Speckled kingsnakes take over southwest Mississippi

It seems like there are not many people who are really fond of our slithery neighbors in the woods and waterways.  Maybe it is a holdover from the serpent that helped make fools of Adam and Eve, or maybe it is just the alien-ness of the scales and cold blood – but unless you are a herpetologist at heart, chances are that you don’t like the look and feel, or even the thought, of a snake.

There are “good” snakes though.  Take the speckled kingsnake, for instance.  This is the most abundant variety of kingsnakes in our area, and they eat rodents and other snakes, helping control populations of mice, rats, moles, and even the dreaded copperhead!

I don’t know if it was the unexpectedly early spring or the exceptionally rainy weather this year, but we’ve seen way more snakes this year than we ever have.

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For instance, during a hike a couple of weeks ago we walked right up on this speckled king snake sitting at head level in a tree!  Then the next day, we saw a copperhead coiled up in a tree about 3-4 feet off the ground.  Did you know that snakes climb trees?  I knew it, and had seen videos, but had never seen a snake in a tree in person. What’s next, snakes on a plane?

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And just last week, Elise found this huge speckled kingsnake hanging around our back porch.  She grabbed it by the tail and held it up above her shoulder height to measure it, so it was a good 5-6 foot reptile.  She thinks it is the same one that she saw a couple of years ago, but which disappeared under our house.  She let it coexist down there and sure enough – we haven’t seen any mice in our house since then.  If it is the same snake, it has grown significantly in the last couple of years!