Overrun with disease-carrying…
…crop-munching, wire-stripping, landscape-killing rodents? Get a snake.
-by Becky Baker
Image is everything
In keeping with my quest to alter the perception of some of the creepier critters that live around us, I’m taking on a huge task this time.
We all have seen them, the little rodents running around outside or occasionally inside our homes. Anything from a common mouse in the garage, to a cute little chipmunk in the flowerbed, to a mole installing a subway system in your front yard. They can spread disease, ruin crops, and even eat into the wiring on your house or car.
By now you’re probably thinking that I’m going to talk all about rodents and how we should learn to live with them. Not so. What I want to discuss is how to keep them in check.
In the past, cats were often kept for this purpose. We all have friends who have had barn cats to help control the pest population on their farms. Today cats are mostly kept indoors and their main job is to ignore the staff, otherwise known as their pet parents, who cater to their every need.
There is always the use of traps, although that can be a little too up close and personal for those with an aversion to actually seeing and coming into contact with the offending rodent.
Many opt for poison to deal with the problem, but that brings up a lot of other issues. If you have kids or pets this is definitely not an option. Even if you are kid-free, both human and four-legged, you run the risk of the poison getting into the ecosystem. This can happen in many ways, but some of the most dramatic consequences occur when the poison makes its way into the food chain. Say a fox finds a dead chipmunk and thinks it’s his lucky day that a meal just fell into his lap. Only problem is that the poison may still be in the chipmunk making this anything but a happy meal for the fox.
Now if you are lucky enough to have birds of prey in your neighborhood you may not have much of a rodent problem. The day shift can consist of anything from an American Kestrel to a Red-Tailed Hawk. After dark a variety of owls take over.
While this air attack can provide a lot of support in this war on terrorizing pests, I contest that we also need some ground forces to help us out. Enter another one of my wildlife friends: snakes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do draw the line at venomous snakes when they are in close proximity to us or our pets. After living in Arizona, the rattlesnake capital of the world, I have a great respect for them.
When confronted by rattlesnakes in what I’ll call “my space” I have had many of them relocated by professionals, who for some reason do such things. But there was one time when I shot the interloper that dared take up residence in our bedroom, on the dog bed of all places.
What I want to try and change is the attitude of many of you that “the only good snake is a dead snake.” We have lots of black snakes on our property. The largest one we’ve come in contact with is about 5 feet long. I can hear the screams now – it’s anaconda all over again! They’re going to eat my small dog or they’ll get into the house through the plumbing. No and no. I realize there are those of you who will never like snakes and I’m not asking you to. I’m just suggesting that you leave them alone and let them do their jobs. If you see one in your yard or crossing the road, just let it go on its way. They really don’t want to be near you any more than you want to be near them.
Snakes are excellent at taking the war to where the rodents live. Not many methods of control can claim that. No muss, no fuss and the best part is, you rarely even see them.
So, you have a choice to make. Without snakes we could be overrun with disease-carrying, crop-munching, wire- stripping, landscape-killing rodents. Or you could live and let live, and allow the snakes to do what they do best. Eat!