Snake Bit (kind of) !!!

Yesterday evening was perfect.  A storm was rolling in so the weather was cool and the sunset was the most beautiful shades of pink, orange and red.  My wife and I strolled hand in hand through the yard and noticed all of the things that were blooming or emerging (castor beans).  We went into to the potager and watched the cotton tail that has taken up residence in our “vine garden” (watermelons and sweet potatoes).  While there, my wife noted that the yellow pear tomato was covered so we walked over.  She stood behind me as I gently pulled and handed her handful after handful of these sweet, succulent delights.  As I reached in for the third handful, BAM!!!!  Something hit me in the foot!  It felt like I had been kicked by a small child.  Confused, I looked down and there I saw this:

Turns out that little kick was no kick at all.  I had been struck by a very large and  aggressive Texas Rat Snake.  Now I am no herptologist, so if my i.d. of this snake is wrong please feel free to tell me. 

According to Houston Herpetological Supply this snake is good to have around as it eats primarily rats and mice.  However, it will also eat birds and bird eggs and it can climb trees to accomplish that feat.  Because it is often found around chicken coops, it is often called a chicken snake.  However, it doesn’t eat chickens and rarely eats their eggs (too big).  This snake can be aggressive when encountered in the wild.  It will coil up and strike.  It will also wiggle its tail in leaves so it sounds like a rattlesnake.  Also, it is the largest snake in Harris (and evidently Washington) county and it can reach lengths of over six feet.  This one must have been a teenager as I am guessing it was only four to five feet long.

I am growing my tomatoes on a cattle panel. They are heavily mulched with straw and have drip irrigation. This pic is from about a month ago. They have now formed a very thick and wide hedge that appears to be ideal for snakes to lay under.

Well, that explains it.  An aggresive Texas Rat Snake just did not appreciate me bothering his tomatoes.  Glad I am not afraid of snakes.  If this would have happened to my dad it would have probably killed him.  I was surprised at how determined this guy was to stay in my tomato bushes.  After striking me, he just laid there and looked at me.  He wasn’t moving.  So, I had a choice.  Catch it, kill it or just run it off.  I am not a snake hater so I just chased him off.  My wife was a little dismayed by the fact that he decided to run in the direction of the house. I ran in front of him and he turned and went under a woodpile. 

So, what have I learned from this?

1. Always take a hoe with you into the garden whether you are weeding or not

2.  Always wear shoes (or boots) when you are in the garden

3.  Look before you stick your hands into places you can’t see very well

4.  Snakes like tomatoes

5.  If you have rats in the house or attic, put a rat snake in there (learned this from the website).  They will eat them and then leave.