Goodness, snakes alive!

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

Keith Gray uncovered a den of 10 timber rattlesnakes while cleaning up around the Gray farm in the Sandfield community. The largest was four and a half feet and the smallest about two feet.

Too close for comfort

Keith Gray probably wouldn’t have killed the 10 timber rattlers that he uncovered while cleaning up around the farm, except they were bedded “just a little too close for comfort.”

Gray was on the tractor Thursday, cleaning up around the place where the barns had once been and backed the tractor in to pick up the feeder.

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“When I stuck the hayfork under the feeder, I saw two or three rattlesnakes so I set the fork back down,” he said. “My dad, Billy Gray, was out in the yard just across the road and I called for him to bring the gun.”

Gray said, when he picked the hay rake up again, snakes started going everywhere.

“There were more than two or three of them,” he said. “We shot them and laid them out on the ground. Jeff Rhodes was there and he got a hoe and we started digging around in the snake hole and pulled out five more timber rattlers.”

The largest, the mother rattler, was a little more than four and a half feet and the smallest ones were about two feet.

“That was kind of odd to have snakes that size at this time of the year,” Gray said. “They usually give birth around August and, too, to have half-grown snakes in the den with the female.”

Gray said rattlesnakes are common around the Sandfield area of Pike County.

“We’ve got the perfect habitat for snakes – rocky, sandy hills,” he said. “Usually, if I see a rattler in the woods, I just let it go. But these were so close to my parents’ house, about 60 yards. And there were so many of them. It was just too close for comfort.”

Gray’s mom, Trecie Gray, said it’s the usual thing to see a rattlesnake or two every few days around Sandfield.

“We’ve killed as many as seven in one day,” she said. “The week before Keith uncovered all those rattlesnakes, we saw a four-foot timber rattlesnake in our backyard. We didn’t have anything but a hoe. Billy hit at it but it jumped at him and slithered off in the woods.”

Gray, laughingly, said she and her husband didn’t go after the rattler, “the hoe handle was too short.”

Snakes are more active at this time of the year because they are mating, Gray said.

“Timber rattlers are pit vipers and they are venomous,” he said. “They are dangerous snakes. You don’t want to mess with them.”