Can you guess the number one question I get from guests?
I love giving tours of the farm to my guests in a Polaris. The tours range anywhere from 3o minutes to 2 hours, depending on the guests. The number one question I get while giving tours is “Do you have a problem with snakes?”, meaning “Do you have a problem with snakes at Scurlock Farms?”, meaning rattlesnakes.
I have hosted guests from 21 countries and all 50 states, so you can imagine the preconceived ideas many folks have of Texas! Many think all of Texas is desert, cactus and you guessed it – rattlesnakes!
The members of a band from Spain playing at SxSW spent a week with us last year. They said all of their friends and family had warned them about rattlesnakes before they left for Texas! Another gentleman from Georgetown was going to rent one of the homes for friends of his that were visiting from out of state, and they were afraid to stay in the country because of snakes.
I tell all of my guests to just be aware of where they are walking when out hiking. In eight years of hosting hundreds of guests, would you believe not one of them has sited a snake!
Tom N. is a guest from Canada whose family has spent January through March with us at Scurlock Farms the past three years. Year before last Dan and David were moving a huge brush pile at the far end of the property, 1/2 mile from the homes, that had been there for 4 years, getting ready to burn it. At the very bottom of the pile the skid steer picked up a rattlesnake. Dan called me to bring a gun.
I stopped at Indian Bluff where Tom was staying and asked if he would like to see a rattlesnake and he was thrilled! He was going back home to Canada in two days and commented he was going to call me to see where he might look for a rattlesnake!! I would have had no idea. Tom got some good photos and video as David cut the rattles off for him to take home with him.
David getting rattles off headless rattlesnake for Canadian guest
Believe it or not, snakes really are just as afraid of you as you are of them! Given the chance, they will run away from you. When going over a log, step on the log rather than over it. If a snake is under it, it will warn him and he will warn you. I’m sure that snake they found thought he was safe at the bottom of the pile!
In Williamson County (and throughout most of Texas) we do have rattlesnakes, copper head and coral snakes. We have never seen a copperhead on the farm. I think they like sandier soil, and we have black clay.
There ARE beneficial, friendly snakes!
I know to many people “a snake is a snake”, but we also have many very beneficial snakes like the king snake and chicken or rat snakes. Did you know it is illegal to kill a king snake? They eat rattlesnakes! as well as rats, mice, etc. We have had several chicken snakes. I call them chicken snakes rather than rat snakes as they eat my hen’s eggs! When Dan and David cut and baled hay in May, they found a large rat snake that the cutter had caught.
This chicken snake was eating an egg my chickens had laid in a flower pot. David videoed him, then dispatched him.
Just so you know, we do kill all rattlesnakes we happen upon. David skins them and makes beautiful pens with their skin. Dan made a gorgeous belt and Dan mounted one of a stained board as a Christmas gift. Believe it or not, they are expensive to buy.
In 50 years, we have seen 2 baby coral snakes. Coral snakes are very venomous, but they must chew on a thin part of your body, such as between the fingers, in order to bite, so I am not worried about them. Remember, “when red touches yellow, he’s a dangerous fellow”.
Funny story about the first one seen at the farm. It was 50 years ago right after we moved out here. I found a very small one in the side yard and killed it. Dan put it in a brown lunch sack, rolled up the top and took it to the County Extension Agent, Ronnie Lepps. Ronnie wasn’t in his office, so Dan just left it on Ronnie’s desk. He called later to verify that it was a coral snake. Ronnie informed Dan it was, and to “not ever do that again!” I think he about had a heart attack when he opened the bag.
Want to attend the largest Rattlesnake Roundup in the world?
Sweet Water TX holds the largest rattlesnake roundup in the world. They actually go out and hunt for them, and thousands of pounds are collected over a weekend. They are cooked in a variety of ways and guests can purchase the different foods prepared with rattlesnake. You couldn’t pay me to go to one!!
Finally, to answer guest’s questions “Do you have a problem with snakes?” I tell them we are in Texas, so there are snakes, but we don’t have a “problem”. I advise them to watch where they are walking, don’t be sticking their hands down holes, and let them know the snakes really are as afraid of them as they would be of the snake.