Rattlesnake Encounters

I get that fear is genuine. We have just emerged from two years of it gripping not just people, but countries and the global community as we reacted to news of a pandemic. It became a real test of character and an opportunity to reflect on how we receive information. Are we plugged into media for our news, or are we trusting our inner compass, our guidance, our instincts? Who are we, and what are we made of? Are we so afraid that, in the belief that we are keeping ourselves and others safe, we became as schoolyard bullies? But this post is not about ‘that.’ It is about how aware we are of our own fear, and how we manage it, or at its worst manifestation, how we allow it to control our lives.

Fear is the instinct these bodies were equipped with in order to ensure the perpetuation of our species. All creatures possess it, each to their kind. We react, and the difference between a human reaction and an animal’s is complex. All reside here on this planet, and just because we can eliminate another’s life due to our fear of it doesn’t make it right. Yet many do not even ask critical questions of themselves, though I am quite certain Indigenous people did, and many still do.

Late yesterday afternoon, I was drawn to sit on the steps leading to our front garden area. Daylight was waning, clouds were billowing and amassing as they do this time of year, and after hours in the hot sun giving the bigger trees a deep drink in the midsummer heat, those steps were calling me. As I settled onto the flagstone, something obviated itself in the corner of my vision. My body reacted for a flash, no longer, a visceral startle response, and I did not make more of it, did not escalate it into fight or flight panic. I realize we all have control over this escalation, yet many are like one of those cars that goes from zero to sixty in six seconds. Instinct, fear, panic, reaction. Humans are, as I say, perhaps the most complex species. We are so confused with undefined and unconscious fears that we have driven thousands of unique and beautiful species of animals from this earth.

I realized I had a visitor. Well, hello, friend, I said in a quiet voice. The visitor looked at me with similar curiosity, no doubt, and we sat in silence and allowed one another time and space to adjust. We are both creatures who like our space, I mused, not that dissimilar or unusual in that respect. And yes, this small one possesses the power to kill, as do I. It doesn’t have to define this moment, or any other. After a bit longer, the rattler pulled its head back, not to strike, but to redirect its body into a turn, and it glided off toward the rock wall, making its way slowly, as do I when in new surroundings, as s/he settled under a low-lying shrub for what I suspected was the evening.

Earlier in the day, our dogs were in their large enclosure, and they would not stop barking. Last time this happened, a large bull snake had decided their hay bed was a nice cool place to spend the day. Chris emerged from his shop, and I from the house, as we walked to their yard to determine what was agitating them. As we approached, we heard a rattle. If you have never heard this sound, it is pretty unusual, and unique to the species that claims it. I am small, and I am just as afraid of you as you are of me! Please give me space to determine my next move! There s/he was, curled up in Peanut’s hay bed, eyes bright, rattle erect and vibrating. We released the dogs to relocate to the house, and I spent a moment communicating to the snake that it needed to find another place to hang out. An hour later, I checked and it was gone. Later that evening, I believe it was the same creature who met me in the garden.

This morning, Peanut was again uneasy. Chris walked around the corner of the house and came upon the rattler and a mouse, clinging to the rock wall above it. We had been setting traps and checking all the minute places where rodents might gain access to the inner walls of the house in exactly this corner. Nature knows we abhor killing when there are other options, and now this. I don’t believe I am imagining that the snake appeared as our rodent trap, providing her/him food whilst eliminating some of our rodent issues. Last year, we had rodents chewing wires under the hoods of our vehicles. A prairie rattler, same variety as the one I speak of here, took up residence under a pile of stacked lumber.

I know some might fear snakes, spiders, jellyfish, whatever. All I am asking is that people explore the origin of these fears, and consider the options of peaceful coexistence on a planet already in crisis due to the care-less actions of our species. In the immortal words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

 

Our morning visitor ~ bj 2021

12 thoughts on “Rattlesnake Encounters

    1. It is! People freak out when they hear a rattle, but they’re not going to rush to bite! Only if we genuinely pose a threat to their lives. And you can’t blame them now, can you? Thanks, Eliza. 🙏💓

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  1. I agree with your message wholeheartedly, with a caveat. We are very snake friendly here. Lots of rat snakes, some king snakes, garters, ringnecks, water snakes, black racers, hognose, worm snakes, we have lots of snakes. Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, and Cottonmouth as well.

    Rat snakes and king snakes are very docile, they will bite of course when you catch one, but they soon realize you are not a threat and they become quite friendly. I was telling someone recently once they calm down you can wear one as a necklace if you were so inclined. They chill out pretty quickly. We catch and release them here on a regular basis. I have even found a couple of rat snakes in the house over the years. We just let them go.

    Never try to be friendly with a black racer. That one starts mean and stays mean.

    But all that said, if I had a pit viper in my yard, and to date I have never seen one in my yard, but if/when I do, there is a good chance I’ll take that one out. I’m very snake friendly when they are not venomous. They can be venomous anywhere they want to, besides at my place. I have 3 dogs and several humans that use these 5 acres, I’d not see any of them getting hurt by a pit viper that I let go when I had the opportunity to kill it.

    Now when I encounter pit vipers anywhere but my place, and I often do, I leave them be. It’s different when I’m in their yard. We are river rats, creek walkers, and outdoors types in general, we see the pit vipers often, but I’m not going to bother them in their house.

    Technically it could be said that my house is in their house, but my responsibility to protect me and mine kicks in at home.

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    1. Shell, points taken. I have never lived in the south, and I can only imagine some of the snake varieties you encounter there. I grew up with king snakes and gopher snakes, both of which we could drape over our necks quite beautifully. Pythons too. I raised my daughters with snakes as well.

      This said, our dogs gave the rattler a wide berth, and the rattler of course avoided them, in turn. I have never had problems with rattlesnakes. I have only heard about pit vipers and black racers, and seen them in animal parks behind glass.

      The reason I wrote the post had more to do with people hating what they do not understand, knee jerking to the point of annihilating and occasionally driving animals to extinction, taking all forms of life including human life without forethought. Clearly you have experienced and given great consideration to the snake varieties that you know could be and likely would be fatal. So thank you for bringing up that subject. It is an important one. 🙏🐍💓

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      1. I absolutely get where you are coming from. I try my best to talk to people about snakes when I can. It’s silly to kill snakes willy nilly just because it’s a snake. Learn the snakes in your area. Most are benign creatures just looking to get along in the world as we are. Just remember “wedge head will kill ya dead,” 😉 And in reference to a coral snake “red touches yellow will kill a fellow.”

        Not being snarky, but pit viper comprises a group of venomous snakes, including the rattler. There are other venomous snakes that aren’t pit vipers, but most in the states are. The coral snake is a venomous snake in the states not in the pit viper group. The pit viper can generally be recognized by it’s triangular, wedge shaped head. And if you are close enough to see the wedge head, you are close enough to warrant great caution! I clearly spend too much time outdoors…

        Your dogs are much smarter than mine! My stupid dogs would probably try to play with a rattlesnake. Hey look! A new Stick!

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      2. Yes. Prairie rattlers can of course kill. But i have never felt the least bit of aggression from them. Have had them play dead, now and again, just to get rid of us. 😂 I don’t know that it’s possible to spend too much time outdoors. That’s where I have lived most of my life, observing all i see! Carry on, shell! 🙏🌎💕

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  2. What a profound post Bela…. Encompassing many levels of fear we humans hold. and yet if we but pause for one moment to ‘FEEL’ into a situation, we may find different solutions to the regular fight or flight mode we usually engage in..

    So I was enthralled to read of your inner dialogue with Mr Rattler, I wonder how many people would understand the connection is of a conscious level of sending that vibration out of no fear… And Like you said the Universe usually sends us the solutions to our problems… And the snake a perfect rodent controller ..

    I remember my daughter move in alone when she first left home into a small very old rented cottage… the walls were so think and the stone work bare inside… So it was no surprise that she had an infestation of spiders that would come out all over the place..
    She didn’t particularly like spiders, but wouldn’t harm them…
    So she set about talking to the insect deva’s and telling them they could share her space and were very welcome… But would they mind coming out only at night when she didn’t see them..

    If she got up in the night she would spot them… But in the day they hid away… One she knew lived under the cupboard in her kitchen… She even named him Fred….. And I caught a glimpse of Fred once,, and he was huge…. 🙂

    So I fully got your conversation with Mr Rattler… and the mutual respect you have for each others boundaries

    Much love Bela…… love Sue âĪ

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    1. Sue, thanks for affirming my experience. You restate it beautifully, especially the subtler aspects. And what a fun story about your daughter and spiders! Another wholly misunderstood species. Like the snake, the spider seems to evoke fear and repulsion in many humans, yet is not out to ‘get’ anybody. (Can’t say the same for our own species now, can we? 🙄) Certainly not anything as huge as a human. I don’t think either snakes or spiders are cruising along, just waiting to expend their precious venom on a human being. We have a sweet spider living in our laundry room. It has built a hammock web, something I have never seen before! It hides behind a framed picture and I see it only rarely. Meanwhile, it is collecting flies for feasting on later. 😉 again like the snake, it is taking care of an annoying problem to us. House flies and mice in walls are not our favorite encounters! Bless the beasts. ðŸĪ— Love to you, my friend.

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