The sun was just beginning to warm the earth just a little. It was April and the flowers were beginning to pop out of the ground displaying all their colors. It had been a very long winter and people were happy to be able to go outside without heavy coats. Lawn mowers could be heard all around getting the lawns cut and fertilized.
The Hancock family was picking up limbs from the past windy weather. Mrs. Hancock had saved seeds from her vegetable garden the past year and was getting ready to plant again. She loved to have a garden each year and enjoyed the fresh tomatoes. Now it was time to pull up the tall weeds and get the tiller out. She always pulled up the weeds; put them in a mulch pile for use later. Then she would till the soil and get the rows ready for planting.
Mrs. Hancock had a young boy named Seth helping her pull up the dead weeds since she was getting older. As they were weeding the garden spot Seth reached down to gather some dried weeds that had endured the winter weather. As he was lifting the weeds he made a shocking discovery. Underneath the weeds came five or six baby snakes. He had disturbed their nest and now they had to run for more cover. Not only were they running for cover so was Seth. He did not know if he had uncovered poisonous snakes or not. He knew very little about snakes. The main thing he knew was that he did not like ANY snakes at all.
“Seth!” Mrs. Hancock called out. “These baby snakes are not poisonous. They will not hurt you.” She said loudly.
“How can you be so sure? We have all sorts of those things around here.” He replied.
“Come here and I will explain to you how you can tell a poisonous snake from a non-poisonous snake.” Mrs. Hancock answered quite sure of her knowledge about snakes.
Seth walked back slowly in her direction. His eyes were watching all the grass in front of him. He wanted to be sure he was not surprised again.
“There are several ways to tell a poisonous snake from one that is not.” Mrs. Hancock lectured.
“You can use the tail scales to determine if a snake is poisonous. The pit vipers (poisonous) have a single row of scales under the tail beginning at the vent. Near the end of the tail, the single row will change into a double row. All others have single tail scales.” She continued.
“An easy method of telling the difference between a venomous or poisonous versus a non-poisonous snake is to look at the shape of the pupil in the eye. Non-poisonous snakes all have a round pupil (in the center of the eye) whereas all poisonous snakes have a vertical (cat-like) shaped pupil. All pit-vipers (poisonous) also have a small hole (pit) between the nostril and the eye.
I think this is probably the best way to tell between the two snakes.” She smiled.
“We have very few poisonous snakes. Most of them are not poisonous. All snakes can bite you and most do if they are cornered. They are merely defending themselves. It is always a good thing to look up the snakes in your area on the computer. Then get pictures of them burned into your mind. But of course the very, VERY best way to avoid a snake problem is to leave every snake alone. If it’s dangerous, you don’t want to mess with it. Most snake bites occur when people try to handle or kill snakes. If the snake is harmless you want to leave it alone because they are good rat eaters.
They are an important part of the eco system like all things. You don’t just go around killing every thing you see just because you don’t like its looks. My son used to catch black snakes and put under our house. In the winter time the black snakes would catch all the mice that came in from the fields. We never had to worry about mice at all. They were good exterminators and they didn’t cost us anything.” Mrs. Hancock smiled and motioned for Seth to get back to work.
“I really appreciate the lesson. I’ve just always been afraid of snakes and I really don’t know why. I think it is because they can sneak up on you without making a sound. They are rather eerie to me.” Seth answered as he began pulling up the weeds again.
“I think you will find they are more afraid of you than you might be of them.” She sighed.
So it came to be that Mrs. Hancock and Seth finished pulling up the weeds in the garden. They tilled the soil and planted the seeds. Mrs. Hancock once again enjoyed fresh vegetables all summer. Seth did as Mrs. Hancock suggested and looked up all the snakes in his area. He figured if he knew what they looked like he might have an edge on them. Knowledge is the key to most concerns in our daily lives. The Eco System is most important for all beings and the cycle of life continues on a daily basis.
Question: Does a round pupil in the eye of a snake mean that the snake is poisonous?
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved