Spare the Non-Venomous Snakes!

Apr 6, 2022 – Usually I would have an article all about one specific reptile but, this time, I have a topic that is far more important.

Earlier this week, a friend contacted me saying that there was a snake on his cousin’s farm and they were going to kill it. I got there as soon as possible and, luckily, they had waited for me. It was a harmless and beneficial Cape Gopher Snake that eats mice and keeps the farm from getting rodent-infested. (I have an entire column on Cape Gopher Snakes in the archive.)

This is a real lesson.

Many of the 16-ish non-venomous snake species around La Ventana somewhat resemble venomous rattlesnakes and will do their best to act like rattlesnakes to ward off predators. Unfortunately, since people are so afraid of rattlesnakes, this defensive mimicry has the opposite effect on humans. In other words, rather than warding off human predators, acting like a rattlesnake actually makes people more likely to hurt or kill a snake.

However, there are ways to help. For example, our neighbors are having a house built and I have befriended the workers. They know that I love reptiles so, every time they find one, they let me take it instead of possibly killing it. In this way, I have assisted three sand snakes, two whiptail lizards and many scorpions.

If you find a snake or lizard and don’t know what to do with it, I am more than happy to identify and/or relocate it, which is not ideal but sometimes necessary.