From time to time, I have some of the young men from the neighborhoods come down our pathway, either looking to make a few dollars for gas money or something of a similar nature. I have shared experiences with some of the older guys who have had the occasion to do some hunting. A young man (named James Hurd) had come driving up with a friend of his, and they had just come off of a job that required them to bust a fence line around a property being developed. Now James (aka JD) dropped the tailgate and produced a pair of freshly killed Eastern Diamondback rattlesnakes.
The story was that they both came out at them on the same job site, on the same day. Now, in many places in the United States of America, critters such as these are common, and I guess that the annual Rattlesnake Festival held in nearby Dade City would tell us that we could (and should) expect to run across their kind every once in a while. The thing that strikes an odd note to me is that in my 40-plus years of living on this property, I have not had the first occasion to catch or kill one of these snakes. But, in just the span of a little over a year, I have had interactions with someone who ran over one just down the street and three rattlesnakes were taken off of the church grounds (less than a mile from our property). To me, this seems to be a bit more than just a strange happenstance!
Looking back to when I was a kid growing up along the area of Lauderdale Lakes, a community coming off of the western fringes of Ft. Lauderdale (in south Florida), I had occasion to spend a lot of time exploring the deep wooded areas that had yet to be scarred by a bulldozer blade. As I try to recall, we had quite a few mean storms blow in off of the Atlantic Ocean (I’m guessing in the mid-1960s). I can still vividly recall when Hurricane Cleo came right over our neighborhood, blowing out the anemometer (wind gauge) at the utilities complex right across State Road #7 from us. That thing held together all the way up to 165 mph before ripping apart!
All these things from the past were interesting, as I was around seven or eight years old. Its relevance is now to be told. As I would be helping prepare for a big storm, I noticed that my pet hamster would pull as much wood shavings into his corner as possible. I really didn’t think a whole bunch about it for the first two times, but we had more storms visit us during the lifespan of that small rodent, and when I would see the shavings being piled up, I would tell my parents. That hamster had better odds at forecasting an approaching storm than some of the weather forecasters.
Another occurrence that also caught my attention was when the ants would go crazy building a fortified mound. Getting back to the present scenario, I counted in my mind just how many rattlesnakes I have had the chance to see. It turns out that I have seen more of those rattles in a year’s time than all of the rest of my combined years.
I am going to make a semi-lame statistical mention that as we are getting a more than usual influx of northerners moving down from “up yonder” (to get away from the “Blue State Syndrome”), many of the habitats that were considered safe for these creatures are being torn apart by the massive blades of an even bigger behemoth (that, being a Caterpillar). I would imagine that even if the snake den was not quite disturbed, the major rumbling of the ground under those steel tracks would put ideas into their little brains to find a quieter neighborhood.
And you could add that the food sources that they depend on are being driven away as well. What we (as a surviving race) intentionally or unintentionally do to our surroundings will produce erratic behavior from those beings that we share this earth with. And now, close to where I grew up, the plight of the residents of the Everglades is now facing the biggest onslaught of small and medium game in its history, all because we had some folks build a major serpentarium (oversized snake apartments) down in Dade County that was not built strong enough for the winds that came from Hurricane Andrew.
It is said that over 90 percent of all the small and medium game that would be seen on state game cameras are gone due to the pythons and similar constrictors (that escaped soon after Andrew passed through). With the many new changes that our mother earth is going through (some due to the magnetic poles starting to shift and others from the new water hazards called wind turbines), our winged and finned neighbors are taking a real beating. We must learn to help those species that are struggling and (unfortunate as it sounds) control those species that are not native to these areas yet are overproducing.
And, if you are a follower of my stories, you know that many parts of Florida (and the United States) are facing a major feral hog problem (of which I was involved in usurping). We, as a caring society, need to start looking closer at what is going on around us. Now I could not stop here without giving you one of the most popular prayers being recited at present (that being the Prayer of Serenity). “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I hope that y’all have a blessed week!