Sunday, July 16, 2017

Archie the Snake Killer

I have had resident northwestern garter snakes in my yard since I moved in. They live in the cool crawl space under my house, and I think that they dig into the dirt there to overwinter. I've seen them in all sizes so I know that they reproduce too. I am careful to avoid them when mowing--they like to bask in the sun in the mornings and don't always move out of the way without a nudge. Northwestern garter snakes aren't particularly large, they aren't aggressive or poisonous, and although sadly they eat up all the toads, they also eat slugs and other creatures that I would rather not have in my yard. I keep deep bark mulch around all my bushes and flowering plants and the snakes like to hang out in the loose mulch around the base of the larger ones. In short, they have fairly predictable behaviors and routines like any other animal.

Northwestern Garter Snake.

Because he is a fox terrier, Archie is extremely alert to movement. The snakes attract his attention immediately. He is also quite smart, and he has figured out their routines and behaviors just like I did.

Archie hunts those garter snakes. He lurks around the larger bushes or systematically searches through larger sunny patches. And when he finds one, he kills it by grabbing it behind the head and shaking the life out of it. He whips those poor snakes so fast that blood comes out of all of their orifices. He then guards the dead snake for a few minutes--I've seen him snap at Mimi to chase her away from his precious prize--but he eventually loses interest and heads off to look for more trouble elsewhere.

Here he is with snake blood on his shoulders and paws (he gets it on both sides and on his head but you only need one gory photo as evidence). He doesn't roll on the snakes. This blood is from the snake smacking into him as he whips it back and forth.

I keep part of the yard fenced off so the snakes have a safe space to cavort, but they insist on coming into the main yard where Archie inevitably finds them. While I am sad for the snakes, there is not much else that I can do to protect them. And Archie is acting like a fox terrier is supposed to act. Other than giving him a bath afterwards, I don't intervene. In fact, I'm rather impressed with his dedication to this activity.

Archie the Snake Killer. It would make a good tattoo!