Early in March, I mentioned that we had seen a big old snake in one the bushes in front of our house. I was all disappointed that day, because I didn't get a chance to look at him. Little did I anticipate that the snake would become a semi-permanent fixture!
We saw him a few days later, and then again several more days later, and then eventually realized that the snake had made a home in our front flower beds. My friend Marlene and Morgan have named him Sunshine, which is an amusing name for a big black snake, I think. We do usually find him basking in the sunshine.
He is definitely an Eastern Kingsnake--a Good Guy snake who will eat other snakes, including pit vipers. Sunshine has not shown any inclination to climbing our steps and heading inside the house, so we've left him alone. He's a bit over 3 feet long, I think, but I haven't seen him stretched all the way out to get a good estimate.
Here he is, you can see about half of him:
Here he is starting to curl himself into a coil:
Every time we leave or enter the house, we look for Sunshine and talk to him. If he's there, he'll just sit there, usually. Sometimes he'll slink back under the bush. If he's not there, we'll imagine out loud where he might be and what he might be doing. We have learned tons about Eastern Kingsnakes and the kids were thrilled when my sister found one of Sunshine's old snake skins lying around! (I don't think my sister was nearly as thrilled, but she held it together, like the trooper she is.) And of course I have stressed basic snake safety with the kids--not to reach hands into the bushes lest we surprise him, for example.
I used to live in abject horror of snakes--I can't stress enough how terrified I was of them. I didn't want to pass on my fear to my kids (I think if they see Mommy freak out about something, then they're more likely to decide that that something is worth freaking out about, if you know what I mean). One day I was watching Crocodile Hunter and marveling at Steve Irwin's ability to, you know, just go and pick up some mega-dangerous critter and talk about how beautiful it was, when it occurred to me that the snakes almost always seemed to be trying to get away from him.
It was then that I realized that the snakes weren't out to get me and over the years I have slowly gotten over my fear. We see snakes often in the spring and summer here and I'm glad that I don't nearly pass out when we see them. Morgan is not really a big fan, but Ryan enjoys going on our Snake Walks (as we call them) with me, and helping me spot them.
I like our Sunshine and hope he sticks around and also really, really hope that he's a boy snake. :o) A friend of mine who only lives a few miles away just found a copperhead in their yard the other day and hopefully Sunshine will take care of any similar problem for us.
So if you ever come for a visit, Beware of Snake! He won't do anything to you, but he might surprise you if you aren't expecting to see him.