I guess it’s time for me to accept the fact that most folks just don’t like snakes.

Even the good ones.

I recently watched a neighbor at the lake kill a bull snake. I’d offered to relocate the serpent, which had interrupted a brush-clearing project, but was told the situation was under control.

A short while later I saw the neighbor wielding a rake.


Whap, whap, whap!


Then I saw the limp snake tossed unceremoniously into the lake.

For a couple of minutes the neighbor leaned on his rake and watched the water, fearing, I’m sure, that the snake would return to life and come after him.

I stewed for a bit at the ignorance of it all before chanting my mantra: I’m the odd one, not them. I’m the odd one, not them.

I’ve always been fascinated by snakes while few others are. In fact most people find them revolting. My Aunt Bettye refused to visit for an entire summer when I was a kid after one of the garter snakes I kept in my room escaped its cage.

I could have pointed out to my neighbor that killing a snake that eats rodents and kills rattlesnakes is just plain stupid, but I’ve found that doing so is seldom well-received.

People don’t like to be told they’re stupid, especially if they are.

My concern for the well-being of bull snakes, however, may do little to ensure their survival. The wild pigs amassing at the Canadian border will be here soon enough, and they‘ll eat them all, along with every other critter they can root out.

Those same folks who dream of a snake-free world probably aren’t as worried about the pigs. Pigs, after all, don’t slither, and make better table fare.

“Bring ‘em on,” I’ve heard said. “We’ll shoot ‘em all.”

Good luck with that.

Pigs in the wild are an ecological disaster. Nonetheless, they aren’t feared nearly as much as snakes, even harmless ones.

Tell folks that pigs eat snakes, and they’ll be welcomed with open arms, even if it means the demise of another species native to Montana.

It would do me well to keep my affection for reptiles to myself. No one wants to hear what a fascinating creature the bull snake is. They just give me a look and excuse themselves. I’m not one of them anymore.

On the other hand, aren’t those piglets cute?

Can you say “Soooee!”

Parker Heinlein is at pman@mtintouch.net.