Photos Of Gray Rat Snake Caught In Net Trap

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Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Photos Of Gray Rat Snake Caught In Net Trap

At my previous colony site in Tallahassee, Florida, gray rat snakes were plentiful and would have eaten many of the martins if I had not installed snake guards, including bird netting traps on the housing poles. This year at my new home in Louisiana I did not catch a single rat snake in my net traps. Whether rat snakes were either fewer in numbers this year or my colony was just lucky, I don?t know. The upcoming martin season in 2006 may have more snake issues. Everyone should place some kind of snake guards on their purple martin housing poles, particularly folks living in the Deep South. Rat snakes are common down here and predate many martin colonies each season.

Below are two photos of a large gray rat snake that was caught in a net trap composed of ? inch mesh squares. This snake was almost five feet in length and the ? inch mesh caught him/her in several locations. Large snakes with thicker girth are readily caught in the ? inch mesh. However, smaller diameter snakes may be able to weave through it and I now use a combination of ? and ? inch mesh squares. The ? inch mesh has caught both large and small diameter snakes, including some that were around two feet in length.

The netting works when the snake weaves through the mesh by deflating and then inflating its body, using strong muscular movements. Rat snakes have narrow heads which allows them to push through vegetation and enter rodent burrows. The snake reacts to the netting in the same way he/she would to some vegetation and starts to weave headfirst through the mesh. As the snake pushes through, his/her scales eventually get caught in the fine mesh through the body movements and he/she can?t back out or go forward. The more the snake tries to get out, the more he/she becomes entangled. Some large thick snakes will only get their heads and a few inches of their bodies through several mesh squares and then will be caught in that location. Other snakes may weave deeper inside the netting and be entangled in several body areas up to the mid-point of their length. A combination of ? and ? inch mesh squares will probably catch nearly all rat snakes that try to weave through the netting.

It is important to remove the snakes unharmed as soon as you discover them trapped in the netting. Unfortunately, snakes will easily die in these traps if left for several hours unattended or if exposed to direct sunlight. So far, I have not lost a single rat snake in my traps and was able to safely remove them unhurt. I grab the snake?s head and then gently cut the netting from its body until I can free the snake. After that, I take the snake about a mile from my home and release him/her in an area with thickets or other suitable ?snake habitat?. If the snake has been in the trap for a while, then he/she may be rather docile and not try to bite you. However, some large rat snakes can be more aggressive and can bite hard. Several have ?raked? their curved back teeth against my hands or arms and drawn some blood. These rat snakes had apparently been recently caught and were ?rather angry? at their predicament! But I usually manage to grab the snake and remove him/her without being bitten. If you have a snake phobia, then this makes the removal process almost impossible!

Steve

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abernathys
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 8:40 am
Location: maxwell/texas

Hey Steve--Thats a big snake. After you remove a snake of that size do you put up new netting?

Do you order your netting? The place that I usually buy my netting from no longer carries the 1/2 size. This year I used just the 3/4 and two small rat snakes maybe about 2 feet long were able to weave through the netting, luckily I caught both on the pole above the netting before they got to the PMs. So I definitely need to get some of the 1/2 again, but cannot find a place that sells it.

Take care!
Sandy
PM lover
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Sandy (abernathys), you can buy a 14' x 10' section of 1/2" square netting from Nixalite for $24.95.
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There address is http://www.nixalite.com/birdnetting.aspx
abernathys
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 8:40 am
Location: maxwell/texas

Thanks Samuel!!

Thats what I will do!

Sandy
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Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Hey Sandy,

I usually cut the snake out and then check my net trap to determine if there is still sufficient netting left to capture other snakes. I now use a bunch of netting per pole and really create a fluffy wreath of ? and ? inch mesh netting. So I often have enough netting left in the trap. However, in the past when I used smaller amounts of netting, I would replace the netting after cutting a big snake from it, as I often nearly destroyed the trap!

I have been unable to find any ? inch mesh netting at local garden centers, Walmart, or home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes in the Tallahassee, Florida area. I haven?t seen any locally around Shreveport, but I haven?t looked much.

I have bought it off the Internet but the netting was so expensive. Samuel's link provides some reasonable prices.

Good luck in 2006.

Steve
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

I thought I would re-activate this posting and photos of a huge rat snake caught in one of my net traps.

Since the martin season is just beginning, soon the rat snakes will be emerging from hibernation and looking for food. They are probably already on the "crawl" in south Florida. That food could be the purple martins in your colony. I would encourage everyone to install some kind of rat snake guard on their housing poles. This is particularly true of folks living in the Deep South where rat snakes are plentiful.

I have a more detailed article on rat snake predation that describes the net trap, too. It is in the Forum listing.

Steve
Sharon - Central TX
Posts: 643
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2004 9:20 pm
Location: So. Central TX
Martin Colony History: All Troyer Horizontal Gourds with Conley Entrances
PMCA Member since 2004

Steve,
Thanks for updating this subject. We finally found some 1/2" netting TODAY and it was just a few miles down the road from us! We went to a farm supply store and it was listed as deer netting. $19.95 for enough to probably last our lifetime :-). The 3/4" was easily found at Home Depot. Guess what we are doing this weekend!
Sharon
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Sharon,

That is good news! I still have not been able to find the 1/2 inch netting at Lowes or Home Depot. I did buy a lot of 1/2 inch stuff off the Internet and it is still good for this season. But I now may be able to find it at a local farm supply store. I will look for deer netting! Thanks for sharing that information with us.

Steve
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I have chickens and use netting for many things. I find Ebay has lots of it if your local stores don't :-)
Steve Kroenke
Posts: 4342
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2003 6:49 pm
Location: Louisiana/Logansport

Birdlady58,

Thank you for that information. I didn't think about Ebay as a source for the netting.

Steve
Guest

Ebay is a great source for many things BUT the only drawback is if you need the netting TODAY, it won't happen. Probably a few days to a week when the person ships it. I find it to be cheaper than Lowes for some things

You are very welcome. Going to put mine up on my pole when the time comes :grin:
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