A Cozy Little Snake

Hi, Mr. Nature here–with an animal that possibly lives in your own back yard without your ever having seen it: DeKay’s snake, aka the brown snake.

I know, I know, quite a few of you are afraid of snakes. But these are very small, totally harmless, and of a very meek temperament: I’ve caught many of them by hand, and not one has ever tried to bite me. Anyhow, they couldn’t hurt you if they wanted to, and they seem to know it. Most of them, when caught and handled, calm down in a matter of seconds. They used to be pretty common in my neighborhood, but what with the perpetual war on nature that goes on in New Jersey, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen one. I miss them.

These little snakes live in leaf litter, where their small size and generally brown or greyish coloration helps them blend into the background. They eat bugs and slugs and grubs, and the occasional earthworm–in fact, they eat a lot of things that any gardener would want them to eat.

Again, they never try to bite when you pick them up. No self-respecting Northern water snake would ever let you get away with that. DeKay’s snake is not a very exciting snake–which is the way I like them.

So there you have it, more of God’s stuff–a little animal that’s pretty to look at, easy to handle, and does no harm whatsoever. It deserves the right to go about its peaceful little business unmolested.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

12 responses to “A Cozy Little Snake

  • Linda Sorci

    We had a cute little snake in South Florida – a ringneck. They don’t get very big and are quite shy and docile – a very small, sleek snake. I once had to rescue a ringneck from my friend’s cat. They were both on her porch and her daughter was afraid of the snake and refused to pick it up 🙂

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    • leeduigon

      The ringneck and the DeKay’s snakes are very closely related–and very nice little animals, too.

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      • Linda Sorci

        Yes they are. It always surprises me how many people are afraid of them. Most snakes are not venomous and would much rather be left alone. We did have a few down there that I sure wouldn’t mess with though!

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  • UnKnowable

    Both are cute little critters.

    I don’t understand why so many people hate snakes. There are dangerous snakes and I won’t criticize anyone for taking whatever steps necessary to protect themselves from poisonous snakes in populated areas, but most snakes are harmless should, indeed deserve the right to go about their peaceful little business unmolested.

    From experience, I wills state that snakes are not an easy pet to keep. If anyone wants a pet snake they need to do their homework first and make sure that they have access to the right food, etc.

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  • Linda Sorci

    Coral snakes and Scarlet King Snakes. Many people get them confused, and they’re both really pretty snakes. We have both in Florida, so it’s good to know the poem in case you forget which one is which 🙂 Our version of the poem was a teeny bit different but with the same result: Red touches yellow, you’re a dead fellow; red touches black, you’re okay Jack.

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  • UnKnowable

    That was hilarious. That little King Snake was not happy with being handled.

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    • Linda Sorci

      And notice he held the coral snake by the head so it couldn’t whip around and bite him. He probably held the scarlet king by the tail for the hilarity, knowing it’s bite is harmless 🙂

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      • UnKnowable

        He definitely was not letting the coral snake have any opportunities to sink a fang into him. I’ve never handled a venomous snake and would prefer to never do so in the future. Supposedly, if you know what you are doing you can do so safely, but I’m not interested in approaching the learning curve for that one.

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        • leeduigon

          I think that was what Karl Schmidt, curator of reptiles at the Chicago Zoo, used to say–until a boomslang bit him and killed him.

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          • UnKnowable

            That’s the thing, you only have to make one mistake in order to be killed. I have heard that there are snake enthusiasts whose keep venomous snakes as pets, but I think that is foolhardy.

            There was a kid in the neighborhood where I grew up that had a prairie rattler as a pet, but he never handled it and I think he eventually turned it loose.

            I just can’t see planning oneself in danger. I live in a place where there are all sorts of venomous reptiles and I avoid them as much as possible. They are fascinating and I appreciate them as a wonder of creation, but I keep a safe distance.

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