Wednesday, May 25, 2011

R.I.P., Sr. Copperhead

A perhaps more productive use of a hoe: killing copperhead snakes.

There are only three types of poisonous snakes in New York State: the timber rattlesnake, the massasauga and the copperhead. The former two have a rattle at the end of their tails. The copperhead does not. It has a medium brown body with lighter brown spots, a classic reptile pattern. These snakes are supposedly better left alone because they do not attack unless attacked themselves. In fact, they are quite sluggish and will stay still if you spot them and keep on walking.

But when you find one while raking up leaves in a part of your property that is heavily trafficked... in a pile you might very well have just picked up with your hands... and with a pet dog who doesn't know whether he's playing with or annoying a snake... your reaction is to get rid of it permanently.

So Jason took a sharpened hoe and beheaded the reptile with one quick blow. While the 2-foot-long body lay there lifeless, the head and stub of a "neck" held on to life for a few good minutes. The mouth opened and closed as if in pain or, rather, as if it wanted to take one last bite out of whatever hit him. It flopped over one way. It flopped over another. It twitched. And when it's eyes finally turned a milky color, we were positive there was no energy left in that thing. It was an intense few minutes, watching another living thing die. I felt badly, but I also now feel a tad safer. And it's a good thing we had looked up pictures of snakes to be able to identify the garter snakes from a copperhead, honestly, just one night before.

Please note: the video below is posted so that you all can witness the vitality of this snake's final moments and share in our empathy for life, not to celebrate or promote the beheading of wildlife.


  1. marisa "short-hauler" brownMay 25, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Disgusto. The slow writhe is truly disgusto.

  2. Be very careful, as even after being severed and appearing "dead", the head of that snake can still bite and deliver venom.

    Next time call me and I'll talk you through skinning and tanning the rest of the snake...makes a great belt or guitar strap!