It was 11:30PM, Friday evening, and I was stepping outside to sit on the porch and enjoy the nice summer breeze. As I opened the door, I saw a snake sitting on the flagstone. It was late, relatively dark and I couldn't really make out too much of it - other than it was the largest snake I've ever seen where there wasn't glass separating the two of us (this doesn't include to cobras and pit vipers I've seen at the Croc-bank in India, but we did have a wall between us then).
Needless to say, I quickly went to fetch Angie. She's from Texas, and has had a more run-ins with our limbless neighbors than I have. She was home when the 5 foot rat snake was on our window sill, and when our neighbor killed a 5 foot copperhead that was on our driveway.
I don't know too much about snakes other than they CAN be venomous. In fact, of the 4 types of venomous snakes in North America, all four can be found in Texas (Water Moccasin (Cottonmouth), Copperhead, Rattlesnake, and Coral snake). I was pretty sure this was either a rat snake or a copperhead, but it was too dark to see it well. Angie knew only one thing - it needed to die.
I killed it, but I've been struggling with that fact since I separated its head from its body. If it were a rat snake, then it posed very little hazard to us, and they are very beneficial (keeping the rodent and snake population down - and since we have a large field and creek behind the house, keeping both in control is good for us). I've spent some time on websites since the incident, and have come to the determination that it was probably a rat snake. It appears that if it were anything else, it should have had "slit" eyes (Coral snakes have round eyes, but I know the coloring of the coral snake).
I think next time, I may just take a little more time and be sure...I could be killing the very thing that would eat that mouse or venomous snake that really wants in the house.