“This Is Why You Don’t Kill Black Snakes”

August 2, 2021 at 3:04 pm

Black snake photographed squeezing venomous copperhead to death in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania man snapped a photo of a black snake tying its body in knots around a venomous copperhead just outside Erie last week.

He posted the photo on Facebook on July 24 with the caption “This is why I don’t kill black snakes.”

The photographer, Clifton Ford (who also happens to be my uncle, a fisherman and outdoorsman) believes the black snake was “probably” a black rat snake.

After a little research, it appears black racer snakes and black king snakes are more commonly the ones that kill and eat other snakes, but all three black snakes are harmless to humans, serve as excellent pest control and provide all kinds of other benefits to your garden!

Black snakes kill their prey by constricting (suffocating) and sometimes biting them too.

They are not venomous, but have been known to kill venomous snakes including rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and as demonstrated above, copperheads.

They can also keep poisonous snakes away by competing with them for food.

In addition to killing mice, moles and other pests, the tunnels black snakes dig are good for aerating and “tilling” your garden soil, bringing up nutrients from below and mixing in decomposing organic matter from above.