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Nature & You: St. Patrick's Day, a celebration of a nation devoid of snakes

Oklahoma has a lot of snakes. This bull snake near Lake Hefner is nonpoisonous. [Oklahoman Archive Photo]
Oklahoma has a lot of snakes. This bull snake near Lake Hefner is nonpoisonous. [Oklahoman Archive Photo]

Where would you rather live? A place that has lots of snakes, or one that has none?

I am sure that more than one of you readers gets the heebie-jeebies when the mere mention of snakes comes to the fore.

On March 17, St. Patrick's Day will be celebrated by many. A popular legend has it that St. Patrick drove all of the snakes out of Ireland.

Oklahoma doesn't share much in common with Ireland. In our neck-o'-the-woods, snakes abound.

I'm not going to expend a lot of effort attempting to convert you into a charter member of the Legless Reptile Fan Club. Most run-of-the-mill snake phobias are pretty deep-seated and firmly entrenched.

In the snake's defense, I will take a stab at allaying some of your fears.

Here in central Oklahoma, the majority of our snakes are nonvenomous. Add a check mark to the "plus" side of the ledger of snake/people encounters.

Our native snakes shun salads and, instead, choose to chow down on rats, mice, insects and other irksome pests. The snakes' voracious appetites come to our aid when we battle those creatures that threaten to eat up all of our garden flowers or farm produce.

Love 'em or hate 'em. Snakes tread no middle ground.

As for me, I am enamored with our state's diverse array of harmless snakes. I'm glad they share this world with us.

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›

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