Monday, September 20, 2010

Red Touches Yellow

Kill a fellow.
Red touches black, venom lack.

I spent a half hour trying to find out whom to attribute that common poem to. Couldn't find it.
I did find several variations on it. They all mean the same thing.
If you come across a snake that has three banded colors (red, black, and yellow), recite that poem before you freak out and run for a shovel. Or just run.
I was out mowing the property today, and this snake made a dash for it when I mowed too close to his rocky home. And I do mean dash. He was movin'. I am firmly in the 'live and let live' camp when it comes to critters. This one, however, is one that had to be killed.
Here is why:

Coral Snake

This snake is not to be confused by the similar colored and non-venomous Milk Snake, whose red and black bands connect. Remember “Red and Yellow kills a fellow, Red and Black is a friend to Jack.” Mostly the coral snakes in the eastern part of the state eat snakes and those in western part eat lizards. They tend to be very shy and secretive and will spend most of their time underground, in deep leave litter, dens and burrows. There is no anti-venom being manufactured in the United States that is available for people bitten by this snake. They possess the most potent venom out of any North American snake, but thankfully account for less than one percent of the number of annual snake bites. Respiratory paralysis can occur suddenly or within hours after a coral snake bite, therefore intubation and ventilation should be employed in a victim in anticipation for this.

I like snakes. I think they are beneficial. I think they can be beautiful.
This one is very beautiful.
If it had been any other kind of snake (yes, even a rattle snake) I would have let it go. It's just the idea of one of my kids ending up in the ER fighting for their life with no anti-venom that tips the scale in my decision making.


  1. I can tell it bothered you to kill it. You had no choice. Not having an anti-venom is all you need to know. You're right, it's just not worth the risk. You did the right thing :)
    Amy at Verde Farm

    PS-Great blog-I just found you!

  2. "Zero to the Bone" is how Emily Dickinson describes the feeling of coming upon a snake unaware. That little beauty would not be a good neighbor. So handsome and yet so dangerous.

  3. Don't blame you at all! But why do you live in TX again where nearly everything will kill you?

  4. Welcome Amy, thanks for the compliment.

    Leenie, I was unaware that anyone had come up with a description like that. Dickinson hit the nail on the head.

    Warren, not everything will kill me. You just have to know how to get out of the way. :)

  5. Holy crap, CeeCee! I'm glad you're alright. I'll second what Verde Farm said... I totally understand why you had to kill it.

  6. I totally understand why you had to kill it. I also don't like to kill harmless "critters" just because I find them in my lawn (unless it is a mouse of course). But something that might kill me has to go.

  7. A very big Ewwwww! Glad we don't see these in PA!! We do have rattlers and copperheads, though! Yikes!

  8. Justine and Linda, it did pain me to kill it. Had to be done.

    Welcome Beverly, I am jealous of all your critters. Wonderful blog.

    What must be noted is that Coral Snakes do not have 'fangs' per say. They cannot inject you like a rattlesnake can. They have to sort of chew on you to get any poison into you. Most folks won't allow chewing. Still, not a chance that I'll take with my kids.

  9. Aw, I know you hated doing it. I would too. But I think you're right - can't risk having it so close. They sure are beautiful snakes though, aren't they?

  10. Oh I hear you - you were quite lucky not to have been bitten, being so close! I don't think anyone I know actually ENJOYS killing, but when it comes to one's own safety (and family) you'd be crazy NOT to.

  11. If red touches black your ok Jack, but if red touches yellow your a dead fellow!!!!