Because they keep pests in check, the best way to deal with snakes is usually to leave them alone. But when it comes to dangerous snakes—particularly when they’re also large in size, large in number or both—it can pay to have on hand a means of dispatching them at the sort of distance that will prevent them from dispatching you.
A 72-year-old woman was in her yard when she discovered some copperhead snakes under her Lequire, Okla.,home. Knowing that copperheads are highly venomous, the woman grabbed a shovel and rake and began slaying the snakes, but soon discovered there were more snakes than she had anticipated. She then retrieved her shotgun for backup and managed to scare out and dispatch all 11 snakes hiding in the crawlspace. When a friend reported the story on social media, the woman’s neighbors offered their praise, with one commenting, “I love Mrs. Newby. Does she need more shells?” (KOCO News 5, Oklahoma City, Okla., 7/30/17)
When Scott Dame began losing goats, he couldn’t figure out why. That is, until the Collier County, Fla., man was walking around his property and saw a 12-foot python with one in his clutches. The snake had already begun swallowing the goat’s head, so Dame knew he didn’t have much time. He retrieved a .45 caliber pistol and shot the snake eight times. The snake let the frightened goat go, but Dame knew it would be back later to try again. With the snake wounded, Dame managed to step on its tail and deliver a fatal shot. As the owner of a pest control business, Dame has encountered his share of snakes, but said, “I’ve never had to deal with a snake that big. A snake that big has no business being here.” (Fox 13 News, Naples, Fla., 6/9/17)
When 15-year-old J.C. Lara heard his dog barking outside his Cement, Okla., home, he decided to go outside to investigate. He found his dog at the side of the house, and immediately saw what had been bothering it: A 14-foot-long python was slithering through the lawn nearby. Lara ran inside to tell his father, who suggested they grab a shovel to take out the snake. “I was like, ‘No, we need the gun. This is a huge snake,’” Lara said. “I didn’t know how long it was at the time, but I knew it was big enough to eat someone.” Knowing there were several small children living in the area, Lara and his father retrieved a gun and fatally shot the snake. (KFOR News 4, Oklahoma City, Okla., 6/19/16)
The residents of Warren County, Mo., had been on edge for several days. There had been reports of chickens and small dogs vanishing without a trace. Residents initially suspected coyotes or owls, but then one resident spied a giant snake stalking his poodle—and the following Tuesday morning at about 2:30 a.m., a woman awoke to find the snake menacing her dog. Fearing the dog was in danger despite its large size, she woke her husband, who retrieved his handgun. Upon seeing how massive the snake was, however, he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to handle it on his own—so he called a neighbor, who rushed over with his shotgun and delivered two blasts that proved fatal. The snake turned out to be a 14-foot-7-inch Burmese Python, weighing in at 160 pounds. (Fox 2 News, Jonesburg, Mo., 7/28/15)
Emily Pesti's tranquil Gaithersburg, Md., back yard was quickly transformed into a horror movie-like setting one Sunday night when a 12-foot snake appeared out of the darkness and coiled around the family pet—a mixed terrier named Dusty. Family members fought the beast with a leash, a shovel, even a surfboard until the snake finally relented and released the limp, breathless Dusty who was later revived and rushed to a veterinary hospital. Having been told by animal agencies after an earlier sighting of the snake that no help would be forthcoming, the family's nightmare finally ended when a neighbor showed up with a rifle and dispatched the snake. (The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, 7/29/99)