before. We live in the southern Utah section of the Rocky Mountains.

  4. One of the few upsides to CA. If it doesn’t have a rattle, it is completely harmless. No guesswork needed.

    • Modern Survival

      Yea I guess that is true, you don’t have corals there do you? You do have a shit ton of rattler species including the Southern Pacific. As much venom as a Diamond Back can inject I still think the Southern Pac is one of the worst to get tagged by. While I hope never to experience any of them I think those and the Timber Rattlers are the two I would least like to experience. There is a reason the Timber’s Latin name is Crotalus horridus. That means “to ring horrible”. Referring to the sound and the results of being bitten. A southern pac is more likely to kill you but a timber is more likely to leave you disfigured.

      • The nice thing about timbers, at least all the ones i’ve encountered, is they have a faily laid back disposition. Always trying to avoid confrontation, even when provoked.

        • Modern Survival

          Yea I agree to a point. Up in PA in my old stomping grounds the issue was a breeding time, you would find one and start to think, wait it is spring and look around and find yourself surrounded by a ton of them in the rocks. You end up thinking two things when this happens.

          1. Man I better pay attention until I get out of this area and not step on one.

          2. Thank God I didn’t but how the hell didn’t I step on one or hear one until now.

          This is especially true in the early morning when they are cold and slow to respond.

          That is the problem with water moccasins in the spring to. Just coming out of burmation, covered with mud and moving really slow. Certain times of the year you have to really pay attention. A mud coated moccasin that is still moving slowly and hasn’t warmed up yet from the nights chill is easy to miss and step on, that WILL wake him up.

          My one hot bite happened as a teen and was from the least dangerous of all venomous North American snakes, a plain old copper head. I stepped over a blow down directly onto his back and took one pissed off full on shot right in the calf. I didn’t blame him but it wasn’t a fun experience. I drove myself to a local convenient store and had the clerk call 911 because I didn’t know the area. Spent the night in the hospital and I hate hospitals.

    • I’ve never seen a coral snake, and I’ve been told it is 100% myth that they are wild in CA. I’ve never seen a population map for them west of Arizona. I actually stopped a knuckle head from killing one a couple weeks ago. Had the thing dry mouth my hand to convince him it wasn’t poisonous. I see king snakes, gopher snakes, and lots and lots of diamond backs.

      I see diamond backs about 20 times more than anything else. I only see the gopher and king snakes near towns and farming areas. Out in the open desert I’ve yet to see a snake that wasn’t a western diamond back.

      Supposedly 29 palms has some local infestation of a hybrid rattle snake that is psychotically aggressive, but I’ve never been there.

  5. Thanks Jack. Snakes do scare me but when I take a minute to really look at one they are quite handsome, much better to have around than a mouse.

    • Modern Survival

      Exactly mice and rats damage your home, damage your crops, crap in places you don’t want them to, chew wires, ruin insulation and spread disease.

      Snakes specifically non venomous ones like this guy, simply eat mice and rats. They don’t do any damage, they really can’t possibly harm you, they don’t eat your crops and tend to be like a bear and do their “business” “in the woods”.

      I used to laugh at visitors scared of the snakes I used to keep while they sat on the couch petting Max with Alice in their lap. Oh not afraid of a 150 pound dog with teeth that can crush bone or a 12 pound cat that could shred flesh but you are afraid of a 1 lb snake that couldn’t do as much as a skinned knee if it did bite? Many just said yes. I just shake my head.

      It is a conditioned and learned fear, one of many we have hollywood to thank for.

  6. thewarriorhunter

    i’m not a snake guy at all. we have rattlers here and bull snakes. if it rattles i keep my distance and leave it alone. if it’s on my property i have some snake shot. if it doesn’t rattle i’ll try to catch it and remove it to a wash that is a few miles from my home.

    how did you catch this one? you mentioned a shovel, did you place the flat side of the shovel near the head and grab it?

    • Modern Survival

      Well I just used the back of the shovel to pin him down as gently as I could. He tried biting the shovel and when that did no good did what most harmless snakes will do, covered his head with his body and tried to ball up.

      Most snakes like this will bite but when it doesn’t work they know the bluff has been called.

      Rattling, well that is an interesting subject. There are many types of rat snakes and all rattle when scared. So do bull snakes, gopher snakes and tons of others. Black racers will, coachwhips will, etc. They are all harmless it is another bluff. They don’t have rattles though.

      They just vibrate the tail and make a sound with grass or leaves or even the side of a barn, it is a bluff. It also doesn’t sound like a rattle snake at all, a rattler has a rattle and it is a very distinctive sound. With one exception, a young rattler that hasn’t shed much may not have built up much of one yet.

      The thing is to learn what any venomous snakes in your area look like and leave them the heck alone or in some areas I don’t even object to snake shot or a bash with a long handled shovel. There are places where they are a danger and if you don’t know exactly what you are doing, well, don’t get near it.

      I have both removed and killed venomous snakes it is all situational and dependent on well, do I have a place to move the damn thing to.

      The reality though is in the US we have

      Rattle Snakes
      Copper Heads
      Water Moccasins (aka Cottonmouth)
      and
      Coral Snakes

      While there are many species of these they are all very easy to ID and if it ain’t one of them it ain’t venomous. Additionally many places in the US don’t have them all.

      Their is one exception, there is always the remote possibility that some dumb ass hot keeper has allowed some sort of exotic venomous animal to escape.

  7. Jack, — good to see you save that little guy. I don’t like being “surprised” by snakes, but I leave them alone. I can handle them if I have to, not crazy about it. Black rat snakes seem to like to poop on you as a defense mechanism. Yuck. Lots of black rat snakes and garter snakes around my house, prairie king snakes, occasionally a speckled king snake. I have some forest property where copperheads are pretty common. (I’m in MO). I’ve encountered one timber rattler (on a trail, while bicycling) so far in my life. It was a beautiful snake, a pleasure to leave it alone!

  8. Roundabouts

    So very jealous. We have a huge rat problem. No snakes to take them out. Live in SW Washington. The snakes are much better to have around than the rats. Especially these ground rats. They dug so much the cement slab barn floor cracked and the foundation crumbled. They have holes every where. don’t like to poison them because of the other animals. You can only shoot so many. Goblin boston terrier (RIP) was a great ratter he got 52 of them suckers The pigs & roosters will take out the smaller ones. Hoping our new dog will be a good ratter without digging even bigger holes.

    So wish I could get some snakes to put down or next to the holes.

    We do have some snakes that will eat the slugs. I build habitat for the snakes piles of rocks and give them brush. Our slug population has gone down greatly over the last few years.

    I would get in so much trouble as a little girl. I would forget to take my snakes / lizards / frogs / mud dogs or crickets out of my pockets. Mom would stick her hand in there before doing laundry. Scare the crap out of her. Then I would get a good woopen. HAHAHAH. Never did stop me. I always had critters in my pockets.

  9. Taste like chicken?

    • Modern Survival

      Not really this is not a snake I would rate highly on the edible list. Rattlers though are pretty damn yummy. If I eat a rat snake I would have to be really and I mean really hungry.

  10. Those are also known as bull snakes in some parts of Texas. My grandfather always told us to leave them be because they were as u said good at keeping the rodent population down but they also kill rattlesnakes

    • Modern Survival

      If anyone calls them a bull snake they are wrong. Don’t me to be a jerk but a bull snake is a totally different animal.

      Bull Snake – Pituophis catenifer

      Texas Rat Snake – Elaphe obsoleta lindheimer

      They are not even in the same family.

  11. How would you disinfect and seal that hoe wound?

    • Opinions vary, but hydrogen peroxide worked the couple times I used it. Wipe it down and let it dry before releasing. Both times I did needed to, it was a caged snake, but all I did was wipe it down and put it back once the wound was visibly dry, and it healed fine from there. Reptiles do that whole regeneration thing quite well.

    • Modern Survival

      Snakes heal very well and this didn’t get into the muscle the best thing to do is honestly nothing.

  12. Cool video Jack.

    We are covered in Prairie Kingsnakes. Here is a shot of my 8 year old holding one that was sunning itself in a busy road. These are pretty calm snakes, other local snakes are more high-strung. We spend a lot of time exploring, learning and identifying local wildlife. Copperheads are rarely seen, rattlesnakes are theoretically possible but I’ve never even heard of one in our county. Hog-nosed snakes are a hoot as they play dead. Garter snakes and blue racers don’t appreciate attention.

    • Modern Survival

      Kings of all sorts are some of my favorites, even large wild adults are generally easy to handle. Most garters only bite when first grabbed, it is the stink that follows I don’t like. LOL

      Never been bitten by a hog nose but it can happen as an SFE (stupid feeding error) here is one account the reaction around the bite is very interesting.

      http://www.herpnet.net/bite/

  13. Ha Ha on the timing. We just had a rat snake in our window unit/Air Conditioner. We did not have rat snakes in the Texas panhandle but I have been introduced to them here in SE Texas. Those things can climb like non other. Here is a google search for climbing rat snakes. Do not look if you are scared of snakes. https://www.google.com/search?q=rat+snake+climbing+brick+wall&newwindow=1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=zaGvUZ_LNMLTrgH2hYGADA&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1241&bih=584

  14. Cryptozoic

    Interesting! Spent most of my life in the American Southwest where snakes are polite enough to rattle if you get too close. But now I live in southern Ohio, which seems to be in a weird niche where there aren’t really any poisonous snakes. Farther South the bad ones don’t have the manners to make any noise. Here they seem mostly harmless.

    Funny, a decade ago I was delivering a truckload North of Savannah GA and had to walk a few blocks from where I knew I could turn around the 18 wheeler to where the consignee was and I didn’t know if they were open late at night. So I was ealking down the 2-laner and noticed there was a lot of water under the trees. i thought “hey, this is a swamp”. Then i wondered “wait… isn’t this alligator mating season or something?”

    That was when I realized (being a desert dweller) I was out of my element and didn’t know what right looked or sounded like. Are there snakes in the trees? Yikes! Had to laugh at myself as I walked down the white line in the middle of the road wishing I had a stick.

  15. Joseph cook

    I love it! Here in Florida we have a lot of yellow rat snakes.
    Yesterday I caught a five-footer in my quail cage. He had eaten a quail and couldn’t get out because he was too fat after eating the bird. I let him go in some palmettos close to the house and lined the cage with smaller mesh hardware cloth. A win-win situation for everybody but the quail. Of course he was going to be eaten anyway. 🙂

  16. I’ve always had a hard time convincing people not to kill them. Glad you let him stick around.

  17. My husband has killed 3 of these within a week, all were over 5ft long, and were in our chicken “shed” (old cistern stand from the ’30s that was once used as a shed (existing structure when we moved here), and now serves as a shelter for our chicken’s nest “buckets”.)…swallowing eggs. The first one, when he cut the head off, it looked like raw scrambled eggs just pouring out of it, at least 4-5 eggs.

    I have always been fond of snakes, and if we come across one in cleaning up, I will relocate it to a safe spot on the property. I caught a young rat snake in my kids’ room last week, taking my 2-year old to the potty, she just stepped right over it. I though it was one of the boys’ rubber snakes on the floor till it moved. We caught it and took it out to a wood pile. I like them to eat the mice and rats. Not so much our eggs and chickens, and being longer than we are tall.

    • Modern Survival

      It bothers me a bit that you feel the need to kill these animals. Never seen a single one capable of eating an even half grown chicken. Loosing eggs sucks but man they are not exactly stellar at navigation. A trip down the road and toss in a wood lot and pretty much they will find elsewhere to wonder.

      I would pity the rat snake that runs into a full grown rooster by the way.

      I ain’t judging, just giving you the other side of the coin is all.

    • I’ve heard wooden eggs can make that a self correcting problem. Would definitely be my preference. I would never kill a snake if I could find another way. You really need to think long and hard before killing a predator. Nature doesn’t replace them nearly as quick as the prey.

    • Hate to admit it but I killed 2 in my garage recently before I knew what they were. Wife was upset that they were in there and wanted them gone. Know much more what they look like now so will know next time.