A few weeks ago I wrote about snakes and why they're good to have around. I urged readers to protect them rather than kill them on sight. I expected a fury of letters from snake haters. I was pleasantly surprised to get no such mail.
This is the first time I've written about snakes that every letter and email I received supported my defense of snakes. In fact, every letter I received thanked me for my support of snakes.
Reader reaction confirms that attitudes can change from one generation to the next.
Take for example, the words of 78-year old Ardis Shirley of Mount Alto. "My father was petrified of even the smallest snake," she wrote. "From the time I was a little girl, he would yell for me to get a hoe and rescue him from the latest monster that had plans to eat him alive."
"The past two summers I found the biggest rat snake I had ever seen in my hen house. The last time it was trying to swallow a fourth egg when I gave it a poke, and it left through the hole it came in. Stretched across the floor it was at least five feet long.
"If I ever found a copperhead, I'd probably kill it. But my brother has a picture of a copperhead found in his clothes dryer. It had come in through the vent. He sprayed it with something he had handy, and it slithered back out the vent.
"My son lives on a narrow dusty country road. He recently stopped to let a green snake cross the road because he knew the fellow behind him would intentionally run it over."
From a father terrified of snakes to a daughter who gives egg-eating snakes a pass to her son who protects snakes crossing country roads, the Shirley family attitudes toward snakes have clearly changed. A little education about the lives of snakes and some personal experience combined to make snakes just a little less monstrous.