I say 'first snake of the season' because there will be more. Luckily, the snake is a Texas Rat snake. Often called a Chicken snake because of their tendency to get into chicken coops and eat eggs (hey, easy prey!) and chicks if they happen to be around. While Rat snakes can push 6ft. long, their mouths can't quite manage a full grown chicken.
BUT, speaking of chicks, last night I was getting my chicks one step closer to moving in with the big chickens. With Tom's help, I moved their little coop (a rabbit hutch) into the main chicken run area. They spend their entire day with the other chickens, but sleep in separate quarters for now. The fencing on the rabbit hutch is not small enough to keep snakes out completely. That's why I was a bit disturbed when I looked up to see a snake curled up, napping, in the main chicken coop.
As always, I determined what sort of snake I was dealing with. "Yellowish belly, brightly colored scales, splotchy/circular patterned back, rounded head, perfectly round eyes----Rat snake. Harmless."
I went and found a bucket with a lid, and located my snake stick from last year (a branch with a V in it). I should have gotten gloves right away, but didn't think about it. My job would have gone much more quickly if I had. My job, by the way, is to move the snake--not kill it. If it weren't for their egg eating tendency, I'd let this one stay. They are fabulous at eating rats and mice--thus the name, Rat Snake.
The plan--harass it and it would come down. Pin it behind its head with my magic stick, pick it up and place it in the bucket. End of story.
The snake had other plans. An hour later (with gloves), I had harassed it enough that it unraveled and I was forced to grab it without help of my stick and pull it out of its hiding place. The gloves were to protect my hands from the obvious--getting bitten. While not venomous, they get pretty angry when they have been poked at for an hour. They do not have fangs. Instead, they have two rows of very sharp, tiny teeth. They kill their prey by constriction. The teeth merely aid them in holding onto it.
The constriction part is what made extracting this snake all the more difficult. They are strong. Very strong. It DID NOT want to be captured. I had to inch it along without really pulling. I didn't want to hurt it. After about 10 minutes, I'd pulled all 6 ft. of it down out of the ceiling and placed it in my bucket.
Until the next snake.....
Because I'm nerdy this way, I did a little more reading on my snakey visitor.
Seems most herpetologists (reptile folks) think Rat Snakes are very aggressive. Yes, this one was aggressive, but I spent an hour ticking it off. When I let it go, it was more than happy to bid me goodbye.
On the other hand, when I had a similar situation happen with a Western Coachwhip snake, it challenged me after I released it. Actually came at me and struck at me a couple times. So, in my opinion, Coachwhips are more aggressive than Rat snakes.