help me with snake identification, please!

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by crtrlovr, May 17, 2010.

  1. crtrlovr

    crtrlovr Still chillin' with my peeps

    sorry I don't have a pic, but I can give a very good verbal description. Not a pit viper of any kind, but I am not sure what kind it was. The facts:
    Length: approx. 2 - 2 1/2 '
    Color: brownish black on upper, underbelly was orange (not red, not yellowish, but ORANGE)
    head shape: slight wedge, fairly narrow, not pointed at all
    other head characteristics, no "pits", no vertical pupils, brown eyes
    had a very distinctive musky smell, similar to that of a skunk.

    This poor girl or guy had crawled into some old deer netting that we had used for the run cover until our record-setting ice storm of '09. There was a section on the ground just under the drip line of the chicken house and I'd had it on my, "I need to pick that up" list for quite a while, obviously. I don't know how long it had been there, and wouldn't have noticed it if my cats (who regularly follow me into the chicken run now, and the chickens and guineas just go, "oh. It's you.") hadn't been doing the weird, "stand tall, slap fast" stance they do with snakes... It was probably either going after the mice who are plentiful, or it could have easily crawled up through one of several rotten places around the bottom of the chicken house. I finally got the roof replaced; now I need to replace the bottom 4' all the way around. So now, does anyone have any idea what kind of snake this was? It wasn't aggressive at all, but that may have been due to being trapped for no telling how long. I got my gloves (just in case -- I'll help anything I can, but no sense in being a total fool... ), scissors, and a plastic bucket. I covered the snake's head gently w/ a flat strip of wood and started cutting away the netting. It took some time, as there were cuts and raised scales from the attempts to escape, but I finally got all the netting cut away and pulled out the embedded pieces under the scales. I carried it across the road into a vacant lot with some tall grass and let it go. I really hope I don't see it again; at least not on my side of the road, and hopefully not flattened ON the road. OK, now -- any ideas on what kind it is?
  2. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
  3. Swampwood

    Swampwood Songster

    Apr 25, 2010
    Krotz Springs, LA
    Rat snake is my guess
  4. NurseELB

    NurseELB Songster

    Oct 16, 2008
    Lacey, WA
    Sounds like a rat snake to me.
  5. crtrlovr

    crtrlovr Still chillin' with my peeps

    Thank you, Cetawin! The link to the snakebook made it official -- you were right. It is indeed a copperbelly water snake. SO glad I was able to rescue it and relocate it at least out of my chicken pen/house. If I'd known ahead of time that it is a protected species and a water lover, I might have tried to keep it overnight and ask the conservation folks about where would be a good place to release. There is a good sized lagoon/overflow pond in the back of the large lot/field across the road where I released it, and some old oaks so maybe it will have a reasonably good habitat and can survive. Thanks for the help! BTW, my husband just thought I had completely lost it. He is (among many other people) of the opinion that no snake is a good snake. He almost had a cow when he asked what I had in the bucket. (If he didn't really want to know, he shouldn't have asked... [​IMG] ) I will not kill one unless I KNOW FOR CERTAIN it is poisonous AND it is threatening a human or one of my pets. I'll dodge them if I see 'em on the road, I'll stop to let 'em cross, and I'll give them a wide berth if they need it. [​IMG]
  6. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    I hear ya...I leave em be unless they are venomous mainly because of the pets (ChiChi) and kids. Venom carriers are killed on sight in my yard. Before I moved here, out in Oregon I had a HUGE california kingsnake in my yard who loved sunning himself on the gravel drive....a friend came to see my hubby one day and came running to the door yelling for something to kill a snake....I said what snake? he said "the huge rattlesnake in your driveway" I said I have no rattlesnakes...I have a kingsnake in residence. LOL I went and looked and threatened him with bodily harm if he touched that snake. The lady across the street had diamonbacks in her yard constantly....I never had a single one. [​IMG]

    Heck I even told the snake where my coop was in case he wanted an egg every now and again. He was welcome to them. I used to put eggs out for him on his trail. There are good snakes to tell hubby to keep an open mind. [​IMG]

    Glad I could help.
  7. crtrlovr

    crtrlovr Still chillin' with my peeps

    Thought I'd better clarify that no I did not keep the snake in the house for more than just a few minutes so I could check for bleeding and make sure I had gotten every remnant of the netting off. I didn't want a piece encircling the snake and growing into the skin later. No bleeding, a couple of slightly skinned spots and some raised scales, but I was concerned that trying to medicate it (not sure about what to use, either -- was leaning toward generic triple antibiotic cream, but again, not sure) would stress it out even more. It had gotten dark outside while I was trying to cut away the netting so I had to bring it in so I could see (and so I could get my glasses that ENABLE me to see!!) Snake is released and hopefully recovering from its ordeal. [​IMG] Strangely, though, I didn't see any mention of the musky smell, but the photograph was unmistakable -- definitely copper belly water snake.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: