Texas brown snakePhoto from Austin Reptile Service

While I was grilling chicken last night, this cute little guy slithered between my feet and nearly made me fall into the pool. At first, I assumed it was at hatchling cottonmouth—better safe than sorry. We have plenty of cottonmouths here on the bayou, and babies are just as venomous as their parents. So, yes, I jumped.

After I regained my balance and set down the barbecue tongs, I took a closer look. Just a harmless Texas brown snake. If I’d been a kid I would have captured it and put it in a jar to watch for an hour or so. My dad encouraged catching and releasing. Kids learn to care about what they know. But creatures always had to be released by the end of the day.

I only remember two exceptions to this rule—a tarantula that Dad once brought us from a trip out to west Texas, and baby birds who had fallen from their nests and needed help to survive. (For info on rescuing baby birds, please see this article from The Wildlife Center of Texas.) Sometimes we succeeded with the birds, sometimes we didn’t.

The tarantula was a gentle, but ultimately boring pet. We could stroke its back, but were not allowed to pick it up. I don’t think this was necessarily because Dad was worried about us getting bitten. More likely, he didn’t want us annoying the spider. Mom worried about the biting.

I was happy to see the little Texas brown snake. Though these snakes are common, I don’t see them often because they are so small and quick and blend in with the mulch. But it’s nice to know they are there.

If you came to this page looking for a BIG brown snake, have a look at this Texas Rat Snake we found shimmying up our palm tree!