There are a few snakes living in The Sea Ranch, but we have never seen any that are particularly dangerous to humans. The one that we have pictures of here is a garter snake and we think that it is a variety of the common California Red-sided Garter Snake, Thamnophis sirtalis infernalis. The garter snake was long thought to be nonvenomous. Recent research has found that it does possess a mild toxin in it's saliva that it uses to stun or kill it's prey, but it's bite is not considered dangerous to humans even though it might cause an unpleasant reaction in some instances. The experts also warn, however, that it will release "cloacal contents" and musk if handled, so we advise you not to try to pick one up. (They use the obscure scientific language to mean poop and pee.) From what we have noted while living here on The Ranch, our garter snakes are very shy and will do everything that they can to remain unseen and uninvolved with people. Fish & Wildlife tells us that they will strike and bite if cornered or provoked so we have adopted a live and let live policy and we request that you consider doing the same.


When you get into the mythology of snakes you are quickly overwhelmed with heavy symbolism. Some early cultures saw snake as the umbilical cord that connects humans to Mother Earth. Gods and goddesses often had snakes associated with them as guardians and symbols of immortality. In ancient Indian mythology snakes gave birth to all animals, made it rain, caused earthquakes, and performed all manner of other fundamental stuff. Sidartha was protected by Naga when he was fasting in the forest on his way to achieving enlightenment. Thai,Lao and Cambodian temples have serpents on their roof connecting heaven and earth. Greeks and Egyptians believed that snake played a critical role in creating the world. American Indians use snake in many religious ceremonies and the Hopi believe that Snake can ensure a good agricultural season if handled exactly the right way. An ancient symbol common to many cultures has snake eating it's own tail. Scholars suggest that it was a visual reference to the cyclical nature of life and famous psychologists like Carl Jung interpret it to relate to the human psyche in ways that we are not smart enough to understand.

The Rod of Asclepius entwined with snake
is an ancient symbol associated with medicine,
so snake can't be as bad as some folks believe.