Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Coral Snake

When I returned from a recent trip to the beach, I noticed the dogs were hyper-intent (and with one Jack Russell and one Australian Shepherd trust, this is saying alot) on something that was below the hot tub. The last time I had been around hunting so keen was years ago at the house in Little Rock, when Gizmo (another JRT) was yipping from his crate when I got home at lunch. I thought perhaps he was really needing to go but when I opened the door he leapt down 8 stairs, jumped on the patio door and, as soon as I opened it, pounced onto a tarp-covered pile of pea gravel beside the deck to flush out a huge king snake. It was at this moment I became a believer in the power of the canine snout. It is also a permanent reminder to look for the unexpected when your dogs be ackin' a fool, so I got a stick, just to be safe.

The dogs, of course, relented as soon as they saw the stick because they'd much rather let Daddy handle perplexing dilemmas. I suspected one of their bouncy balls was beneath the hot tub, so as soon as it became apparent there wasn't a varmint I needed to deal with, I stooped down for further inspection. Immediately I recoiled when I saw what appeared to be a coral snake. And by appeared I mean it was a remnant. A remnant right in front of the bouncy blue ball. I have never encountered a coral snake but, growing up in the country and being a full-on yard rat, I was always warned to keep my good eye out for the "red meets yellow bad for fellow" elapid. (Never mind the water moccasins, rattlesnakes, or copperheads ... just watch out for the coral snake.) I knew the snakes prefer underground/undercover locations, are fairly elusive, and aren't prone to strike since they're not a traditional viper and must stay attached to the prey in order for the venom to inject.

Still, I was a bit ooged out because, let's face it, my environment is ideal for a coral snake (obvz), and all I could think was "Did my dogs shred a coral snake and live to tell the story?" Apparently that's the case. I did make the mistake of telling my mother this story over the weekend and of course, this has moved all the way up to her #1 Worry List Item. In fact, it did inspire me to do a bit more research and while I certainly don't want to be flippant, I do think I'm probably OK. I have been doing a bit of gardening so am just remaining more aware and taking precautions like wearing appropriate clothing (OK, that's a lie, it's too hot) using my trusty stick (aka "hoe handle") to poke around before I get busy cultivating.

Here's the Wikipedia entry on coral snakes. I found it interesting, and always enjoy learning something new and confirming facts along the way. In fact, I think that's what should be the epitaph on my grave, "He was all about confirming facts."

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