Slytherin through Chookonia…

Our friendly rodent exterminator has taken up residence.

(TW: large snakes)

He’s a carpet python, and being non-venomous, is of no danger to us or indeed the Girls, but only the rats and mice that might be after the chook grain. Granted, he can give you a painful nip, but really, why would you want to get close enough to mess with him?

Sorry for the bad photo, but it was taken at night, in the dark, and very quickly. He’s about 2 metres/6ft 3″ long and is rather skinny, so clearly hunting has not yet been very profitable. The Girls didn’t seem too fussed about him, and quite honestly, I’d much rather have him around than rats or mice. For one thing, he leaves both the chickens and their grain alone.

The Husband thinks we should name him. The obvious choice would be to call him Severus Snake, but nah, too, well, slimy. He’s actually rather a good guy. I think we should call him Arnie. He is, after all, the (Ex)Terminator of all things rodent.

Sorry if this has all been rather traumatising, I know loads of people hate snakes. Australia definitely has more than its fair share of the really nasty, deadly ones. Arnie is just a great big fluffly pussycat by comparison.

He’s welcome to the job, I hope he makes a big success of it.

59 thoughts on “Slytherin through Chookonia…

  1. Arnie sounds like a real bonus to have around.

  2. Unfortunately this holds no joy or wonder for me. I break out in hives at the mere mention of these critters & right up on that list are rats as well… I know he is doing the job of getting rid of the latter but again I have no joy in the prospect 😢

    • katechiconi says:

      I don’t *love* either of them, but in terms of damage, smell and general hygiene, rats are much higher on the ‘nasty’ list than Arnie, who is quiet, tidy and decorative, if a little slithery.

  3. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    We don’t have snakes over here and I am not sad about it. If they would have another tongue I would like them more. They have after all a very nice skin. I am surprised to hear he doesn’t go after the chickens. How big can he grow ?

    • katechiconi says:

      Generally you don’t see them longer than 4m, but they actually don’t stop growing till they die. A whole chicken is a big ask, rats are much more their size. They *have* been known to take them, but it’s not usual, and he is far too narrow just now to take on one of my Girls.

      • gwenniesgardenworld says:

        I have seen boa’s on tv with a huge belly after eating something big !! And they can strangle people but there are several sorts I think. But 4 meters……do they grow fast ?

      • katechiconi says:

        Not very, and boa constrictors are very different. This one’s head is about the size of a pingpong ball, so not big enough to get around anything very large. I think we, and the Girls, are safe. Rats and mice? Not so much…

      • gwenniesgardenworld says:

        Well, if I had a problem with rats or mice I think I’d go for a small terrier 😀 I’d love to hear how your boa is doing though.

      • katechiconi says:

        We already have a big dog, who would not welcome a small terrier. We don’t have a problem with rats or mice either, probably *because* we have a snake too! I doubt we’ll see much of him, but I’ll keep everyone updated if there’s news.

  4. A handsome chap indeed. I was thinking about snake names which led me to think how even the concept of a snake was made evil when patriarchal religions shoved indigenous cultures aside. St. Patrick driving “snakes” out of Ireland is a metaphor for driving out pagans, or at least driving nature-based faith under the wheels of Christianity.

    An interesting book on how Celtic Christians long continued to believe God speaks through nature is “Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality” by J. Philip Newell.

    Sorry, I got myself way sideways from the topic. Perpetual problem with my off-the-trail brain. Glad Arnie has found a welcoming home.

    • katechiconi says:

      There is something very visceral about the fear of snakes. They feel very alien in their biology, which is perhaps why they’ve been perceived as inherently evil – nothing like an unblinking, unafraid stare directed at a prime predator to induce mental discomfort! Still, Arnie tends to prefer conflict avoidance, and I’m glad I’m evolved enough to get past my own prejudices and instincts to see an innocent and helpful creature!

      • I live in a small U.S. township where coyotes are regarded as The Most Evil Creature Ever, accused of taking down full-grown cattle. I wonder about the fear behind this, wonder if it has something to do with the wildest parts of ourselves we’ve repressed. The data shows coyotes mostly eat insects, berries, mice, rats, and roadkill—never animals as large as deer let alone cattle — but that doesn’t satisfy people whose fear/hate of coyotes is visceral. I hope Arnie has a long and healthy life defending Chookonia.

      • katechiconi says:

        … and perhaps it’s easier to accuse a wild creature of something a badly-trained or managed domestic dog might have done if it’s large enough. Feral dogs here are capable of horrendous damage.

  5. jmcheney says:

    When I lived in the country & kept geese, guineas & chickens, black snakes (non poisonous) slithered around gathering eggs. One large black snake could not wriggle out of my way because it had eaten a whole nest full of hard-shelled guinea eggs. It resembled a long beaded necklace stretched across the path. A very large one made off with a goose egg – stolen right out from under the mother goose who kept sitting tight on it in the nest.

    • Jennifer says:

      Do you know the book the Crows of Pearblossom? It’s a children’s book that both my husband and I loved as children and features an egg stealing snake. I was most attracted to the crafting aspect of the book, my husband perhaps to the outwitting.

      • katechiconi says:

        With luck, Arnie will be much less interested in eggs than the rattlesnake in the story! I do actually have a number of ‘dummy’ eggs in the nesting boxes to encourage the Girls and show the where to lay, but so far they’re still all there, so maybe he’s less foolish than the rattlesnake.

    • katechiconi says:

      These guys do take eggs, but now that the Husband thinks about it, his shed is remarkably free of skittery 4-legged visitors, so perhaps that’s where Arnie has been making his living up to now. With 5 chickens, I’m hoping that if I’m vigilant I’ll get to the eggs ahead of him most times…

  6. kymlucas says:

    Yikes! He’s big.

  7. claire93 says:

    since you’ve identified him and know he’s a good guy, I’m quite happy to meet Arnie!

  8. Marty K says:

    (Spoiler alert!)

    Severus did turn out to be kind of a good guy in the end. 😉 Whatever you call your new non-danger noodle, I’m happy to make the acquaintance. 💜 I hope he or she will come up for a proper photo-op soon.

    • katechiconi says:

      Professor Snape still had major personality defects… Poor Arnie can’t help his nature, and as a more complex being, I have to be big enough to look past that and see how helpful he can be. I do like the name non-danger noodle, though…

  9. Dayphoto says:

    I have two watersnakes that live (in the Summer) in the hen house. They do a great job of keeping down the mice. Although, I do jump when I see one! Or REALLY jump when I see both of them

  10. Emmely says:

    Brrrrrr, snakes! I don’t recall ever seeing a live one here, they are super rare. I did have a scary encounter with a bright green one in South-Africa when I needed to use a bathroom in a wild park and there already turned out to be a snake inside. Still don’t know if that one was venomous but I would not be surprised. Luckily, it was a lot smaller than yours!

    • katechiconi says:

      He’s actually quite shy, as are most snakes, I think. I would say that I prefer to see him ‘slytherin’ away from me than towards me, but I also know that he’s not at all interested in trying to bite me and finds me much more intimidating than I find him.

  11. magpiesue says:

    I don’t have a problem with snakes. Lovely to have in-house, as it were, pest control. 😊 Hopefully Arnie will find enough to make it worth his while to stay but not more than he can handle!

  12. anne54 says:

    Despite knowing that he is non-venomous and not about to attack me, I think I would start every time I saw Arnie in the chook shed. Then hopefully I would settle down to your relaxed reaction! My mother would NEVER visit the house again if she knew there was a snake ~ even a python ~ somewhere in the backyard.

    • katechiconi says:

      I was not raised in an environment where snakes of any kind are common, and the few we saw were not dangerous and only one was even remotely venomous. I have had to learn this reaction, which shows that it’s possible. I do get the visceral reaction but my head tells me Arnie is more benign than dangerous, and i shall continue to treat him with respect.

      • anne54 says:

        As a city girl I wasn’t raised in that environment either, but I have always had an awareness of the danger. I am a lot more confident walking through the bush now!

  13. cedar51 says:

    I suppose if they are in your natural environment, you just get on with life, but NZ doesn’t do that type of critter….and frankly they make me scared, just thinking about them.

    • katechiconi says:

      Snakes don’t come naturally to me either, I’ve had to work at it, but Arnie worries me far less than the venomous guys. I’m very lucky in that I’ve encountered few of them in my life in Australia, but I’m always aware of the possibility, and act accordingly.

  14. Arnie is a good name. Ours are all called George! I agree, look to the rafters but equally often we seem them on the ground… and quite often our Georges at least, prefer small birds and chook eggs to rats & mice… can’t say I blame them.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’ll have to be a race to see who gets to the eggs first. We will be relocating Arnie if he insists on hanging around inside the chook house, since he has a perfectly good burrow under the shed, we’ve discovered.

  15. nanacathy2 says:

    Well hurrah for Arnie. You know how I feel about rats, and better a snake than the Ratman.

  16. manicmumdays says:

    Beautiful! 🐍 💕

  17. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I’m not keen on snakes but if he gets rid of rats then he would be welcome. My cats do a pretty good job here.

  18. Steph says:

    Oh he’s a beauty!
    And you’ve done well with the name. At our place they are always called Monty (Python, geddit?)!
    Is Mouse skittish about him at all?
    If Shinee smells/senses a snake (or a shed skin) she gets very jumpy. She’s interested, but very careful not to get too close.

    • katechiconi says:

      Mouse hasn’t seen him, so I have no idea how he’d react. Particularly so because we don’t see snakes around here much. He’s interested in the chooks, and enjoys jumping at the fence to make them squawk, but it seems to be a mutually respectful relationship, overall.

  19. He may be harmless but you can keep your Arnie, and all your other Aussie ssssssnakesssssss. Snakes freak me out, even when I know they are harmless, and we have plenty of our own over here!

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