Yes, seeing you outside the other day was wonderful. But seeing your fellow native wildlife INSIDE my house this morning was decidedly not. It was unacceptable! Suddenly happening upon a very alive and plenty big enough snake inside my house has never happened to me, not in a half-century of Florida living.
Now that it has, I’m not sure I will ever feel really comfortable in my own little habitat again.
You know that maladaptive deer-in-the-headlights frozen thing you did in the middle of the road? That was me, in the middle of my own kitchen. It took me half an hour to get off the stool — and now what?
Dealing With Snakes in Florida’s Residential Areas – Introduction
Steve A. Johnson and Monica E. McGarrity
This is not academic, it is PERSONAL!
As Florida’s human population continues to grow, remaining green spaces continue to be fragmented into even smaller areas of natural habitat. The outcome of this insidious process is the creation of small pockets of wildlife habitat in an otherwise urban or suburban landscape. As a result, encounters with snakes in residential areas are increasingly likely to occur.
When you say residential areas, I thought you meant towns and developments, like in the bushes or on the roadside. If you mean where I reside, as in IN MY HOME, that’s a whole different kettle of, um, tolerance for the environment, way past the reach of what I (until today) liked to congratulate myself for cultivating . . .
Despite the fear that many people experience when they encounter a snake, there is absolutely no cause for alarm when the encounter involves a harmless, non-venomous snake.
Oh yeah? As a multiple degree holder from your research university, I have the highest respect for UF’s academic expertise but sell that line to someone who didn’t just find a SNAKE in her own KITCHEN!!!!!!!!!
Fortunately, most encounters between people and snakes in residential areas involve one of Florida’s 38 native species of non-venomous snakes.
So I should be singing Leonard Berstein — “I feel lucky, oh so lucky” — instead of the Beatles –“Won’t you plee-eeze help me?”
Despite the high diversity of harmless snakes in Florida, many of these species do not thrive in residential areas, and of those that do, some are very secretive and are rarely seen by people.
You can’t fool me, I went to school. If some are secretive and rarely seen, then some others are not so secretive AND I JUST SAW ONE IN MY KITCHEN!!!!!!!
If you are not 100% sure of the identity of a snake just “leave it be.”
It didn’t introduce itself and I had zero interest in its identity, except that it was a SNAKE — in my KITCHEN!!!!!
But now here comes the academic lesson, that like too many public education lessons falls on ears as deaf as a snake’s whenever it runs counter to the interests and concerns and present emotional valence of the individual supposedly being “taught” —
Snakes play important roles in Florida’s ecosystems and help to control rodents (common disease-carrying residential pests) and even other snakes. Some non-venomous species, like the Eastern Indigo Snake and kingsnakes, eat venomous snakes! Snakes also serve as important prey for birds and other animals. Sadly, habitat loss and fragmentation associated with development are serious threats for many snake species, as is wanton persecution by people who are ignorant of the important roles snakes play in Florida’s ecology or who cannot confidently identify snakes.
Several species of Florida’s snakes are now considered threatened or endangered, and even commonly seen species that seem to thrive in urban areas are at risk of being killed by pets, lawnmowers, vehicles, or residents who are unfamiliar with Florida’s snakes.
In residential areas where human-snake encounters are likely, we recommend a three part proactive approach for coexisting safely with snakes:
1. Education – Learn to identify commonly encountered non-venomous and venomous snakes, and teach others – especially children! Learn to understand and respect snakes, and to be safe in areas frequented by snakes.
2. Prevention – Take steps to discourage snakes from entering homes and high-use areas of residential properties, warn children and pets to stay away from areas frequented by snakes, and adopt a “leave it be” attitude.
3. Emergency Plan – Establish an emergency action plan for the unlikely event that a resident, child, or pet is bitten by a venomous snake.
Wanton persecution? Leave it be? In my KITCHEN??
You just lost all credibility with me. And I’m one of the intelligentsia. Good luck with the mob!