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by Ann Ulrich Miller

Posted on October 31, 2009 by Web Dreams

A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY?

The following correspondence came from a reader regarding "Granny Kills Copperhead on Jackson Run."

By any chance, do you realize that "copperhead" you killed was a harmless northern water snake? I've learned to accept people's behaviors when they kill a venomous snake ONLY if it poses a threat living near their house. Although I don't agree with it, I have nevertheless learned to accept it. Killing a venomous snake is one thing. Killing a harmless snake is another thing. But, killing a HARMLESS SNAKE and posting it on the internet FOR EVERYONE TO SEE...quite disappointing. Please note that I'm normally a generous person and do not get ticked like this. But, this is an exception. Why don't you go BACK TO YOUR NATIVE REDNECK TOWN of EUROPE, LEARN a thing or maybe EVEN TWO, and perhaps BE SMART ENOUGH TO RECOGNIZE A VENOMOUS SNAKE FROM A HARMLESS ONE. Maybe even take a third-grade level zoology course and learn that A SNAKE CAN STILL ****ing MOVE due to their NERVES. Tell you what, if you were MY grandmother, I'd jump off a cliff. I'd suggest you think more carefully about what you did if you want to make something worthy out of yourself before you die, gramma.

-Jonathan

My Response:


My goodness, Jonathan, such a reaction to my story! I'm sorry it hit a nerve. For your information... and maybe you'd better brush up on your herpetology a bit... a copperhead IS a venomous snake, and this one was threatening my dog, my cat and my pullets. Ordinarily we do not kill anything. My late husband, who had been within only a few feet of the snake's location while seated on a wheelchair, was one who would come and rescue rattlesnakes from people's yards in the Sonoran desert and take them in his truck and release them SAFELY in the wild, where they were out of harm's way. We killed only this one snake, and it was self defense, not out of any irrational fear to kill a snake. For heaven's sake... how would you feel if you were in a position where your loved ones were in danger? We couldn't take the chance of having anyone bitten. The man who lived in our house on that property had been bitten by a copperhead three times and almost died in the hospital. Yes, absolutely, I felt badly about killing this creature. And I don't understand what you are talking about... European redneck town??? I live in Colorado now. Get a grip, man. Reserve your judgment of others and experience peace in your troubled life. And... for your own sake, go to your library and check out a book on reptiles and poisonous snakes.
 

AND THEN...

Ann... perhaps you should take a closer look at my first sentence. See, the picture of the snake you posted was NOT a copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), but it was a NORTHERN WATER SNAKE (Nerodia sipedon). Yes, copperheads are venomous, but northern water snakes are NOT, which is what you killed; just a harmless snake. Now if you don't mind, let me suggest to YOU that you learn to distinguish a venomous pit viper from a harmless water snake. As for finding "peace" in my life... well, let's take a broad viewpoint here... you killed a snake rather than capturing and releasing it, and I simply expressed my opinion on that. Let's take a nationwide vote here; who's the one who needs peace, you or me?
Now if the snake you killed WERE to be a copperhead, I wouldn't have spent two minutes of my life typing this. Even then, it would be more peaceful to have captured and released it. Also, I suggest that if you don't like venomous snakes, you should either 1) move to an urban area or 2) learn that even VENOMOUS SNAKES HAVE A PLACE IN THEIR ECOSYSTEM. Sorry I had to react like this; you seem like a good-hearted person, but you really should learn a thing or two about native wildlife and their corresponding ecosystem...
northern water snake


Jonathan

AND MY RESPONSE:

Thanks, Jonathan. It's possible you could be right. At the time my late husband told me it was a copperhead and we did not take the time to consult a book. One reason I took the picture was to verify it... and MY snake book revealed it was a copperhead... so did many of my neighbors. If I made a mistake, I'm sorry... let God be the judge, not a human being. I was only trying to protect my loved ones. Ordinarily I would not kill anything and I hope you understand that. I am a new ager and believe that all life is sacred. The fact that I've feared snakes all my life is something I have not uncovered yet in my search for understanding. But I do know they are valuable in the ecosystem and, naturally, I reacted to YOUR reaction... so forgive me for being human and trying to defend my position. And thank you once again for responding to my story. I hope you have a good day.

northern copperhead


AND FINALLY...


Thanks Ann. It's just frustrating for me to see dead snakes shot and beaten to death so often. Sometimes I wonder why all wildlife can't be admired or otherwise, (in the case of a venomous snake) be moved to a remote area. I guess it's just something the world will have to deal with. Personally, I admire all snakes and none have earned more of my respect than the venomous pit vipers (rattlesnakes, copperheads/cottonmouths, etc). Not to mention, they're VERY shy and try their best to avoid humans. Note that they're much more afraid of us than we are of them! The first two pictures are of a northern water snake and the last two of a copperhead. The main way to distinguish them is the copperhead has vertical pupils. Copperheads will also have a definitive thinned neck immediately meeting a wide, rounded head. Also note that many snakes (including the northern water snake) will flatten their heads out, so "wide head = venomous" isn't the best way to distinguish venomous snakes. Thanks again and have a good one.

Jonathan

 

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