19 June 2012

Naughty Snake

I have always been fascinated by snakes.  While most people cringe at the thought of letting one wrap its smooth, scaly body around their fingers, I find it rather interesting.  Garter snakes are probably my favorite because of their striking design and the fact that they're a fairly friendly, non-venomous type.

I've read before that children are most likely to glean their own fears from what their mothers fear.  If a mother climbs up on the table and screams when a spider darts across the floor, it wouldn't be surprising if later in life, her children did the same.  As for snakes?  Well, we love snakes.
Last year we didn't spot many garter snakes and if we did, they were always too quick to escape.  Imagine my surprise when one slithered frantically by in the short grass as we returned from feeding the horses.  He knew he'd made a mistake being out in the wide open because there were no trees or bushes or holes to escape to.  I reached down and grabbed him and though he tried to put up a fuss, realized he was caught.

He was sure one feisty garter snake.  He wriggled and writhed and when it didn't work, latched on to my finger.  Garter snakes do have teeth to help them pull down their meals and though I'm sure he was giving it his all, he had the biting force of a cotton puff.
Evelyn and Claire naturally squealed with delight and giggled as they ran their fingers down his smooth back.  After a few minutes of playing with the snake, I announced I was going to release him and asked if Evelyn wanted to hold him.  She reached out her hands and was doing her best to be gentle with the delicate creature.
It was all chuckles and grins until the snake decided to try again a previously unsuccessful tactic:
Claire had already lost interested and was trying to lure the cats out through the kitty door.
That garter snake seemed convinced he was a rattle snake.  He struck quickly but Evelyn reacted just as fast.  She shrieked her surprise and I caught the snake as she dropped him.
She cried in shock that her new friend would do something so unkind to her.  We talked a minute about it and when I asked whether or not she'd hold a snake again, she contemplated and said, "Only the good snakes.  Not the naughty ones."  I don't know that I'll be able to tell the difference when we come across the next snake, but I'm sure she'll tell me.

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