With daughters Ella (center) and Eden looking on, Daniel Ballard, an ecological landscaper, patiently snips plastic mesh netting from an Eastern king snake that had become helplessly entangled in it in a Decatur yard. After being freed, the snake was released into some woods and quickly crawled away. CONTRIBUTED BY CHARLES SEABROOK
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Neighbors help rescue an entangled Eastern king snake

One afternoon last week, a neighbor knocked on my door in Decatur and told me that an Eastern king snake was helplessly entangled in some garden netting that the neighbor was using to protect his vegetables and blueberry bushes from birds and other critters.

He asked if I could help free the snake. I told him that I have no expertise in such matters, but I would check my contact list for someone who possibly could help.

The neighbor headed back to his home down the street. Then, a few minutes later, my next-door neighbor, Daniel Ballard, an ecological landscaper, stopped by. I asked if he had any experience in freeing snakes ensnarled in plastic mesh netting.

Yes, indeed, he said. He has rescued several snakes in such predicaments. I told him about the hapless king snake down the street, and he said he would take a look. That proved to be the snake’s good fortune.

Daniel grabbed a pair of hand shears, and he and I, with his daughters, Ella, 7, and Eden, 5, walked to our neighbor’s yard where the squirming snake was still trying to free itself.

Nearly 3 feet long, it looked hopelessly entangled. But during the next half-hour, Daniel, sitting on the ground and gently holding the creature, patiently cut the netting from its body and even pulled pieces from its mouth. The whole time, the writhing snake wrapped itself around Daniel’s arm.

With the snake free at last, Daniel delicately carried it to the woods in back of his home and let Ella release it. It quickly crawled away.

The snake was lucky to be saved, and it made me keenly aware of how some garden netting can be deadly to snakes and other wildlife that may become desperately entangled in it.

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon, which is full Friday night, will still appear full this weekend. Mercury is low in the west just after dark. Brilliantly shining Venus is in the west around dusk and sets about three hours later. Mars, also bright-shining, rises out of the east around midnight. Jupiter is high in the south around dusk. Saturn is high in the east just after dark. The South Delta Aquarid meteor shower, with a maximum 15 meteors per hour, is visible this weekend — in the Southeast from midnight until dawn.


The Longest Lunar Eclipse of the Century is Approaching Next week's lunar eclipse will last almost two hours, which will be the longest lasting lunar eclipse in 100 years. It will occur late on July 27 into the twilight hours of July 28. Unfortunately, North America is the only continent where it won't be visible. Europe, South America and Australia will get partial views. Africa and Asia will have the best views. The eclipse will appear red, which is known as a "blood moon." Bruce McClure,

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