Finding a snake in your yard can be a frightening experience. And with tons of warm summer sun to bask in, you may see snakes more often in areas you didn't realize they've been near all along. Unfortunately, many people in this area were taught that the proper way to deal with a snake in the yard is to shoot it or beat it to death with a shovel.

I was recently witness to this and it broke my heart.

I heard there was a snake in a yard of a place I was visiting on the north side of Lubbock. I wanted to see it through the window because seeing a snake was more exciting than what I was currently doing. I thought the guy encountering it had a broom to shoo it off, but it was a shovel.

To my horror, I saw as he brought down a vicious blow on what was clearly not a rattlesnake. The snake was a huge rat snake sunning itself after having eaten something very large. It had provided the service of eliminating some varmint and was repaid for its work with a grisly death. I felt cursed for having seen this take place.

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Engaging a snake like this is either totally unnecessary because the snake is harmless to people and great for the ecosystem, or its stupidly dangerous because the snake is venomous and you're challenging it to a duel. There are much better ways to handle a snake showing up in a place you don't want it.

If the snake is obviously not venomous, as in the case of kingsnakes, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Snakes don't like to be visible or exposed unless they're sunning themselves. If it's not moving along fast enough for you, "a few gentle, short bursts of water from your garden hose is often enough to bridge the language barrier and encourage the snake to move along."

If you think a snake may be venomous, such as in the obvious case of a rattlesnake, your best bet is to contact Lubbock (or your county's) Animal Services. Depending on the situation, one of their officers will come collect and relocate the snake or they can refer you to someone who can. I cannot emphasize enough that engaging the snake is a bad idea. Getting close enough to the snake to harm it is also getting close enough for the snake to harm you.

Like most things, the best offense is a good defense. Home Depot has a great list of preventative measures you can take to keep snakes out of yards, coops, pools and more. Snake repellant appears to be as effective as snake oil -- that is, mostly useless at keeping out snakes but toxic to animals that are welcome in your yard, such as pets.

Ultimately, if a snake is on your property, you're going to do what you think is best. I just hope that less beneficial animals are needlessly killed and that fewer folks are needlessly bitten. The more humane way is the safer way, and there's a win/win solution to snakes in your yard.

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