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A couple of days ago I saw a snake on the front walk. It was slithering left, from the front steps, towards the bushes in front of the garage.

The snake was about 2 feet long, mostly black, with bright yellow rings about every inch. I felt slightly alarmed, and went for the camera, but, by the time I got back, the snake was nowhere to be seen.

Later, I looked up some snake pictures and decided it was most likely a non-venomous King Snake, (not a venomous Coral Snake!). King Snakes are considered an asset to any garden. They are constrictor snakes, and eat mice, rats and other live meat.

This morning, I listened to "O'Neill Outside" on the radio. One of the callers mentioned Georgia State law protects all non-venomous snakes. Killing any non-venomous snake can result in a $1,000 fine, and up to a year in jail. That's good to know.

An hour later, I listened to Walter Reeves "Georgia Gardener", and he mentioned King Snakes, with a link to this picture of one kind of King Snake eating another (I'm thinking, "coincidences!"):

King Snake Cannibal!

I wonder whether I will see the snake again, or whether it slithers farther down the creek.

I hope it stays.


He laid in the sun;

so black and white,

so big, he looked so heavy.

Striped and fat,

he laid on the road by my grandmother’s house.

He’s wearing prisoner’s clothes, I said;

prisoners always wore black and white stripes

in the movies my grandmother liked.

She laughed;

you say the craziest things sometimes,

she eased him back to the weeds with a stick.

My grandmother lived in a house in the country.

A cold green creek ran through the yard.

It’s full of snakes, she used to say

and I pictured a deep, dark pit filled with vipers.

A day or two passed and he laid there again,

on the road in front of my grandmother’s house;

I asked her,

did he go to snake heaven;

he was dry as the dust,

still in his prisoner’s clothes.

I pictured a cold green pool in the sky

like the creek that ran through my grandmother’s yard.

She laughed;

the things you come up with, she said.

But to this day I hope he is there—

he is still so heavy, to me.

Kingsnakes are North American constrictors that eat small animals and eggs. They get their name from the fact that they often eat other snakes, including rattlesnakes and other venomous snakes. They are non-venomous, but are still sometimes considered pests as they will eat eggs and chicks; usually they are tolerated or encouraged in rural settings, as they eat mice, rats, and other pests.

The label 'kingsnake' refers to any member of the genus Lampropeltis, which consists of four species and dozens of subspecies. These snakes are almost always named as a kingsnake (e.g., Speckled kingsnake, Prairie kingsnake) or a milk snake (e.g. Guatemalan milk snake, Mexican milk snake), and some may be known as either depending on local dialect, e.g. the scarlet kingsnake AKA scarlet milk snake.

For many Americans, the most famous members of this group are the scarlet kingsnake, Mexican milk snake, and red milk snake, as these are the three with bright red, black, and yellow stripes, making them easy to confuse with the very venomous coral snake.

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