I once eliminated a 6-foot, 4-inch “black snake” at my back door. I believe it was technically a western rat snake. You saw them often in the Ozarks, and people who actually liked snakes had an annoying habit of getting upset when I would proudly tell about culling them once in a while from the equation.
“The snakes eat mice and rats,” they said.
“That’s what traps and d-CON are for,” I replied, usually getting a reply that sounded akin to “Ugh!”
I didn’t care. I’ll trade an all-too-friendly snake hanging around my house for a friend I didn’t really want to hang around anyway if he was a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of serpents.
Now I find out, thanks to an article in The Oregonian, that the longest snake native to North America — sorry, pythons, you came here illegally — the Eastern Indigo snake, is now successfully breeding in Alabama... South Alabama at that.!
Turns out, Auburn University has been trying to restock the snakes to what was once their natural habitat around the Conecuh National Forrest. They’ve been grabbing their eggs in southern Georgia and north Florida, hatching them in Lee County, eventually releasing them into the wild and hoping they would multiply. Apparently, they have found proof that the snakes are finally reproducing.
I have so many questions.
For starters, why is someone from The Oregonian writing about Alabama snakes?
Secondly, what in the good name of Ralph Shug Jordan are they doing up there at Auburn? For a school known for dramatic football wins, the hub of turning out veterinarians and astronaut central, does it really want to be responsible for giving some of us the “willies” is we ever come in contact with the snake it helped re-populate here.?
The article said the successful breeding program was “exciting.” SAYS WHO!?
One of my brothers has worked closely with some of these Auburn biologists over the years and takes part in nature programs for kids at the nearby Wehle Center on occasion. He even had an eastern indigo snake at one of his speaking engagements for the children to hold.
“They’re pretty docile,” my brother said. “That’s one of the problems because people would keep them for pets because they are so docile.
“And they eat rattlesnakes. In fact, snakes are their main meals.”
I have to admit, anything that helps eliminating rattlesnakes gets a big plus in my book, but it’s still a snake.
Apparently, the biggest problem with the eastern indigo snake disappearing from Alabama was the elimination of long leaf pines, which helped grow sage grass areas that were a perfect habitat for the snakes. By the way, that also hurt the Bobwhite quail population.
The snake, who averages 5 to 6 feet, can reach up to 9-feet long. I can tell you that if I come across a 9-foot snake, which one of us won’t be docile... ME!
The snakes often crawl inside of gopher tortoise holes. That has also played a factor in them disappearing since during rattlesnake roundups people often use a gas to extract the rattlesnake. Many Eastern Indigo snakes have perished because of such tactics.
But, thanks to Auburn, they’re coming back. Yay.
And now I see where Colorado has its first wolf pack in 80 years.