Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Teachable Moments

This morning when I was hanging the laundry on the line and A was playing in the front yard, she suddenly stopped & said 'Mommy, what's that?!?!" I still can't figure out how she happened to spot it from the distance she was at, but there was a little ribbon snake sitting in the sun & dried leaves along the edge of our front flower bed (much closer to where I was than where she was and *I* certainly didn't see it!). I thought about getting the camera, but honestly, since I'm not one to get CLOSE to such critter, it would have been a "hidden picture" type deal, so I didn't bother. It stayed there while A went in the house and got L, and then, since they were concerned it might be dead (it hadn't moved at ALL) I got a VERY LONG stick and poked at it (logically, I was well aware that an itty bitty snake like that wasn't going to hurt me (it was maybe as big around as my little finger & a foot or two long (I never saw it completely on top of the leaves so hard to gauge length) but I still wasn't getting too close, plus I wanted to set an example of not getting close to snakes to the girls for obvious reasons). I expected that as soon as the stick got anywhere near it, it would be GONE, but it was much less afraid than I expected. And/or couldn't move quickly because of the cold, it was pretty chilly out there today. It really just kinda checked out the stick (sticking it's tongue in & out, which the girls thought was cool) and then lazily moved over against the bricks more, but still hadn't gone out of sight when we went in the house.

I wasn't sure what kind of snake it was so we spent some time looking it up online. The pictures it MOST resembled were actually the WESTERN ribbon snake, but since it seems illogical that we'd see a western ribbon snake in PA, I'm going to assume it was an EASTERN ribbon snake (which IS native to PA) and I just didn't notice/couldn't see the brownish belly that differentiates it from the Western variety. The girls were abit disturbed to hear that ribbon snakes eat frogs and toads, but decided our yard was big enough for a snake AND the toads they are hoping to entice into their toad house next year. I assurred them that this particular ribbon snake was small enough that it couldn't eat very big frogs/toads. And didn't bother to point out that there might be bigger snakes around too.

While we were watching it, I took the opportunity to discuss with the girls the fact that we NEVER go near snakes, even if we know what kind of snake it is, even non-poisonous snakes can bite, so it's just a general "stay away" rule. As is expected, A was much more "on board" with that rule than Miss Adventurous L.

I'm trying not to think about the fact that if mice can get into our house (which I assume they can, considering how many we caught earlier this fall, surely that many didn't live undetected in our house all summer), then a snake that size could VERY EASILY get in. I think I'll be stepping quite gingerly in the basement for awhile LOL.

Honestly, if I must see a snake in my yard, I'd just as soon see a nice healthy looking black snake. While I certainly don't want one too close to me, I like the comfort of knowing that black snakes & copperheads don't co-habitate so as long as black snakes are around, copperheads AREN'T!! And, as dh pointed out, snakes eat mice, which can be a good thing, but a black snake would be a better choice for that job than an itty bitty ribbon snake.

It added abit of excitment to our morning, and a nice science lesson to break things up since we're not doing any science right now :)


Karla @ Ramblin' Roads said...

*shudder* I have an aversion to snakes myself! I wouldn't have gotten the camera either!

Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you'll come again soon.

Ann@His Grace To Me said...

We live in snake country, and I try my best to avoid snake-related teachable moments! Ha! We have encountered a few, they were interesting, I must admit.