Today my most legit phobia in life came into play begging the question, does anyone want to buy a beautiful historic waterfront home on over an acre of land? What's driven me to this point? There's just one GIANT slithering detail!

Our home has a lovely fenced in courtyard with a perfect spot for relaxing around the fire pit.

And the sun rise views over the water are nothing short of breathtaking.

Interested? Because as of today, I've decided there's simply no other option than to put it on the market. Because I have no other choice after what I learned today.

"Why" you might wonder? Sure we've had our share of unexpected...challenges. Mainly that time our heat went out and the house froze and we spent the bulk of a year putting in a new HVAC and plumbing system. But now that we've crossed that hurdle and everything was looking up, we now have the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. 

My parents just arrived at the house for a long weekend only to be greeted by our new welcoming committee. No, it wasn't our darling neighborhood pig that may actually be the single best thing about the neighborhood. 

Instead, it was this grotesque cold blooded slithering joker just hanging around plotting his attack sunning himself.

For anyone that knows me or that's been reading for a while, you may know that my number one fear is snakes. Let me repeat. My number one fear in life is snakes. I'm talking crippling, mind melting, some (Alex) may even suggest irrational and debilitating fear to end all fears, and it's based completely in my own personal neuroticism. These jerks trump monsters under the bed. They trump escalators that grab your shoe laces. They even trump the Wicked Witch's flying monkeys! Snakes. When they appear, I can't conduct myself as a normal human being.

I'm semi-content to remain ignorant on the subject, instructing Alex to just "deal with one if you ever see it in the yard, but don't tell me about it." But now that I'm aware that this, what, at least 28 foot long python is roaming our property, my blissful ignorance has been shattered and we'll be forced to go scorched earth and vacate the premises immediately.

Alex does not agree with my current assessment and required sale, which is lucky for whoever decides to move in, because he's also going to convey with the home. Congratulations on the slightly slow but reasonably competent DIYer that you'll get with the house. He'll probably be around until the day the snake decides to finish him off as a late afternoon snack.

But what I do know is there's a mix of poisonous and "harmless" (though I'm relatively certain even the smallest and most innocuous could easily unhinge its jaw to swallow me whole) snakes in our area. So now I'm legitimately curious, you know, for the future owners of this house, does anyone have an idea of into which category this a-hole falls? 

I'm being told repeatedly that he's a "harmless" black snake (though I'm certain he's already stolen puppies and babies from neighboring homes), and I know it's not a copperhead, but any insight would be appreciated. And aside from keeping the grass mowed, removing hiding places like big bushes and wood piles, and keeping pests/rodents under control, is there much else we can do to keep them away?

Some may think "It's a house on the water with trees and grass around, how could she expect to NOT see a snake?" I understand your thought process on the matter, I see your completely logical point, but it makes absolutely no sense to me and I simply can't comprehend this logic. I think I just need to move to Ireland as St. Patrick made sure we'd never see any snakes in that beautiful land!

On a related note, we coincidentally hired a pest control company to take care of any tick population and they're scheduled to start treatment next week, and that includes snake control. Until then, I'll be safely tucked away in the city, curled in a fetal position, crying and drinking champagne from the bottle.

Comments 52


5/19/2016 at 6:45 PM

At least that guy's outside. My husband once found a (harmless) snake in our basement and unleashed it on me while I was in the bathroom—opened the door a crack, let him in—that was unpleasant.

Karin K
5/20/2016 at 11:53 AM

The fact that he's not referred to as an "ex" is commendable.


I'm with Karin on this one. The fact that you lived through the event and didn't file for divorce is impressive!Alt smile

5/19/2016 at 7:07 PM

So first of all, snakes are venomous not poisonous. The difference is that venom is injected into the body (via fangs or stingers) while poison is consumed (eaten, drunk, inhaled). You can eat a snake and not be poisoned.Alt smile

But secondly, that really is just a harmless black rat snake. They're all black with a little bit of white on their bellies. You can usually tell a venomous snake because they tend to have wedge or arrowhead shaped heads - wider at the jaw where there are venom pockets. Non-venomous snakes don't have a visible "jawline" and have a more sleek head to body transition.

And overall snakes are fantastic to have around your home because they eat spiders and rats and mice and other small critters that might get into your house and do damage.


Kara, THANK YOU! This is what I keep telling Wendy, all of this! This snake will keep the rodents away and do a service to our home. Personally, I'm a total snake lover, and I think it's the thing about me that Wendy likes least. Alas, no matter how many times I try to convince her, I don't think she can be convinced. Alt frowning

5/19/2016 at 7:32 PM

Black snake! Harmless and great for pest control!!

Anne Timpano
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Don't worry, he won't eat much. Or should that be munch? :-)
Shantel Goodman
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Omg I can so relate and I'm so sorry. Don't allow that slithery thing to run you away from your beautiful home....(Says the woman who will simply die if she sees one this year...)!

I remember your story about the one you found on your front steps. I still laugh about this. Thinking good thoughts for a snake-free summer for us all!Alt smile

Kelly Nelson
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
I feel ya!!!
Spencer Koch
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Get a second house cat!
Stephanie Snyder
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Julie Hudak Harlan
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
I am laughing so hard I can't breathe I agree. Move
Nelle Groves
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Laurie Allen Bilski
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Pass the bottle because I would be rocking in the corner next to you. Big ol' "nope" to all of that!

I'm so glad I'm not the only one that feels this way!

Brigid Doheny Steiner
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
I agree with you Wendy-totally afraid of them!??
KP Richardson
5/19/2016 at 10:34 PM
Can't Mel and Lulu take him?

They're total wimps. Doubtful.

Margaret Schleicher Bjorklund
5/19/2016 at 11:55 PM
snake or rats take your pick.

Rats. Any day of the week.

5/20/2016 at 1:39 AM

Rats or snakes. Take your pick. You really selling?


I would take snakes over rats any day. As far as I'm concerned, and likely once we all collectively talk Wendy off of the ledge, no, we're not selling. Alt smile We have way too many years of good projects left for this house.

5/20/2016 at 2:30 AM

Nope, nope, nope, NOPE!

On the plus side, your roaming pig friend can take on a snake. Or you could get a flock of chickens. They won't hesitate to peck it to death and then play keepaway from the rest of the flock. (and help with tick control.)

Just hope Lulu knows to keep her distance from snakes.


I had the same thought about our pig friend. We haven't seen him though in a month or so. Seems like he's due to start spending more time in our yard!

As for Lulu, it's a good thing she's cute because she lacks a bit of common sense. ;) I have no confidence she'd keep her distance, and that keeps me up at night.

Kalli Rasbury Groce
5/20/2016 at 7:54 AM
There is something called Snake Away at Lowe's, I think, that my dad recommends. I was going to pack some for our next Africa excursion, but we have changed plans and are coming back to DC. Would love to catch up with you sometime!

Thanks, Kalli! It was something the pest control company applied this week around the perimeter of the picket fence. I've heard mixed thoughts on whether it works, but I'm willing to try anything.

Laura C
5/20/2016 at 9:05 AM

Yep, looks like a black snake. As many others have pointed out, they're totally harmless and great for pest control. Wendy - don't read this story.

My grandfather had a place on the Chesapeake when I was a kid. One weekend, the toilet wouldn't flush - it felt like the handle was stuck on something. He lifted the lid off the tank and found a six foot-long black snake curled up inside the tank. It took him almost an hour to unwind it from all the plumbing.


I should have heeded your warning, Laura! That is a truly terrifying story. And here I felt relieved we finally had working toilets back in the house! ;)

Karin K
5/20/2016 at 11:55 AM

Wendy - it really is a harmless black snake, that is helping keep mice and rats at bay. Use this a good excuse to go buy some seriously cute high-end muck boots to wear outside, "just in case", and get them in all the colors.

5/20/2016 at 1:20 PM

Karin, love the logic of that! Fun colored Wellies are just the ticket.


Great suggestion, Karin! I have a pair of knee-high purple ones and mid-calf gray ones. This past weekend when we were working in the yard, it was purple all the way!!

5/20/2016 at 1:19 PM

Wendy, just breathe. It's harmless. I had a black snake as a pet for a while in college. It had been rolled up by a hay baler and was pretty cut up. I kept it for a few months until it healed and shed it's skin twice. (The vet told me that would be sure everything was OK with the scarred areas on it's skin.) Then I released it back into the wild. They eat mice and rats, not people.


I wish I could be calm about it, but even if I think I see one I start to hyperventilate. Breathing is not my strong suit when it comes to this subject! At least Alex loves snakes, and I know he could safely relocate one if it came to that.

5/20/2016 at 2:21 PM

I'm terrified of snakes as well - and I think all of them are deadly too. My boyfriend's grandfather kept black snakes around to help with rodent control - also, they help keep venomous snakes away - and that affinity for them has passed onto my boyfriend. His home is on the river so there are always snakes around; a couple of years ago I walked into the house to find one crawling across the fireplace mantle and onto the piano! Last summer a mating pair crawled onto the porch and into a birds nest - that was a horrible experience. There is also one that sometimes lives in the ceiling. He will kill garter snakes, etc. - but black snakes (even the ones that come into the house) are totally off limits.

For what it is worth, our year old Rottweiler wondered off of our property and down the road a week ago, where he got bitten on the face by a copperhead. He got a bad infection in his face and got really sick. He is currently on a regimen of six antibiotic pills a day, a steroid, and "hot spot" spray. Which is to say, he's a pretty miserable pup.

And, since that has happened, I don't feel as nearly as nervous about having the black snakes around to help keep our property safe.


Thanks, Cinny. I'm so sorry to hear about your puppy, and am so glad he's on the mend! As much as I'm terrified of snakes, I have to admit I'd rather have this guy in the yard (preferably when we're not at the house) than a copperhead. Eeks!!

5/20/2016 at 2:24 PM

Just a harmless old rat snake. They're quite common in this area, and are great at keeping mice and other rodent populations in check. I hope you don't have it exterminated or moved. They may look a little scary, but they're not dangerous to humans, tend to be fairly shy, and they're a vital and necessary part of the local ecosystem (a fact that equally applies to spiders, and of which I have to remind myself with a shudder every time I come across a spider).


My parents didn't touch or move him. As soon as my dad approached him to take the photo, he seemed anxious to find a more quiet location. We're not sure where he headed, but we didn't see him all weekend. (Breathing a HUGE sigh of relief.)

5/20/2016 at 5:00 PM

I live out in the country and I don't care for snakes or spiders. Get yourself some guineas and they will take care of the snakes. Also sprinkling sulphur I. The yard will drive them away.


Guineas are super cute. Do they require a lot of care?

5/20/2016 at 5:26 PM

Gaaaa....I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!! We, too, live "on the water" and THIS year have seen more copperheads than ever is terrifying. We've removed HUGE black snakes from the OUTDOOR SHOWER...Lord, GIVE ME STRENGTH to "go in there and try again..." It's a JUNGLE!! franki


Good grief! I might not ever shower again. ;)

What do you do when you see a copperhead?

5/21/2016 at 8:53 AM

The poor little guy! I can't say I'm in favor of snakes but I'm not sure I dislike them. I think it's an "I respect you, please go away" situation. And I would totally rather have this guy around than rats. The snake is more likely to be scared of Lulu and slither away; a rat may be diseased and stand its ground. If your rats are anything like our rats, they can do some serious damage.

Our neighbors' dog was bitten by a snake in their backyard and, after a stay in the vet ICU, was fine. Another neighbor was bitten by a copperhead while gardening in sandals (bad for so many reasons!) and is fine but now wears real shoes to garden. So I second the call for some super fun Wellies.

A family friend who lived alone noticed the birds acting really strange outside, by her windows, looked and there was a huge copperhead in her house. So she did the only logical thing and climbed up onto the kitchen island until someone came to help. Obvs this is why we all need islands in our kitchens. For safety.


Haha! Great story about the kitchen island. (And by great story, I mean thank goodness it wasn't me!) That's really interesting about the birds behaving strangely. I'll have to be more mindful of that in the future.

5/22/2016 at 10:41 PM

Snakes give me the creeps Saw a huge copperhead on a walk with my dog- scary!! I think this little snake is just doing what he needs to do, Be smart- Do not stick your hands when gardening, into places you can't see. A snake bite, even not poisonous, will end you up in the ER! But nature is nature- if you choose to live outside the city, you have to deal with it, sigh....Life is full of unexpected complications. Snakes are not the worst, even though they are very scary....


I'm always paranoid about gardening, especially now. We have a lot of large, mature boxwoods and other overgrown bushes, and it's difficult to weed the beds with full visibility. Good reminder!

Shalini Gupta
5/22/2016 at 11:00 PM
No freaking way am I going to read this post!!!!!
5/23/2016 at 10:55 AM


Seriously though, it's just a rat snake. It's harmless to you and your family. It will take care of the rodents that are much worse for your home and your health. As others pointed out, it fills an important ecological niche, and if you get rid of it, a worse replacement such as a copperhead might move in. Really, the vast majority of snakes are perfectly lovely, and they're not slimy at all.

5/24/2016 at 5:20 PM

Long time lurker here (not the sort that hides in bushes!). Have so enjoyed reading through all your posts and will admit this one made me laugh but gah you make me so happy to be in the UK where the likely-hood of meeting one of these slippery fella's is pretty much nil!

Also Elaine "this is why we all need kitchen islands" YESAlt smile will tell my boyfriend that its for my protection! How could he say no?


Hi Lauren! I'm so glad you've enjoyed reading through our posts. Any chance you have an extra room for rent (or should I say "to let")? The UK is sounding even more appealing these days!!Alt smile

5/30/2016 at 2:55 PM

Wendy I am with you! I was even scared reading your post- I saw one by my driveway corner 2 years ago and still cannot kneel down and weed in that area- I strain my back while standing fully upright and bending and bending. A sore back is a small price to pay for my sanity!


:) I'm very familiar with the stand and bend weeding technique as well, Peggy!

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