Rat Snakes Forum
To tame or not to tame?
I’m hoping you can give me some advice to consider regarding my Rat Snake "housemate(s)." Not exactly pets, but not totally wild either. Cohabitants more properly, maybe.
In honesty, I am not a champion of snakes or any reptiles either. I don’t hate snake, have snake nightmares, repulsed by, nor do I think they are nasty, slimy, etc. I have more of a tolerant live and let live posture where/when possible.
Here’s my problem:
I don’t have a chronic mouse problem. Sometimes, for a day or two, mice or evidence of mice can be seen or heard.
I do have as cohabitant(s) rat snake(s). We have been cohabitants for years. Prior to last year we led separate lives in separate parts of my house. I had range of the rooms and the crawl space underneath, the attics, and spaces between walls created by several additions, belonged to the snake(s). A look into any of the aforementioned areas belonging to the snake evidenced its residence by numerous shed skins. Sometimes a snake could be encountered sunning in close vicinity to the house or a shed skin draped through a rose bush. We didn’t molest or threaten the snake when encountered and the snake might not even move off at our presence. The shed skins were in the six-foot range. Why, I don’t know, but I assumed the snake to be female and referred to her as "Willow."
I do live in a four-acre very wooded and vine covered property. However, the property is no longer between two farm, but now between two subdivisions. I mention this as I assume entry of "new" snakes is probably limited by the subdivisions. Growing up here, encountering a copperhead was not a frequent treat, but never out of mind. Maybe one every other year or so. Flashlight were standard equipment at night.
So now, starting last year the snake started appearing in my part of the house. For a period of maybe a couple of weeks the snake might frequent a ledge above the refrigerator basking in the heat rising off the coils on the back of the fridge. My first sighting of the snake was one afternoon when I had the radio on the counter next to the fridge turned up quite loud so that I could keep up with the program as I move from room to room. The fridge stands beside the back door which is fairly heavy being a full-view, double pane unit in wood surround. I had also made a number of trips in and out. Closing the door delivered a considerable thump on the framed wall on which the snake rested. When I first saw the snake, it was coiled up with its head out watching my transits of the area beneath it. At one point I tried to call the dog’s attention to it bringing my finger into its space only a few inches from its head. The snakes reaction was to pull its head back a little. It seemed to be happy being entertained by me, so I left it and carried on checking on it as I thought of it. Finally, on one check it was no longer there. The snake appeared there several times over the next week or so and got to the point of resting with its head in and back turned toward me. I found myself feeling quite pleased with myself that the snake seemed to trust me not to bother it. Finally, the snake disappeared for the winter.
Late this past spring the large snake had not appeared, but a much smaller (finger sized) one did and repeated the same activity at first of observing and finally turning its back. Once I heard it fall down in front of the back door. I walked up near it and opened the back door to let it out, but it looked out briefly and said "no thanks" and moved around the front of the fridge and used the drawer pulls and such to scale the cabinets back to its perch. Another time I was in the adjoining den when I looked down to see it moving into the den. Now, that was too far into my space so I decided to show it some limits. I held my foot out in front of it blocking its path, but it just attempted to shift sideways and continue around my foot. I countered by again blocking its path but swinging my foot trying encourage it to reverse its path. It got the message, did so returning to the kitchen and promptly climbed back to its perch. After a couple of days it disappeared and has not been seen since.l
HOWEVER, unseen by me (except for some oatmeal and tea boxes moved from the top of the fridge to the floor) the large snake left evidence of its passage shedding a skin on the kitchen counter and a second one over the corner windows over the sink. It has not been actually seen.
I should not have suggested "taming" of the snakes as I don’t really desire a snake pet. However, I need to figure out my next move(s). I can try, but I think it virtually impossible to close up all access points between the snake’s territory and my territory. NO, I don’t go to the bathroom at night w/o a flashlight or room lights.
So, what to do? While it might be a bit exotic and interesting, I don’t think I’d like to try living with tamed rat snakes as pets running loose in the house. I’m not interested in any truly "our" spaces.
Other than to diligently search for and close up any and all access points I can find, I don’t have a viable plan. I have no concerns that the snakes pose a threat to me as long as I don’t accidentally threaten them. I like the excellent mousing job the apparently do. If the old wives tale of rat snakes keep copper heads away has any truth to it, then they are quite welcome as I’d much rather cohabit with them!
Message To: Snakewary In reference to Message Id: 2314343
To tame or not to tame?
This is a delightful story...I am a lover of reptiles and would welcome the creature.
They or the matriarch seems to have made your residence her home as well. The little one that follows her footsteps must be keeping the rodent population in check. A prime example of the benefits to the co habitation.
However you seek a different answer.....the way that is usually most civil is to relocate the snake. Some larger cities have a service that will perform this. If you try to do so yourself I would hate to think that the animal would be harmed by the "subdivision" residents. Since you no longer have the "FARM" community of old. You might have to make a real effort to avoid some disaster and take the snake to a remote area. Simply placing it in a large pillow case and tying a loose knot will suffice.
What a grand person you are for the considerable years entertaining them as well as yourself. I am envious. Wild caught snakes have eluded me except for 2 incidences in my life. Maybe I was just to busy in So Calif. But my reptile collection has grown to overflowing since I moved to Utah and found a more suitable partner.
I hope you have many more years of scaly "friendly" encounters